summer thread


O’er faded heath-flowers spun, or thorny furze,
The filmy Gossamer is lightly spread;

Charlotte Smith, from  Sonnet LXIII: The Gossamer

Gossamer is the thread-like spider web seen on plants and in fields, most noticably in late autumn. From Middle English, gos (goose) and summer. Originally it refered to the time of year, when geese were in season, then the meaning changed to what could be observed at that time. A related word is the Swedish sommartrad,  ‘summer thread’.

(Image: Araignée du Soir… Espoir George Barbier, 1922)



text means ‘the wording of anything written’. It comes from the Latin texere, ‘to weave’ – from which we also get the word texture.

One of my favourite books on the connection between writing stories and the creation of cloth is from the Sylph Editions Cahiers Series by Isabella Ducrot, Text on Textile, a meditation on fabric, myth, life and story:

Whenever we say ‘to lose the thread of an argument’, or ‘to weave a story’, we imply that the thread is continuous and irreversible, and that it upholds the meaning of what we say. In textile terms, this continuity is more a quality of the weft than of the warp. It is also true that when we say ‘the thread of a story’ (or in Italian, the trama, meaning both ‘plot’ and ‘weft’), the word ‘thread’ expands its meaning metonymically and refers to more than a single element: it refers to the very structure of the story; or, we could say, to its texture.

In weaving, the weft thread holds the warp threads together – breaking it breaks apart the fabric. Patch-work and  kantha, cloth made in India from damaged and discarded textiles, stitches pieces of broken fabric together to create something anew. Writers bind words together to create a story; they also pick up bits of stories already told to use again – writers are weavers but they are also recyclers. And every story is a small part of a continuous tale we are telling about ourselves.

(Image: hand spun, hand-dyed yarn, photo by wax and feathers used under Creative Commons license.)