book review

Gathering Blue

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This butterfly sits unfinished because I can not wait another moment to tell you abou the book “Gathering Blue” by Lois Lowry. A great read for 10 yrs and up.

Gatheing Blue


Have any of you read Lois Lowry’s “The Giver”? Gathering Blue is it’s companion volume. The Giver took place in this high tech, distant future world which was absent of emotion. Gathering Blue is set in a village which has very basic technology and the emotions run high in this story. I found at times the characters to be down right cruel.

This book tests us by asking the difficult questions: What if all of our modern technology is taken away? What if we went back to living like pioneers where the struggle for food and shelter took the top priority? Of course only the fittest could survive so why not dispose of those who couldn’t contribute fully to the community , such as the sick, handicapped, and old?

It’s into this setting that Kira was born. Although she was born lame, her mother couldn’t bear to part with her at birth. When we meet Kira she is newly orphaned. The villagers look at her as a burden and want her sent to the fields. Like her mother, Kira is very talented at embroidery and is taken to the Grand Council Edifice, where she is to repair and restore the singing robe in time for the annual Ruin Song Gathering.


This gathering is a stoic day-long performance of the history of the people and their world’s past. Also living just down the hall in the Council Edifice is Thomas, a young carver who works on intricate carvings on the singer’s staff. Also living in the Council Edifice is a very little girl who is being trained as the next singer. Directing the three children is a seemingly kind counsellor but truly he is menacing and his dark secrets unfold throughout the story.

The singing robe is intricately designed and colored but there is the absence of the color blue. A little village waif named Matt along with his scruffy dog, take a long journey to find the woad plant  which will let Kira dye blue thread.

Woad flower

I was attracted to this book because of the value they placed on art and it’s creative process. Through their artisitc processes they share the memory of their people, families, and culture. There is a surprise ending, which of course I won’t share but it left me with such a feeling of hope that I decided to embroider this butterfly in many shades of blue. What greater symbol for hope and transformation is there than the butterfly.

Blue dyed yarn

Something To Do:

You can choose to embroider whatever you wish. I like to use the Peterson Guide Coloring books, but you could use anything including an original desing of your very own.

If you want to know more about the dyeing process have a look over at my friend Heather’s tutorial here and here.

Here’s a great tutorial on how to transfer a patterns onto your cloth.

For those of you wishing to know how to make embroidery stitches you can have a look here.


3 thoughts on “Gathering Blue

  1. Just beautiful Valarie!
    So many things to be thankful for in your post. Book suggestions for my daughters next reads as she just finished a book series, inspiration for ME to start embroidering as I have felt it daunting to me and have been dragging my feet about it, but your butterfly and photos are so gorgeous that I must jump out of my comfort zone and begin !
    I am so grateful to have *met* you!
    happy day!

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