On a misty, moisty morning, the view from here . . .
“This is for you. I made it myself.”
You make something for a friend or for a family member.
You think of them, with every stitch and brush stroke and creative impulse.
You consider their likes and dislikes, their favorite colors, their lifestyle. You pour yourself into the making.
You want it to be perfect, to express your love, your affection, the extent to which you value their presence in your life.
You value their presence but . . . do they value your present?
A couple of times lately, I have come face to face with what I consider a bit of a betrayal. I’ve found, at garage sales, beautiful handmade gifts being sold for a pittance.
It’s given me pause and made me wonder about the extent to which handmade gifts can ever be truly appreciated by people who are not, themselves, hand makers.
One of the items I came across is this beautiful hand crocheted afghan, in wild and wonderful shades of green.
It was hanging on a clothesline at a yard sale and I idly asked if it was for sale. Yes, it was. How much? Two dollars. Two dollars?! I’ll take it.
I asked, Did you make it? The answer was, No, my best friend made it for me.
Your best friend spent hours making you this gift and you are selling it to a stranger for two dollars.
I knew not what to say. But what I thought was “pearls before swine.” What I thought was your friend deserves a better friend than you. And I became the crocheting friend’s friend, in absentia, and will give her afghan the good home it deserves.
And then I came across this fabulous hand knit sweater.
This sweater has it all. It is big and burly and well made. It has cool colors and a terrific retro design. It has a proud tag, added by the maker, “From the knitting needles of Eleanor E. Heffner.”
Oh, Eleanor. I am so sorry that your sweater ended up at a garage sale, being carelessly sold for three dollars. For whom did you knit it? I hope that first recipient cherished it, even though the sweater came to this sad end.
But, of course, it isn’t the end for the sweater. I’ll offer it for sale and the perfect owner will present themselves, someone who understands what Eleanor was communicating when she stitched this great old cardigan.
I know that, in theory, a gift is supposed to be given freely, with no strings attached. That the joy is supposedly in the giving and, once given, we can’t determine how the gift will be used and maybe we should try not to care.
But I can’t help but be sad for these makers whose work was underappreciated, for any one of us who makes a gift for someone who just doesn’t get it.
I think it may happen more than I knew. I mentioned the topic to my group of sewing ladies, we who meet weekly to stitch, and knit, and crochet, and quilt. To make things that often become gifts. And, I should note, these women are excellent makers, who take great care in their work—no sloppy, amateurish rags coming from this group!
And I heard their horror stories of quilts that took days, weeks, months to make and that were immediately re-purposed as dog beds. Of handmade gifts that were never acknowledged or were given away. Of faint praise and insincere thanks, or no thanks at all.
Is there an abyss, a huge disconnect between those who make and those who don’t? Am I trying to communicate in a language foreign to others, those who receive a handwoven kitchen towel and think, “Oh . . . a towel. Big deal.”
What do think? Are you happy with the simple act of giving, in a selfless, loving way, the things that you labor over? Or do you consider the recipient and, perhaps, reserve your handwrought work for those you know can appreciate it?
And how about those of you who aren’t makers? Are you thrilled or made uncomfortable by a handmade gift? Are those of us who craft expecting too much? Do you cringe or cheer when you hear the words, “This is for you. I made it myself”?
I’m Kerry. Remember me?
It’s been awhile . . .
I’ve been wanting to get back here, to say hello, to say everything is fine.
But what a busy summer it’s been!
Nothing hugely dramatic. Just so busy.
Doctor appointments, for my mother, my husband, me. Some regularly scheduled, some emergency.
Veterinarian appointments, for our many cats. Some regularly scheduled, some emergency.
We cleaned out my mother’s house. We took care of her possessions, the ones she didn’t take with her to the assisted living facility, and maintained her yard. We sold the house.
We had two enormous garage sales. We sold stuff on Craigslist. My fantasy is to be able to park a car in the garage come winter, for the first time ever.
We had visitors come to stay. We made a trip to Boston.
We participated in a craft show.
And we did our own yard and house chores and summer projects. Don built a fire pit the new pictures windows will be installed in two rooms soon.
I spend at least two or three days a week with my mom.
All summer long, in the early mornings, I have had time to either weave or write a blog post. I’ve chosen the former.
In the evenings, I have had time to either write a blog post or sit by the lake and have a quiet drink with Don. I’ve chosen the latter.
For the last couple weeks, things have been a little less hectic, a tiny bit less scheduled.
I’ve thought several times about writing here.
But like all good, healthy habits, once one stops, it’s very difficult to start again.
And that’s all this post is. A chance to start again. To say hi. And to commit to being back soon.
Like Margaret, who provides CLOUDS as this week’s Ragtag Tuesday prompt, I prefer fluffy, white clouds scudding through the sky, perhaps calling to mind a bunny or a kitty, or reflecting in placid waters.
But I was sure that most of the cloud photos in my own files would be of dark, forbidding, foreboding clouds, full of drama and threat. Maybe it’s a reflection of my mood, in the face of news of my country and our world?
When I actually went looking I was surprised and pleased to find that, in reality, most of my cloud photos are dramatic, yes, but with the drama of sun dispelling darkness, of light peeping through, of hope.
Let’s be hopeful . . .
The stars are aligned, with a perfect confluence of energy.
In a serendipitous meshing of ley lines, the designated dates for ScrapHappy and for the Hand Quilt Along have come together on this very day.
My scrappy weaving is finished for now and my big hand-quilting project is on hold, awaiting cooler weather. The fusion of ScrappyHappy and HQAL provides just the right time to write again about my fusion quilt.
The fusion quilt, for newcomers (or readers who don’t remember every detail of a post from months ago!), is a quilt combining sewing and crochet. Small squares are made of pretty fabric chosen by the maker, a blanket stitch border is added, and crochet is hooked into that border, to make a lovely edging. Eventually, many, many of these squares are crocheted together, to make a throw.
I’ve seen gorgeous fusion quilts made of all new fabric. But that wouldn’t be scrappy and that wouldn’t be me.
My fusion squares are the special bits of vintage linens–the embroidered flower, the tatted hem, the lacey furbelow.
I can’t bring myself to cut into vintage linens that are in good condition but that hasn’t limited me in any way. I have dozens (hundreds?) of damaged linens. They’re too stained or holey to use or to sell but they have sections of perfection.
Those 5-inch sections are the heart of my project. The last time I wrote about this, I had completed 24 squares and now my total is 54.
I still have not done any work toward attaching the squares one to another; I still feel as I did last time, that “I like seeing the stacks and shuffling through the squares, like a deck of cards, an encyclopedia of needlework techniques done by a sisterhood of stitchers and lace-makers and crocheters.”
Their scraps are my happy!
You, too, can participate in one or both of these blog happenings!
The Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another. If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.
ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.
Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).
Kate, Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Karen,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley and Dawn
When Eliza Doolittle, the Fair Lady herself, needed to practice her aitches, Professor Higgins gave her the exercise, “In Hertford, Hereford, and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen.”
When I need to practice my aitches, I wander my garden. My litany goes something this:
With hydrangea, hollyhocks, and hostas, hibiscus and honeysuckle happen (and heuchera, tooooo).
How did we end up with so many plants that start with the letter “H”? I only have one A (astilbe), two Bs (begonia and bee balm), and 3 Cs (coneflower, catnip, and chokecherry).
But I have 6 aitches (or Hs, or even haitches, if you prefer). We used to have a seventh until the hops grew out of control and had to go.
These plants share almost nothing, in spite of starting with an aitch–it seems that letter of the alphabet provides plants for every occasion.
The honeysuckle vines grow up, up, up. They cover the pergola and appeal to ‘ummingbirds.
The heuchera, often called coral bells, come in different colors. It’s all about the foliage.
The hostas, in seemingly infinite variety, glow from the shady spots. They grow large and small, and cover the Pantone range of greens.
The hibiscus is almost sexual in its showiness. It has a high need for attention with blooms the size of a dinner plate.
The hollyhocks are old-fashioned and seem very feminine to me–tall spikes with ruffled skirts in unpredictable colors–some deep and saturated, some so subtle.
And the beloved hydrangeas. I think they are sort of out of favor right now among hip gardeners but I’ve never claimed to be hip. We have huge shrubs of different cultivars, as well as an oak leaf hydrangea, a climbing hydrangea vine, and a tree standard. I love them all.
I get confused about my H-plants on a regular basis. I want to refer to the one that grows on the pergola and I say hollyhock or pause a long time before I can come up with honeysuckle.
Or I just ask my husband to water the one that starts with an aitch and he says, “That’s ‘ardly ‘elpful.”
Does your garden have a preponderance of plants that begin with an aitch? Or a P, per’aps?