The Not-So-Boring Begats

When I was a child, I went to church.

In that church, we read the Bible. The whole Bible.

Or at least that was the idea, the goal. We were encouraged to read the whole thing, as well as memorize the names of the books of the Bible (which I can still reel off with weird precision 50-ish years later, for the first 20 or so).

Parts of the Bible were interesting. But then one would get to the boring begats, the long lists of genealogy, like this one in Genesis:

[7] And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:
[8] And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.
[9] And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan:
[10] And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:
[11] And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.
[12] And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel:
[13] And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:
[14] And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.
[15] And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared:
[16] And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:
[17] And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died.

And on and on. Who were these people and how did they live so long? These were the sections I skipped.

I find, now, that my life is full of a different sort of begats. I think of this as the crafting begats, the way one project begets others.

These begats are anything but boring!

Each weaving project begets new ones. I start with one color and think what a different one would look like. Or one treadling pattern and imagine others. I work on a scarf and want to see how the structure would translate to towels or a baby blanket.

Each quilt begets new ones. As I work on the redwork squares to reproduce the antique quilt I have, I think of ideas for a modern version, with blocks that reflect my current life.

This weaving project begets ideas for a quilt—wouldn’t this look pretty in pieced fabric?


I work on the quilt I am making, with quotes about women’s rights, and think of embroidering a short phrase, a few words, to represent every day of my year, a stitched journal.

I iron vintage linens and inevitably find pieces with damage that makes them unsellable. I put them aside because, in my mind, they beget a quilt made of the pretty bits pieced together. Or they beget rag rugs, woven from strips of the usable fabric. Or they beget special buttons . . .


I imagine this organic moving from one project to the next, each unique but related to something that came before, happens to us all—gardeners, bakers, painters, potters . . . makers.

With my making begats, I’ll never be bored.

My projects are fruitful and they multiply. How about yours?

72 thoughts on “The Not-So-Boring Begats

  1. Lovely post 🙂 I know just what you mean but my begats seem to happen with books. I love nothing more than to have one book lead me to another – usually each book presents several enticing paths. And if I happen across an unintentional connection between a new book and a recently-read one, it makes my day 🙂

    • You’re absolutely right about this! I even find that I’ll be in the library, looking at one author, then notice the next one over on the shelf, giving me a whole new direction!

  2. Oh those biblical begats! I did A level RE and I too had to read the whole bible, unlike you I can’t reel off anything! Your begats are so much nicer, books tend to have begats too!

    • I suspect your A-level RE taught you to understand what you were reading much more than my memorization did! I’ll stick to my crafting, and yes, reading, begats!

  3. I find that my paintings seem to beget each other. I find something working with one that I want to carry over into the next. Sometimes, however, a stranger enters the room and I’m trying something new and we are off on a whole new family of paintings.

  4. Love those buttons!

    I know exactly what you mean about those begats. I quite often research one silverplate pattern or manufacturer only to find information that begats a whole new list of questions. And so it goes, on and on and on.

    • Your research is a lot like any genealogical research, and that’s really what the begats were. And I remember you saying you loved the buttons when I first posted a photo of them about 4 years ago! Easy to make, you know!

  5. You are such a good story teller, I could ‘listen ‘ to you all day. And yes, we are kindred spirits in finding that connection with the past, with women in all situations, and joy of creating! If only I could live for 800 years and make all my creative plans into begats! Have a happy Sunday, xo Johanna

  6. I do have that happen with my projects, but it’s most easily traceable in my cooking! Last night there were things from 3 or 4 different meals that “begat” dinner! 🙂 As for my quilts, I do often find that while I’m enjoying working with a particular color set or type of pattern, I’ll make a second, with the first quilt’s fabrics as the seed. However, then I’m usually ready to move on.

    Whether using fabrics or ideas in linkage from one piece to another or not, all my quilts are related. Each new one is created with the accumulation of knowledge engendered by my previous work. The fact that fabrics also move through multiple quilts, sometimes over many years, is the bonus.

  7. Firstly, I adore those buttons! And I know exactly what you mean about one project leading to the next. Part of this is a learning process – gradually getting better at what we do – and partly it is about being open to possibilities – such a joyful aspect of creativity. I find this also with reading. As I progress through one book it almost always sparks ideas about related reading – I enjoy that sense of looking around one tree and spotting the next, and so on, making one’s way through the literary forest! 🙂

    • A number of people mentioned how this applies to reading and it’s so true, with both fiction and nonfiction! And, regarding the buttons–they are very easy to make!

  8. Yes, as you point out so well, one thing leads to another, which to me is the sign of a mind firing on all cylinders (do cars still have them?). The hard thing for me is how to keep track of all the spinoff ideas. And those lists of begats were surely boring. They lulled me to sleep until I would come up against some horrific family crime buried in their midst – fratricide, incest, and the like.

    • Yes, you could always count on the Bible for some grim reality, mixed in with the rest. I keep notes, on my iPhone, on scraps of paper, etc., about project ideas . . . but so few of them ever get followed through.

    • Oh, stop–your projects are every bit as wonderful, just different! And the buttons are super-easy–you just buy the Dritz cover-your-button kit at the fabric store!

      • Serioulsy? I haven’t used those button kits in years, but I don’t remember them looking that good. It must be that you started with really nice fabric. 🙂

  9. What a good idea, to repurpose the pretty pieces of soiled linens for a quilt! I have a slew of stained hankies and finger towels – now I know why I saved them! thanks!

    • Those would make a great quilt! If the items are delicate, you’d probably want to sew them on a backing fabric for support–but think of the fun it would be to put it all together!

  10. I know about all those begats! I set myself the task of reading the whole bible a few years ago – Old Testament, New Testament and Apocrypha – and the only way I managed not to cheat and skip the begats was to read them out loud. (I made sure I was on my own!). I love discovering these new trails in the things I do! I just wish I had enough time to follow them all up.
    I love the colours and pattern of your woven cloth and those cute buttons….!!!

  11. That is indeed a unique way of looking at our creative processes! 🙂 Each project enhances skills and ideas are born that carry over into the next….. without the first stumbling efforts we would not be at the skill level we are now. I love to see the progression! I also love your buttons too! ❤ ❤ ❤

  12. Yes! Everything builds…. I have a quilting friend, a prize winner, who says when anyone asks her how long something takes to make – – – “35 years”. Meaning that everything she has made up to that quilt contributes to it. I’m not always that obtuse about the answer, but it is so true.
    When a fellow quilter asks me why I am so adament about prewashing my fabric, I say that it’s beacuse I started as a weaver and I don’t think a woven piece of fabric is completed until it is washed.
    Speaking of redwork, I am debating starting a “bluework” quilt, with South Carolina motifs. It would be appropriate as indigo is the SC color!
    Love your monk’s belt!

    • That’s a really good point about washing quilting fabric–I never thought of it that way and tend not to wash my fabric for quilt. Hmm . . . And I’d love to see you make a bluework quilt. I just finished a book about redwork and there was a stunning example of a bluework quilt in it, too!

  13. The weave pattern would look great in a piece of fabric. I always enjoyed reading the begats and figuring up ages.. can you imagine even if you lived to two hundred how many projects you could do?!

  14. Yes, yes. And as your other readers have commented, all creative endeavors seem to beget others. Whether it’s cooking, gardening, music, or reading. Lovely post.

    • This is also how some people manage to waste hours of their lives on YouTube, where one video leads to another, right down the rabbit hole! I say let’s stick to the productive, creative stuff!

  15. Your posts are always so interesting and make me smile. I was trying to figure out where this one was going at first and I quite like where you went. Thanks for another way of looking at life, through begets

    • Thank you, Andrea! The quilted journal idea hovers in the background. I do keep a written journal and treasure it (only wish I’d started it much younger!). I wonder, though, whether my very placid, some-would-say-boring life would merit such an undertaking.

  16. D > Hebridean/Gaelic culture is still in thrall to ‘begats’. Island families take pride in being able to recite their ancestery from memory. Names like MacDonald have become fixed as family names / surnames, but strictly you could only be called Mac Dhomhnaill [Mac Donald – Son of Donald] if you were indeed son of Donald. Or Nic Dhomhnaill if you were his daughter. Reciting your ancestory runs like this: Donald, son of Donald, son of Angus, son of Ranald, son of …. I don’t fully understand how this works for women, as it is more complicated. There’s similar values attached to learning traditional music: you learned a song or how to play the pipes from Angus MacGillivary, who learned from … And for learning locally traditional knitting patterns. And so now we’re getting closer to your weaving projects! Authenticity, provenance, story-telling (another island tradition – oral traditions passed on down through the family), these are things that have enduring, universal significance.

    • I love all this! I only know a little about how Scottish names work and would love to know more about that and all the tradition you mention! I’m told that Southerners in the US are also very aware of family connections that way.

  17. This is a very freeing way to look at the creative process, Kerry! I’ve often felt guilty for being so easily distracted by another technique, but try as I might, I just don’t focus. But it’s okay–I’m just working on the next thing!
    It is so true that one project leads into the next. Creative people rarely create in only one area (just like those faith fathers rarely stopped at just one child–always seemed to be lots of children in those biblical “begat” lists!) Composers often play more than one instrument. Writers will try a different genre. Makers, even when we focus on one medium, will try something just for the fun of it. Thanks for the encouragement to keep “begetting” something new.

    • I’m glad to know you do this, too! While I like the idea of really focusing and becoming a world-renowned expert in one, narrow thing, I know it’s never going to happen to me!

  18. I’m woefully behind on my blog reading, but am happy to be catching up tonight. I love those buttons! I remember the first time I covered a button in sewing class. It seemed like magic. Yes, one thing always leads to another, but the discovery is worth never being quite caught up.

  19. You are making a quilt with quotes from the women’s movement? Have you posted about this before? If so, I missed it. I cannot wait to see (and read about) that!

    • I think I’ve just written passing references to this. My guild’s block of the month focus this year is women’s suffrage–pieced blocks that somehow relate to suffragists. So I was making those and decided to supplement them with blocks embroidered with quotes about women’s rights. I’m working on “She persisted” right now!

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