If I look back at how I was a few years ago, I still see myself clinging to my dreams and what they represented…

For me, the snail stands for personal solitude and the secrets that we keep, deep within our hearts: it’s the “unspoken” secrets we carry with us throughout our lives.

This personal solitude is not necessarily a sign of sadness or melancholy; I personally give myself a few moments to be alone from time to time to rejuvenate myself, to recharge my batteries.

The shell also should not be seen as a burden to bear: rather, I would say that it holds the secrets buried within our souls that we keep forever, for better and for worse.

On the fabric, the image of the child is deliberately placed in the middle of various symbols, and is in the upper part of the design that is reserved for dreams, personal beliefs and imagination -- mysterious and mystical concepts about which only we can know.

For example, take the moon: a strange light, half-golden and half-white, sometimes full and sometimes in crescents.

It’s a gentle friend in whom I have confided many times.  Talking to the moon can make one smile, but I would dare say that my many long chats with it were a comfort to me and brought me peace of mind.

The moon is the benevolent eye that looks down upon us when everything seems dark.  “I asked the moon…” and sometimes, I still look for it in the starry sky, but I feel it watching over me and I am drawn to it, and transported into my dreams…

The leaves that are not attached to a tree make me think of freedom, as if a little voice from the tree were to say: “You’re grown up now, so fly away!”  And the leaf takes flight, swirls in the air and wonders what will happen to it next.  It’s a symbol of the angst that comes with independence as well.

The leafy branch on the left represents the family circle; the branch on the right represents friendship.  The cherries stand for happiness and joy found in this part of dreams.  As for the mistletoe, the Gauls say it represents “the plant that can heal anything”.  I would just add that in this sampler, it symbolizes a strong loving presence.

The heart in this section is for first love.  If you are married or living with your first love, you should stitch this heart in gold metallic thread.

The basket with the three apples represents motherhood.  In this section of the sampler, it represents the kinship that mothers feel toward one another.  It’s a tribute to beauty and sweetness.  If you don’t have children, or if you don’t have them yet, stitch the basket without leaving any spaces.  Make one cross-stitch, then start the next one without skipping a hole, creating a basket weave look.   This will create a magnificent basket of apples (the fruit that symbolizes love).

The letter A of the alphabet is larger to keep us in dreamland a bit longer, and to give full importance to the personal writing and imprints that we’ll stitch a bit later on.

The central band, decorated with acorns and little branches with cherries dangling from them, serves as a barrier between the world of imagination and dreams and the world of reality.  The acorns and cherries together represent the joy of living.

The basket under the letters is your own, the basket of the stitcher making this sampler, and it’s filled with works in progress.  (Be kind!  Don’t put your entire stash in there.  Works in progress will be enough.)

The pairs of scissors on either side of your workbasket, which take the form of storks, are the seals of the stitcher: the one on the left for left-handers, and the one on the right for right-handers.

A thread of imagination, a touch of poetry, a secret pathway, and we’re on our way towards part 3 next month…

Part 3

Textes et illustrations ©Isabelle Vautier
Thank you very much to Susan Stumme for the translation in English of the pages of the Marquoir Story.