I find working with needle and thread to be mostly soothing by the light of day.  I listen to bird sounds and the quietness of nature.  I listen to thread ever so gently being pulled thru cloth.  I smell the natural fragrance of the fabric.  

 

What will it become when I first begin my newest project?  Will I give it to someone or keep it?   How long will it take to complete?  A new quilt begins first as new life, a new idea.  So many feelings go thru me about it.  It takes on a life of its own. 

 

Its all very exciting to live a life of simplicity and plainness.   Quilting is one of my joys.  Most I give away or donate.  A few I keep for myself, and I can always make another.

 

A quilt wraps you in warmth and coziness.  It gives you a hug when there is no one else to do so.  If someone made one for you, it shows the depths of how much they care about you.  

 

I have no pics of the quilts I have made thru the years, or given away.  I used to save a square from every fabric so I'd remember the original quilt. . . but didn't remember it anyway.  I finally put all those squares into a new quilt. . it was very pretty; then I donated that too.  I have no camera, no need for graven images on paper,  maybe its my lack of understanding how to access them in the modern world. . .and load them on computer.  I was used to the instamatic kind of photo.  Now Kodak is fighting for its very survival, if its still around, it may not be. 

 

I love seeing all your photos and loaded images on screen.  That is something I cannot offer, not one of my gifts.  But I can speak for quiltmaking.  It calms me down and keeps me sane.  It becomes a gift I can give or one I can keep.  It is a way I create beauty and warmth in a world that can be very harsh at times.   And I find beauty there too.  In cloth and fabric and in thread and color.   

 

Any thoughts?

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Chris, I am not a quilter; David is right in saying that this is a real blessing. But when I was 4, my blind granny began teaching me crewel embroidery stitches, and some of my fondest memories of her and my mother are of the three of us stitching together in the afternoon. Over the years, I've knitted hats and sweaters (not for many years, though), and done several petit-point tapestries. Seeing the original woven ones at the Cluny Musee in Paris was one of the highlights of my trip there, and I love looking at others' examples of handwork. As a traditional Celtic storyteller and harper, I am hoping that the way will open for me to do a program, perhaps with 2 fiber artist friends in which they'd demonstrate the craft mentioned, of folktales and worksongs about clothmaking. I also find myself blogging more about these crafts. For me it is very meditative and joyful. You might enjoy Jennifer Chiaverini's (not sure of the spelling) Elm Creek Quilters novels. Some are historical ones; others are contemporary. Now that I am newly retired to be my husband's fulltime caregiver, I hope to join a Stitch Group meeting on Tuesday afternoons, both to embroider and for the social contacts, as a means of taking care of myself as well as others. --Barra

Thank you Friend David:

It is a humble talent, not much appreciated by others I seem to know.  Still I live my truth and honor what I'm feeling by putting those feelings into bits and pieces of colored cloth.  

 

I truly appreciate your comment and insight.  I often see men at quilt shows, surely the husbands of women quilters who then sometimes begin to quilt themselves.  (My own husband has no such interest.  He thinks giving a quilt as a gift is a stupid idea  [his words]).  Very sad, I know. . . .

 

I have no family to hand my quilts down to so have given them to other girlfriends for birthdays or Christmas and such and was always much too busy to inscribe my name or date upon completion.   Now with your words I think I'll try to do that more in the future.  It would be a wonderful and helpful reminder as years go by that someone actually took needle in hand and created this special quilt. 

 

Your point is well taken that today everything in our world is treated as disposable.  Unfortunately that even includes beautiful quilts I've made for others when they did not find value in them.     

 

Thank you for your most thoughtful response and your appreciation of things hand-made with cotton and batting.     

 

David Nelson Seaman said:

I ended up with one our family's most prized heirlooms,  a quilt made by one of my great aunts,  which I passed on to my son.   It is perhaps over a hundred years old now, with the handmade quality of the stiching and backing puting a modern store bought quilt to shame.   My local community hosts one of the largest annual quilt making conferances in the county, and stopping by to see the "quilts" is becoming a regluar event for me.    What you are engaged in is a art form, and you speak well of the, beauty, love and patience which goes into each one.   If I had a wish that could be fullfilled by those who make quilts, it would be to have each one stiched with the name and date of the person who made it.   No hand made quilt ever made should be lost to history; they are a rare tresure in todays disposable world of mass production.   You are truely blessed to have such a talent.

Hello, Chris!

Each quilt is unique. Each stitch and each square or knot, everything can be a mirror of love, anger, tension, stress, or Light and Shadow: almost a reflection of the way things go for the maker. I have seen many quilts. . . "Chain," "Heart," and just pieces of various cloth or fabric made into a beautiful artwork.

While I do not sew them or make up nice things as quilts, I do appreciate them. I had one for years, but it finally fell apart with age and use, to the point that it was useless. I can do some mending and  attempted to become the tailor of our home, but that just didn't come about. (I did make up a dress for our daughter, and started one for my wife. She can't sew either. Our daughter is taking an interest in sewing, and maybe she will do as thee dost: make up quilts to either keep or to distribute.)

It is a very good thing thou art undertaking. It helps to clear thy thoughts. It helps thee to focus on the sounds of God's Love which lay all around thee. It helps thee to have a sense of accomplishment, whether to keep or not, just to know that in all of those pieces of scrap fabrics, which seems to have no form to start with but later on something beautiful comes out of it.

Our lives are just the same. . . Clay in the Master Potter's Hands. We start out our life, seemingly all bits and pieces, nothing making sense. Then the Lord God our Father giveth us new life in the Light that surpasses our understanding. In that Light of God, we move, we think, we walk, work, and have our being. If He draws nigh, we are filled with His Presence. If He withdraw Himself from us, ah! whither shall we go? So He weaves our lives, second by second, hour by hour, day by day, month by month, and year by year. And when we finally can see what the finished Handiwork He hath done is like, those Light and Dark days all maketh for a lovely piece of tapestry!

Keep on sewing and quilting. Whether thee useth backing on not, yarn or pieces of fabrics, as my great grandmother did many years before my birth; keep up the good work, and worry not that thou hast no pictures to shew of thy work. Just write of them as best as thee canst remember, and I shall see them in my mind, for the words paints a picture.

My mother's mother made "Granny Squares," from yarn. She made each square one by one. Each one was different. Each one unique. She had to have 16 rows across and 20 or so in length. I never could figure or make any sense of it until she would pull out the finished work. Then it made prefect sense. It was the one thing she could do with her hands that she only, towards the last 6 to 8 years of her 90 year life she did year after year, from the time she was about 16 or so. She also, got comfort in that work, for my grandfather used to be away a lot due to being a truck driver for "Brooks Transportation," later "Hemingway." This kept her company. So did my mother and uncle, when they were little, then she had her hands full!

So take care. Keep stitching. A stitch in time, saves nine or more! Beautiful, though I can't see them, thy words bringeth forth the pictures. Keep thou up the good work! Let each weave, each web, each stitch, be done with tenderest care. For the one whom wraps inside it, will receive the blessing of heartfelt love. . . . 

Thy Friend, 

Timothy

Greetings Barra:

Thank you also for your thoughtful response.  I should have acknowledged all the needle arts in my original composition for I too began with embroidery, learned by watching my mother.  I sewed most all my clothes from an early age. . . and began quilting much later.  Quilting is easier and more soothing because I've overcome most of the problems of puckers, fit, and so forth. 

 

Your memories of the three of you stitching together in the afternoon are treasures indeed.  I wish I had that - - I don't.  I remember my mother doing some of it, but not really teaching me.  I have no memory of us doing it together.  You are truly lucky and blessed to have those wonderful memories.  

 

Your idea  for your program is amazing.  How wonderful it sounds. . that would be living a dream.  Perhaps one day I can join you in that.  Crafts, no matter what they are:  soap making, candle making, all the fibers, etc., they're all wonderful.  They make our lives rich in the most simple of ways.   I applaud all of them.  Your love of the harp and storytelling - - these are wonderful and beautiful gifts and they bless your life and the lives of those you touch with them. 

 

This past weekend I attended a huge craft fair among the Amish.  A man had a hand-carved puppet show (Merionnettes) for children.  I have no children yet I sat transfixed watching that show twice and I was not alone.  (It was Briar Rose / Cinderella)  I'm glad to say most of the parents who brought their children probably enjoyed it as much if not more than the children.  I cannot put a price tag on any of those things.     

 

I do have some of the Elm Creek Quilt novels though have not found time to read them yet; I will.  I also have what I believe are some Quaker Quilt Mystery books .. perhaps 4 of them.    I look forward to reading those also one day.  These are so fun to have to look forward to. 

 

I wish you only the best in your retirement and in caring for your husband.  Also in finding a group of like minded stitching women for social connectedness and warm conversation. 

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me and I look forward to talking with you more.

 



Barra Jacob-McDowell said:

Chris, I am not a quilter; David is right in saying that this is a real blessing. But when I was 4, my blind granny began teaching me crewel embroidery stitches, and some of my fondest memories of her and my mother are of the three of us stitching together in the afternoon. Over the years, I've knitted hats and sweaters (not for many years, though), and done several petit-point tapestries. Seeing the original woven ones at the Cluny Musee in Paris was one of the highlights of my trip there, and I love looking at others' examples of handwork. As a traditional Celtic storyteller and harper, I am hoping that the way will open for me to do a program, perhaps with 2 fiber artist friends in which they'd demonstrate the craft mentioned, of folktales and worksongs about clothmaking. I also find myself blogging more about these crafts. For me it is very meditative and joyful. You might enjoy Jennifer Chiaverini's (not sure of the spelling) Elm Creek Quilters novels. Some are historical ones; others are contemporary. Now that I am newly retired to be my husband's fulltime caregiver, I hope to join a Stitch Group meeting on Tuesday afternoons, both to embroider and for the social contacts, as a means of taking care of myself as well as others. --Barra

What a wonderful skill to have! I think that quilts are like a textile lovers canvas, and the finished product is just as good as a painting. My grandmother was a master quilter (she also did smocking, and made wonderful clothing), but I was not smart enough to take the time to learn that craft from her before she passed away. It's something that I will always regret not being able to take away from our relationship, and the smocking too, which is a dying art.

Thank you Emele:

 

It is a textile lovers canvas - -  and some mixes of color are as lovely as any painting.  Some we refer to as Quilts only a mother could love because from start to finish they are horrible - - and never redeem themselves no matter what we do.   Some are magnificent at the end when all along the path they were awkward.  You don't always know until you finish whether it will be a work of art or something you look at and say What was I thinking!! 

 

How sad you never were able to learn from your grandmother's art but I'm sure there are masterful quilters in your area who would be more than happy to show and teach you if you would be interested.  My quilts are not masterful nor am I a speed quilter as some I know are.  I become enmeshed in the process of the feel and fragrance of the cloth,  I'm very slow and meticulous in my measurements and most of my quilts are the product of many scraps of fabric as I don't have lots of yardage of any particular fabric which many quilters seem to have.  I generally buy fabric I like when I see it - - not having an idea in mind for it.  That way it becomes precious because you don't want to waste or make a mistake. 

 

One of the quilters in our small guild is a smocker.  She makes beautiful dresses and christening gowns and such.   I don't have that talent.  I toyed with the idea once upon a time long long ago. . .but never tried my hand at it.     

Emele Williams said:

What a wonderful skill to have! I think that quilts are like a textile lovers canvas, and the finished product is just as good as a painting. My grandmother was a master quilter (she also did smocking, and made wonderful clothing), but I was not smart enough to take the time to learn that craft from her before she passed away. It's something that I will always regret not being able to take away from our relationship, and the smocking too, which is a dying art.

I finally have a functional computer once again, so I am playing catch-up. 

I'm generally a textile addict.  I love to sew clothing and quilts.  Knitting, crocheting, weaving and spinning are all in my list of favorite activities.  And I'm PROCESS oriented, not just focused on the produI ct.  Speed quilting is not my thing.  My corners never come out correctly when I machine piece, and besides, I find hand piecing very calming.  It's much like keeping track of a difficult knitting pattern or spinning on my wheel.  One must be focused, push distraction away, which is fundamental to effective meditation -- clearing the mind. 

People used to ask me how I could get so much done, but my method was to keep a work bag with me, so when Emz was in cello lessons, or I was waiting to pick kids up from play practice, now when I sit in drs. waiting rooms, etc., I'm sewing, knitting or crocheting.  I don't know how people can just SIT doing nothing. 

But when I am doing spinning on my wheel, that's when I really mellow out.  The tempo of my foot going up and down on the treadle, focusing on keeping the thread consistent, I really side into the Beta waves. 

Betsy,

       I last knitted about 40 yrs ago, in college, when I made mohair hats as gifts--just knit, purl and a cable stitch. I want to order a lacy shawl knitting pattern that has a Celtic harp motif and a few bars of a song. It has 21 stitches. Obviously I'd have to work up to doing it! But where would I start? Any suggestions? Please email me offlist at barrabard@comcast.net. (wasn't sure how to find your email),

 

      Like you, I find it difficult to sit doing nothing!  With me, if not writing, it's word find puzzles (Mother had Alzheimer's), playing my harp,  learning Scots Gaelic, or doing petitpoint. That last is very meditative. I've long been curious about weaving and spinning, but am concerned about carpel tunnel repetiveness (I limit the amount of needlepoint I do for that reason).

 

      Thank you!--Barra



Betsy Packard said:

I finally have a functional computer once again, so I am playing catch-up. 

I'm generally a textile addict.  I love to sew clothing and quilts.  Knitting, crocheting, weaving and spinning are all in my list of favorite activities.  And I'm PROCESS oriented, not just focused on the produI ct.  Speed quilting is not my thing.  My corners never come out correctly when I machine piece, and besides, I find hand piecing very calming.  It's much like keeping track of a difficult knitting pattern or spinning on my wheel.  One must be focused, push distraction away, which is fundamental to effective meditation -- clearing the mind. 

People used to ask me how I could get so much done, but my method was to keep a work bag with me, so when Emz was in cello lessons, or I was waiting to pick kids up from play practice, now when I sit in drs. waiting rooms, etc., I'm sewing, knitting or crocheting.  I don't know how people can just SIT doing nothing. 

But when I am doing spinning on my wheel, that's when I really mellow out.  The tempo of my foot going up and down on the treadle, focusing on keeping the thread consistent, I really side into the Beta waves. 

Thank you Betsy:

I likewise carry things with me to do always.   I usually have at least 5 little books of verses in my purse so even if I'm waiting at a stoplight I can read for a moment or two.  Because I may not know what I want to read at that moment, I carry at least 5 books. . my silliness.  but I want to use every free moment I have to improve my mind, or work at a gentle skill.

Yes, when machine piecing and pressing (especially steam pressing), corners will not come out square - - but then you square them up again upon completion of each square and they will be perfect.  I'm not a speed quilter either, preferring instead the entire process.  When under time constraints perhaps I've done some speed quilting. .  but no, I'm kind of a poke.  All hand work is very calming, soothing - - nothing is like it, just need the extra time it takes.  And depending how it will be used, machine work is more sturdy and long lasting. . but I have no one to hand my quilts down to so they only need to last for my needs. 

The idea of spinning is remarkable to me as  well.  I belong to a group of Weavers for many years. . but was never available when they met late on Saturday every month.  The rythym of spinning must be very soothing - - which for me the sound of  a sewing machine is as well. .  but mine is plugged in, so its not the same thing.  The natural movement of spinning could easily captivate me. .  and perhaps I'll look into that when I retire.  For now I cannot add another such desire but the thought is captivating.   

 

I love sewing. I struggle with patience, though.  I have made quilts (and think they ARE wonderful gifts), but have yet to make one completely hand sewn. I always go back to my machine. I loved how you wrote about the process. I think I need to remind myself of that when I feel the need to "just get it done"!

Warm greetings Tracey:

I'm glad to hear you love sewing. . its wonderful to sew.  Be also patient with patience. .  it gets easier over time and is the gift that keeps giving back to us. 

If you want to try a quilt completely hand sewn, perhaps try a little one to begin:  12 x 12, 14 x 20, or a table runner or some such.   Keeping it small would make it easier to do.. .  less weighty and you could more easily see your wonderful progress.  Then you won't be so inclined to give up or feel bad about it in any way.  The process of working on a quilt is the joy of it. .  be sure to enjoy every step of it.    Tell me about it as you're able. .  I'd love to hear.   

Chris


 

Traceey,

 

William Penn said, "Patience and Diligence, like faith, remove mountains."

 

 Like Chris, I'm glad you love sewing. I get the sense that you are impatient with your hand-sewing, as if it is of lesser worth or authenticity to use your machine to finish a project. While I don't quilt, and have always been afraid to learn to use a machine--I do love hand-stitching needlepoint and crewel, and will soon venture into making an intricate shawl, knitting for the first time in 40 years!--, I venture to remind you of learning and mastering other tasks. The first time my grandmother sought to teach me to make a bed from scratch, we spent most of the morning in my room! It was incredible to me, that just by touch, my blind granny could pick out each wrinkle and unevenness, from sheets to blanket to pillowcases and spread! But today I make a bed without really thinking about it, the same way I tie my shoes, park a car, write a letter, etc. OTOH, I have changed how I do it--nowadays, the spread anbd blanket have been replaced by a comforter, and is folded back on one half of the bed, so that if my handicapped husband wishes to lie down without my help, he can do so more easily. Will the recipients of your quilts look at every stitch and deplore, loudly and publicly criticising, each mistake?

I write that, knowing my own perfectionist tendencies! But why do you make the quilts? For your own pleasure, to increase your skills, to feel a connection with past quilters and/or those who'll use them, or other reasons?

 

Is it the Hopi weavers who deliberately make a mistake in each piece, because only God reaches perfection? It can be difficult to be gentle with yourself, and still strive to improve.

 

Thank you for giving me more food for thought! And please, do let us know how it goes!

 

--Barra

 


 
Chris Beauchamp said:

Warm greetings Tracey:

I'm glad to hear you love sewing. . its wonderful to sew.  Be also patient with patience. .  it gets easier over time and is the gift that keeps giving back to us. 

If you want to try a quilt completely hand sewn, perhaps try a little one to begin:  12 x 12, 14 x 20, or a table runner or some such.   Keeping it small would make it easier to do.. .  less weighty and you could more easily see your wonderful progress.  Then you won't be so inclined to give up or feel bad about it in any way.  The process of working on a quilt is the joy of it. .  be sure to enjoy every step of it.    Tell me about it as you're able. .  I'd love to hear.   

Chris


 

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