Linny t's Work of our Hands

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. " KJV

I read this quote in the Crazy Quilters Club May 2010 Newsletter.  I wanted to keep track of it, so I'm posting it here to share.

"I would like to believe when I die that I have given myself away and like a tree that sows seeds every spring and never counts the loss, because it is not loss, it is adding to future life.  It is the tree's way of being.  Strongly rooted, perhaps, but spilling its treasure on the wind."  May Sarton

I think it is absolutely lovely.

Here is a link to all her poems

Here is a quote of hers I found while looking at her poetry.

The woman who needs to create works of art is born with a kind of psychic tension in her which drives her unmercifully to find a way to balance, to make herself whole. Every human being has this need:...
May Sarton (b. 1912), U.S. poet, novelist. Hilary Stevens, in Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, pt. 2 (1965).




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First, some pictures of the breathtaking scenery:







Now, some of the quilt shop finds.


This is the contents of a scrap bag from Deb's Cats N Quilts in Franklin.  Deb was very cordial and friendly and very personable.  I saw her on a quilt show once, Simply Quilts with her cat ruler. Her shop has a real antique shop feeling with wooden floors and rooms like a house and absolutly crammed (but very organized) with lushious quilt goodies and a kitty theme here and there.   The bathroom is named "the Litter Box"  She sells these scrap bags for $5.00 and the proceeds go to a local cat rescue shelter.  Apparently these are bags of scraps from quilt classes.  Mine had mostly sections of jelly roll strip sets along with squares the width of the strip sets cut out of a contrasting coordinating fabric.  The squares were marked with pencil on the back for the 1/2 square triangle sew line, plus a line 1/2" away.  I have enough coordinating fabric to make a small quilt.  I had no idea that's what was in the bag.  I bought it mostly because of the CatMan2 no-kill shelter.  I've started sewing the pieces and will post whatever I come up with later.  I don't know if all the bags have as usefull a combination of fabrics, but I was very happy to see that mine did.

I bought this at A Stitch in Time in Franklin.  A very lovely LQS.  I could've spent all afternoon in this shop.  This is a jelly roll scrap strip set.  It has as much fabric as a jelly roll, but is not a collection of a line of fabric.  It is coordinating though.  I can't wait to do something with this.  The ladies there were all about going out of their way to help and answer questions.  Their shop is being featured in the best quilt shops of 2010 in the annual magazine, they said.  If I were ever to start a shop it would be like this one.  They had a great variety for every kind of quilting style, from long arm to emroidery to art quilts and on.  . 

I also got this pattern.  They sell "Turnovers" and I bought one, Moda Aviary, to use to make this quilt. 

A Stitch In TIme had YLI silk embroidery floss at .45 per package.  Since I didn't bring any sewing with me and was longing to stitch, I bought one of every color, along with an embroidery hoop and worked one of the basket designs on a linen hand towel, just to try it out.  I found this floss very smooth and easy to work with.   The yellow is more vibrant than it looks in this photo.  It kind of washed out with the flash.   


This is an antique dresser scarf I bought at Yesterday's Treasures Antique Mall in Dillard.  It is approx. 4' long, so I only took a picture of the corner to better show the detail.  The embroidery is precise and perfectly executed.  There are no stains on it and no significant signs of wear.  It's as if it was kept in the dresser instead of on it.  I love it. 

There are so many antique shops and malls in Dillard and Franklin alone that I could've spent a month just looking through them all.  I saw quite a few wonderful antique quilts.  Many with patterns I never saw before.  Some were worn from use and were more utilitarian and others were in pristine condition and looked as though they were kept in a closet and hardly saw light.  It was great!

I've got many more photos, of course, 814 in all, but I wanted to share these with you all here. 

Most of my time was spent tromping around in the mountains with my beautiful family.  We had such a wonderful time together.  I only fell once.  I slipped on the grass and landed right on my pa-tutey.  Thank God it happened the day before our last one there.  My daughter slipped on the grass twice, so I didn't feel so bad :) 

I took my older grandchildren, Megan and Brenden to a gem mine.  We paid $5.00 each to dig a bucket of clay and sift it in a screen through water trough.  It was my grandson's birthday and he got a good sized ruby and a saphire.  We all got a bag full of semi precious gems like quartz crystals, garnets, aquamarine and some little bitty pieces of emerald to name a few.  Franklin is the Gem capitol of the world I think.  It's almost adictive.  You find yourself wanting to get bucket after bucket to see what you might get.  We had a grand time there, but it was way back up in the hills (of course I couldn't be satisfied with one of the one's on the main drag).  On the way out I took a wrong turn and got us lost in the mountains for 1 1/2 hours :)  Of course the cell phones didn't work.  We just kept going round and round and up and down.  We were starting to get worried because the sun was ready to go down over the mountains.  Finally we found someone and asked and he was able to help us find our way out.  I saw a book at the visitor's center earlier in the day about disappearances in the Smokey Mountains and secretly was thinking how we could become a statistic for the next version.  The kids thought the whole thing was hillarious and they had me laughing so hard I could hardly see to drive at times.   I really needed a good belly laugh and I just thought how true it is that God works everything for the good for those who love him and are called to His purpose.  That was the best time I had on this vacation :)

We did plant Ricky's tree on our property and I put only some of his ashes in a hot pepper bottle (he ate hot peppers with everything) and burried them next to the tree.  The rest of his ashes came back home with me.  I couldn't bear to leave them all there.  I was happy when some neighboring dogs, Millie and Buster,  I had met on our other trips there came to greet me and remembered me.  They helped officiate the ceremony and made my daughters feel safe.  My family had never been there before and were afraid of bears and mountain lions.  I told them they were silly, although our property is on the back side of Nanthahala National Forest and it wouldn't be out of the question for something wild to wonder up the ridge.  I do so love that place.  The air is fresh and it is in the thick woods.  All you hear in the day are different birds talking to each other and the trees whooshing in the breeze.  When it rains it's like a rain forrest.  There is a spring fed creek there and the kids cooled off by walking in it and picking rocks.  We saw a fleeting view of a baby dear there drinking and my grandkids fell in love with the place.  It was great and Ricky would have been so pleased to be there.  I honestly think he was there watching the whole thing.   

I know Ricky's spirit was with me the whole time I was there.  With all the children there was a lot of laughter through tears for us.   A most cherishable memory.

Linny t




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Last September, I was visiting my daughter in New York. One day, we went for a walk in downtown Troy, NY. The day was perfect! It was clear and cool, only warm in the sun. Natalie was with us, just one year old then. We had coffee and gormet pastry at an upscale coffee shop and then we wandered around from shop to shop.
Troy is an interesting town. It's in a valley on the Hudson River. It has a large Arts community and many of the downtown shops cater to both art lovers and artists. There were also many antique stores and resale stores. One in particular we visited was an antique/resale store and was done up all nostagically. I love the feeling you get in those kind of places. Everything you touch has a history and it's fun to try to imagine what the people were like who originally owned the merchandise. That's where I found the pieces to a quilt that someone had dreamed of making, but never did. They were triangles of fabric from the 40's - 60's, judging from the prints; probably remnents of clothing either made or worn, since hardly 2 had a twin. It was a real scrap piece find!

Later I was talking to my daughter about the pieces, thinking out loud about what a great quilt they'd make, looking at each piece and thinking the of person who made them, who probably hand drew a pattern on the back of a cereal box or something in a kitchen with "That Green" walls and traced each one onto any fabric big enough to receive it and then cut each one out with scissors...funny, we think this is quaint now days, don't we. We have rotary cutters to do the job and special rulers to make it easy.

At some point in our discussion, I learned that my daughter would love a quilt made from these pieces. Of course it would have to be for her! That day meant a lot to me...just walking around window shopping with her and the baby. I don't get many days like that period, much less with my beautiful daughter and grand daughter! So it was settled. It would be her quilt.

When I got home, I started playing with the pieces. "Now why didn't this person finish this quilt?", I wondered. I had a bonified mystery right there in my hands. Did this person just get boared with the idea? Did they have a house fire and this was one of the few things salvaged? Did they die?... or maybe one of their loved ones died and they just couldn't stand the thought of working with this fabric any more....There were probably a million possibilities, but I preferred to think on the romantic ones...Oh the poor dear....I won't let your precious work go to the heap~~~

There were'nt enough to make a very big quilt; just barely enough for large a wall hanging and all together they were quite busy. Then I decided to alternate them with muslin triangles. That's when I discovered the most likely reason why a quilt wasn't made from them. Although they looked like perfect Isosceles triangles, they were not. One side was a little shorter than the other. I had to make a template the shape of one of the triangles and use that trace each triangle onto the muslin. Although I could still cut them with a rotary cutter, The process still took awhile. I pieced them by machine and I remember thinking I was glad they were triangles. Not many of them were actually cut on the straight of grain. The extra bias was a help in getting everything to fit together. The muslin gave the pieces a stability as they were cut on the straight of grain. All in all it went together well, all in a long afternoon's sewing.

It occurred to me while stitching the binding down that perhaps the person who cut these triangles did make a quilt and had her more undesirable choices left over ( a couple of the triangles were pieced together; perfectly so, I might add)....hmmm....I have since decided to think they were never made into a quilt because of one of the reasons mentioned's more interesting that way...more romantic and meaningful.

At any rate, here it is, not quite a year later. I think it's a handsome quilt. I've named it :Living Stones" from 1 Peter 2:5.  It is machine pieced and hand quilted

I had to wait to post this because my daughter wanted to see the quilt in person, not on the internet. I have to say that it was pretty wonderful being in her livingroom and seeing her face when she got it. This morning we had devotions on her pull out couch and all the kids were together on it. That's exactly what I had in mind when I thought of her using this quilt.

What a wonderful art-form quilting is!

Hand work. When it comes to sewing by hand, it's kind of like opera; you either love it or you hate it. For those who love it, the words "Hand Made" take on a whole new meaning. For those who hate it, just the mention of those words brings a cringe. Those who hate it will try anything to avoid it, calling it the "H" word. Those who love it, when contemplating a new project, will conjure up visions of time spent in the comfort of their favorite sewing place, surrounded by all their favorite tools, spending time doing nothing else except stitching along while solving the problems of the universe in the back of their mind. One who loves it wonders how anyone could hate it.
I believe that it is the hatred of hand sewing that has brought the sewing machine to what it is today. Years ago sewing was viewed as a chore and it really was. Before the sewing machine, women made clothes for the whole family by hand. Imagine living on a homestead or even in a pre-industrial age town. No pavement anywhere. Every time you had to use the restroom you had to walk outside, down the dirt path. Daily chores required everyone to go out into the barn or field. Getting water required a walk to the well or river. The clothes you spent hours making for your children were sure to get filthy withing the first hour of being worn. All the women and girl's dresses were ankle length, dragging in the dirt all the time. Washing the clothes required a trip to the river or washtub, again, outdoors and washing by hand. It sounds like a thankless chore to me. No wonder the women made quilts with the leftovers. At least the hard work put in to a quilt stayed inside until they needed to be washed. I heard a poem written by a woman on the prarie fronteer that I wish I had written down. It spoke about the quilts she made with love to keep the children from freezing to death at night and the making of which that kept her from going mad. Can you imagine such a life?
How far sewing has come since then! Today sewing is a creative act that we do because we want to and can, not because we have to. Most only sew by hand if they actually want to because almost every sewing activity can be accomplished by machine today. Techniques for machine quilting, machine applique and machine embroidery are the news today. Some machine artists do not have hand skills at all and see no need to obtain them.
The art of sewing by hand would fade entirely were it not for those of us who love to pick up needle and thread and quitely stitch some heirloom piece fit to be handed down to our children, grandchildren, etc. Some of us were taught to sew by our mothers and grandmothers who still viewed hand sewing as a valuable skill. Is it romanticism to believe in hand sewing? I like to imagine what it was like to be a victorian lady. Their sewing skills made them important in their social circles. They chose projects that were challenging to show off their skills and were proud of the amount of time they had invested in them. Their handywork is what we seek as collectible today. I wonder how our skills would measure up to theirs. Would they look down on us or would they be intrigued and challenged by the machines we use today?
This photo is a photo of a quilt I finished in December of 2005.
It's a queen size Grandmother's Flower Garden I named "A Mother's Garden of Memories". I made this quilt entirely by hand for one of my daughters mostly out of fabric I salvaged from some of the clothing she wore as a child. Some of it was from dresses I made for her. I had carted that fabric around for 20+ years. It took me 3+ years to complete this quilt. I remember thinking I'd never finish it, but I did! I made that quilt during some of the most challenging years of my life...the years I had to raise 2 of my grandchildren, turning 50, my mother's death, my brother's death, 4 hurricanes (I live in Florida), becoming a Christian and much, much more. Making that quilt kept me from going mad, although some people said I was already mad for attempting to make it by hand. Quite literally, my blood, sweat and tears went into this quilt. That's why I named it what I did; it was full of my memories, both good and bad. When I finally finished it, it was very dirty. I was afraid that the stains wouldn't come out, but was surprised that they all did...all except the little blood stains where I'd pricked my finger while hand quilting. I didn't even know they were there until I washed it. When I pointed this out to my daughter she said that's what she loved about it the most!
If I had spent those 3+ years making quilts by machine, I would have made many more than just one quilt, but none of them would have been that quilt.