Vintage Textiles: Looking for Loving Homes

cowboyI love vintage. I especially love vintage textiles–table linens, quilts, blankets, and such. I have loved them for so long and so well that I created quite a problem for myself. I lived in a house that was overwhelmed with textiles. I was the stereotypical “crazy cat lady” of vintage linens. I wanted every embroidered napkin or tablecloth, every crocheted afghan, every hand-stitched quilt to have a good home. And I thought I was the only person who cared enough to provide a good home.

The fact that I had two houses to fill didn’t help matters. For years we had a “real” house and a summer house, both with lots of storage space. When we moved into the summer house full-time a few years ago, I was forced to face my linen-hoarding tendencies. I found boxes and boxes (really!) of linens that I had completely forgotten I had. I had wanted those things to have a good home but what kind of home was I giving them, packing them away and forgetting them?

And, so, I have become the Humane Society of vintage textiles, the SPCA of linens and quilts. I started my Etsy shop, KerryCan (, to find good homes for my collection of vintage textiles. And I have found that many, MANY people love them as much as I do!

Here are some of my favorite items that have recently found “forever homes.” The dish towel at the top of the page was one of a set of three “day of the week” towels, featuring the cowgirl trying to get her chores done, with the “help” of a flirtatious cowboy

A beautiful hand-crocheted afghan, in fall colors.

A beautiful hand-crocheted afghan, in fall colors.

A pair of linen pillow cases; the drawnwork was done by hand, by a woman preparing for her marriage, in 1910.

A pair of linen pillow cases; the drawnwork was done by hand, by a woman preparing for her marriage, in 1910.

A hand-crocheted tablecloth, with a beautiful star motif.

A hand-crocheted tablecloth, with a beautiful star motif.

Another spectacular afghan, in black and brights.

Another spectacular afghan, in black and brights.

Aren’t they wonderful?! I miss all of these beautiful things! Sometimes I wish I had kept them but then I remind myself of the pleasure others are getting from them . . . and I look around and take stock of all the other special stuff I’ve kept for myself!

Do you find it easy to accumulate things and hard to let go?

Dirty Hands at Home: Gardening and Hops

hops vine-4“Inch by inch, row by row,
Gonna make this garden grow,
All it takes is a rake and a hoe,
And a piece of fertile ground . . . ”

I was singing this song by Dave Mallett long before I ever tried to grow a garden myself. I came to gardening kind of late—on the farm where I grew up, there were growing things everywhere but I didn’t take part in the intentional growing of flowers until I was in my 30s, probably. But Mallett is right—gardening is pretty straightforward, and so satisfying.

Gardening has become a big part of my “hands at home” approach to life. Maybe nothing connects us to the place where our homes sit as much as getting outside and adorning the spot with plants that reflect our tastes and, in a way, tell our tales.

I’m sure I’ll write more abut gardening but today I want to feature a plant I only learned about last year. It’s at its best right now and deserves the limelight!

The plant in the photos is ornamental hops. Yes, hops. The stuff of which beer is made! We planted it last year, one little dinky plant at each end of this cedar fence. Over the winter it died back to the ground and I thought maybe it wouldn’t come back—the winters are rough in upstate New York!

But come back it did, with vigor and determination. The photos show growth from this spring to early August. In the spring, I wear it was growing a foot a day!

hops vine-1I’ve helped it along by tying it, with green ribbon, to the fence. It doesn’t attach itself like a climbing hydrangea does although it will curl around small objects (like the necks of nearby flowers!), so it would probably climb by itself on a trellis.

Just in the past couple of weeks, the hops have appeared on the vine; they’re those little fluffy-looking pods, shaped like pinecones. I’ve been fascinated with them and have dozens of photos!

hops vine-2As pretty as they are and in spite of the “ornamental” in the name, these hops cones can be harvested and made into beer, although I’m sure there are other cultivars of the plant that you’d grow if beer making were your primary goal.

No beer making for me—I don’t want to put all those established beer makers out of business, so I’ll keep buying theirs! But, if you’re looking for an easy-care plant for a large space, one that makes a major statement and provides visual interest from early spring through fall, you must consider ornamental hops!

So, come on now, everyone, join in for one last chorus:

“Inch by inch, row by row,
Someone bless these seeds I sow,
Someone warm them from below,
Till the rain comes tumblin’ down.”

hops vine-5 hops vine-3

Many Hands at Home: The Family Gallery


Remember the thrill when your mom taped your drawing to the refrigerator, for all the world to see? Has you work been on display anywhere since? It’s still exciting, right?

If you’ve been reading along, you know that I love the full range of human made, from the most skilled to the most  . . . shall we say, inexpert. I just like the idea that people are creating and making and doing, rather than watching others create and make and do.

So, it seems fitting that we have, in our home, a gallery to show off the artwork of family. All of the family. Whether they like it or not.

We have mostly paintings and some needlework. The artists are: my grandmother, my grandfather, my mother, my husband, my mother’s husband, my husband’s mother, my mother’s husband’s mother (getting confused yet?!), my sister, my niece and me!

Some of the artists have a lot of experience and some never created a single work before they made one for this gallery. I love every single piece of art. Not to mention the artists!

Here’s to the artist in all of us, and our busy hands at home! Keep what you make on display!