Sheltering in books
On a bleak, wet day in Devon

Secret Threads

Fabric Toadstools by Mr Finch

From The Problem With Pain by C.S. Lewis:

"You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that.

"Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw -- but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.

Moth Pulling a Tiny Coach by Mr Finch

Moth collection by Mr. Finch

"Even in your hobbies, has there not always been some secret attraction which the others are curiously ignorant of -- something, not to be identified with, but always on the verge of breaking through, the smell of cut wood in the workshop or the clap-clap of water against the boat's side? Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?

"You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it -- tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest -- if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself -- you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say, 'Here at last is the thing I was made for.' "

Hares with sprouting bulbs by Mr. Finch

Mice and Dark Grey Mushrooms by Mr Finch

This, to me, is what fantasy literature (and mythic arts) does best: it tugs on those secret threads, evokes bright worlds half-glimpsed at the corner of our eyes...where the heart's desire lies just ahead, but always just ahead, beyond the next turn of the page.

Dream Fox by Mr Finch

Owls by Mr. Finch

Rabbits by Mr. Finch

The gorgeous soft sculptures here are by Mr. Finch, a textile artist in Leeds, near the Yorkshire Dales, with a name straight out of a fairy tale.

"My main inspirations come from nature," he writes. "Flowers, insects and birds really fascinate me with their amazing life cycles and extraordinary nests and behaviour. British folklore is also so beautifully rich in fabulous stories and warnings and never ceases to be at the heart of what I make. Shape shifting witches, moon gazing hares and a smartly dressed devil ready to invite you to stray from the path. Humanizing animals with shoes and clothes is something I’ve always done and I imagine them to come alive at night. Getting dressed and helping an elderly shoemaker or the tired housewife.

Kneeling hare and small weeping wolf by Mr. Finch

Textile Hares by Mr Finch

Magical creatures by Mr. Finch

"Most of my pieces use recycled materials, not only as an ethical statement, but I believe they add more authenticity and charm. A story sewn in, woven in. Velvet curtains from an old hotel, a threadbare wedding dress and a vintage apron become birds and beasts, looking for new owners and adventures to have. Storytelling creatures for people who are also a little lost, found and forgotten…."

Visit Mr. Finch's website see his wondrous work. I love it deeply, and we'll be looking more tomorrow.

Soft Sculpture Snails by Mr Finch

Mole Army by Mr. Finch

Botany Badger and Foxes by Mr. Finch

Spider by Mr. Finch

The passage by C.S. Lewis quoted above is from The Problem of Pain, published in The Centenary Press' "Christian Challenge" series in 1940. I first read it for a class on Lewis  way back in my university days (as a non-Christian, it's not a book I would have been likely to pick up myself), and though it is indeed quite theological, it contains interesting passages on a number of other subjects too. In class, we read it in conjunction with Lewis' Grief Observed, about the death of his wife, which was a fascinating pairing. All rights to the text and art above reserved by the C.S. Lewis estate and Mr. Finch.


Oh what a chord you struck with me, with this topic of secret (even to myself) threads that do indeed weave in and through me. To pair it with the creatures of Mr. Finch (who you introduced many years ago) is such comfort and delight.
It is those secret threads that tickle at my broken heart suggestive in their stead.
I look for them in sleepy ways but of course, they're only 'in my head.'
Once up, and awake the day might see a pinch of something ... little nose, a flash of memory

And it's those secret threads that love to read my quirky way to imagine gluing the pieces into something wondrous and inviting ... somehow that side of where I've been.

Something like that. Thanks once 'gain for the magical dust of something else. xo Moki

Oh! How I love this idea of "secret threads" and wonderful creatures and playthings cut and shaped out of vintage cloth. Literally within the fabric, its weave and threads, their is the hidden story, the history of people who wore or applied that material in some way that became a part of their history and routine.

The patterns on such cloth can invoke the child's imagination as well as the writer who has found it in some thrift or antique shop. And it can also invoke the curiosity of those wanting to know the history behind it, the poignancy and times of the former owners --whether prosperous or hard, a legacy of struggle and survival as well as one of beauty that makes the human condition and its creativity, born out of varied circumstances, ) magical, transformative.


'Here at last is the thing I was made for.' "
C. S. Lewis

From vintage cloth, a rabbit rises --
cut out and stuffed with straw. Plaything for a child
that has the soul of a room and migrant worker
sewn in. Their history breathable in the plain weave,
permeable through dreams as the boy sleeps.
A calico hare leads him into a strange kitchen
where a woman lays her head against the table
crying. The oak around her polished yet somber
as coffin wood. A single lamp burns & spare change
( left from the rent) gleams in the light. A window
casts its shadow on the worn timber with thin
branches in the framework. A Calendar page
that marks the passing of leaves and birds. Laundry
on a backyard clothesline and her last days
in a cottage where she has taken shelter
from the road and field. Slowly, she unties her apron
and throws it on the floor. A cotton bed of flowers
left for another wife and mother to use--
to stitch keepers of a past and future story.

My Best

Nice one, Wendy:)

Wendy--I think there is a story there as well. A bit spooky and loving at the sam e time. Hope you delve more into it.

Here's mine:

That Secret Thread

The one that sticks out
from the doll's dress,
unwinding her story.
The one that unravels from
the stuffed rabbit's
puffed white tail,
detailing his adventures.
Another that dangles
from a hanger in the closet
that once was a lost sock.
The piece that peeks out
from under my breast.
The least pull will start
my heart again.
All are tales I have told,
will tell, my secrets
once upon a thread.
They are the stories of my life
even though they read
lkke someone else's.
Perhaps there should be a thread
sticking out of my gravestone.
It would be the truest thing
anyone could say about me
who wound up balls of line
throughout a long life.

©2020 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

I love the work of Mr Finch. His giant moths are both sinister and beautiful, just right for October and its shadows.

I like the way the original meaning of 'thread' here has led us on to different routes. Here's the direction I've taken, inspired by something I heard on the radio.


Archaeologists tell us
the needle and its following thread
stitched a route from the African plains
far to the ice sheets of the north.
Without the thread that held
hide to hide, no shoe could have
protected our feet,
no leggings, no sleeves and tops
could have layered our limbs in warmth,
safe from the frozen teeth
of the Age of Ice.
Clothes, made by securing threads,
gave a second protecting skin
which let us make the routes
that wind this world
in woven skeins
of ways and roads.

Hi Mokihana

So glad you liked the poem. I deeply appreciate your comment.

Take care,

Hi Jane,

As usual, you grace us with another wise and beautiful poem. I like the way you pull this thread of your life through various other threads of related objects that hold special significance for you. And I particularly love these lines --

The piece that peeks out
from under my breast.
The least pull will start
my heart again.
All are tales I have told,
will tell, my secrets
once upon a thread.
They are the stories of my life

Thank you so much for sharing this, I truly enjoyed it!

And thank you so much for reading and commenting on my poem! I deeply appreciate it! I think you are right, there is a story lurking between the lines and asking to be expanded. Something, I will have to consider and explore.

Again, Thank you so much!
My Best
to you and yours

Take care,

Hi Stuart

Clothes, made by securing threads,
gave a second protecting skin
which let us make the routes
that wind this world
in woven skeins
of ways and roads.

Well, this is a fascinating take on the concept of thread and how it connects us to the earth, our sense of direction/exploration, shelter and development. I really enjoyed your unique perspective.

Thanks for sharing,
My best

I love all of this so much and I wish I could be transported to Mr. Finch's workshop so I could watch him bring these beautiful beings to life. Thank you.

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