Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Historical Stitching

I am still helping my daughter who had a knee replaced 1 1/2 weeks ago.  I don't have my quilt with me, but I do have my computer so all is not lost.

This is a good time to look back in history at the sewing of a past era.  Women seem to have been driven to sew from the beginning of time.  Maybe it started with utilitarian purpose, but in time those who had spare moments in their lives stitched for pleasure and beauty.  Little girls were taught embroidery skills at a very young age.  I taught my daughters to sew when they were young, but in this day and age they don't have to unless they want to.  They didn't all take to it, but three of my girls are accomplished quilters.

I digress.  I gave one daughter a beautiful piece of embroidery that was done by an direct ancestress of mine named Helen (Boteler) Chernocke who lived from 1671-1741 in England.

Helen (Boteler) Chernocke
 There is a story about the portrait.  The child is probably named Pynsent after his father,  and he died young after playing with "lucifers" (matches).  He may have been the oldest son as some years later they named another son Pynsent.

The embroidery is so lovely and in such amazingly great condition, though there is some age-related damage.  It was originally a cushion cover that was not meant to be sat upon.  It may have been for a special chair - we can only speculate.  The motifs were outlined in coiled gold.  This was very thin, real gold wrapped around silk thread and couched to the background.  The gold is mostly gone now, but there are a few specks of it.  The thread around which it was coiled is red.

Helen's lovely embroidery.
We looked into repairing it, but the experts say not to try as today's threads are too strong and will damage the old fabric and stitching.  There are people who work on things like this, but we have not contacted them.  My daughter has it carefully covered with muslin and stores it flat.  I have one or two more pieces that are more damaged than this.

I thought you might like to see the kind of work that was done at that time by women who had time on their hands.  I get my interest in sewing honestly!

Sew a happy seam this week.  I hope you enjoy this week's diversion.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Quilting as Therapy

I have been swamped with year end stuff and the birthdays of several family members.  I always write my annual letter in January to avoid the confusion of the holidays.  This year I am rushed even more to get it done before my daughter's knee surgery.  I MUST get all this stuff done and my week already has two out-of-house days.

I am really finding out what my daily quilting does for me because I am not doing any right now.  What do you gain from quilting?  These are the things I treasure:

**The challenge.  There is always something to challenge our capabilities.  There is something     new to learn.  There is something new to try.  There is something to think about and puzzle out.

**I love the opportunity to be creative.  Design a quilt.  Design a quilting pattern.  Choose colors. Figure out how to put a quilt together both design-wise and technical-wise.

**Many quilting tasks require repetition where you have to pay attention with some intensity.  Even monotonus tasks leave me more relaxed when I finish.  The satisfaction of progress is a real upper.  As you go over the same thing time and time again your mind has time to wander and think about things in your life to the music of the motor.  

**There is pleasure and happiness in finishing a task or completing a quilt.  I love to go back to look at what I have done.  Sometimes I see things that need fixing, but mostly it is gratifying to see something accomplished and looking pretty.
After a session of quilting I am ready to quit for awhile - until the next day anyhow!  It somehow leaves me feeling a little like I do after good exercise session.  I find that the little worries of life go away for awhile, leaving me more willing to face and deal with them.

You have heard it before:  Work on a quilt and say goodbye you your therapist.  Works for me!

The quilt below is sitting on my machine waiting for attention.  I turned it over and the light from the window highlighted the texture of the quilting.  The other side has color, but the back is different sort of vision.  On the front some of the quilting doesn't show much, but the back says it all.

Quilting from the back.
Sew a happy seam this week.  I wish you joy in your quilting.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


We spent three weeks in Seattle celebrating, visiting, eating too much and just plain having fun with family.  We always drive and weather has never slowed down DH who is a frustrated truck driver I think.  He loves the challenge, but is a careful driver.  We pushed through fog, snow, slush and ice where many cars were in ditches.  Occasionally we hit some clear road and a little sunshine.  It was tense driving in many places, but we arrived safely to discover 12 inches of snow on the drive and much more in the snow plow dump at the street.  So, in the dark, we dragged out the shovels and began moving enough to pull the truck in to the drive.  It was an exhausting arrival and I am still functioning at three quarters my normal energy level.

I have much to do before I take on the care of my daughter as she recovers from knee replacement surgery so I don't plan to do any sewing until I get some priority things accomplished:  birthday cards to make, annual letter to get out, photos uploaded with pictures to add to the letter, and on and on....  I am posting today just to keep in touch and to let you know that I have not fallen off the edge.  I am eager to get restarted on my quilt, but since there is no deadline it sits and warms the sewing machine.

On top of the the original 12 inches, we now have an additional 12 of new snow.  It is stunningly beautiful, but sooooooo cold at -5º.  Although Dixie loves the snow, she doesn't want to walk in the freezing weather.  Neither do I!

Dixie watching.
Sew a happy seam this week.  I am envious, but wish you the best.