Friday, January 20, 2012

Every Stitcher has a story

Every stitcher has a story--their story.  Their story of how they became passionate about needlework.  The stories are filled with inspiring people and creativity.  When I take classes, the instructor will sometimes begin the class by asking the students to introduce themselves and share their story.  I enjoy listening to stitching stories and how each person became a needleworker.  I'm going to share my story and I hope others will share theirs--I want to get to know you.

My stitching story begins here.

This is the treadle of my Grandmother's sewing machine.  I loved visiting Grandmother Rebecca.  She had two cats, Blue and Babe, she had a German cuckoo clock that sang on the hour and half hour, she made delicious banana pudding and she was a quilter.

In addition to being a quilter, Grandmother Rebecca was a seamstress and it was quite common during my visits with her for clients to stop in for a fitting or to pick up a completed garment.  There was always fabric at Grandmother's.  I loved watching Grandmother operate her sewing machine.  I image it took some coordination to operate the foot pedal to get the machine going and sew a straight seam.  Don't tell Grandmother but I did not inherit the coordination gene.

Grandmother made many quilts, I wish I knew the number.  Each of her nine grandchildren received a handmade quilt.  Being one of the younger grandchildren, mine was the last quilt she made.  It is a Sunbonnet Sue.  Sadly, while Grandmother was making my quilt she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died before the quilt was completed.  My Mother completed the hand quilting and she gave it to me when I moved into my first apartment.  

When I visited Grandmother Rebecca she would give me scraps of fabric from her sewing basket to keep me occupied and to help me with the beginning of my own quilt.  She would teach me the names of different quilt patterns.  We would talk about colors--lights and darks.  We talked about the layers of the quilt and the borders and bindings.  Needless to say, I thought visits with Grandmother Rebecca were way better than visits to Disney.

The second part of my story began after I had graduated from college.  I was teaching school and we had one of the worst winters on record.  We missed days and weeks of school because of the weather.  Don't get me wrong, the first few days of being home were great.  I stayed up late, watched movies, caught up on the laundry, caught up grading papers and making lesson plans.  But. . . after the first few days which lead into weeks, I needed something to do.  During a break in the weather, someone had told me about a "cute little shop which sold cross stitch patterns."  Remembering Grandmothers advice about an idle mind being the devils workshop, I thought it was time for me to find myself something to do.  Off to the shop to find myself a project and keep myself occupied.  The shop was filled with beautiful samplers!  Beautiful samplers stitched on linen!  Ugh!  I did not know how to stitch on linen.  One of my buddies was with me and jerked me into reality by saying "do you know how to count?  Can you count to two?  Okay, you can stitch on linen."

The third part of my story, which is the on going part, is the wonderful, creative, stitchers who continue to inspire me every day with their incredible pieces of needlework.  They encourage me to step outside my box and comfort zone, take classes, learn something new, try a new design or designer, learn a new technique or stitch, try a new fabric, stitch with a different fiber.

So to Grandmother Rebecca and her magical sewing machine, to my friend who knew I could count to two and to the many needleworkers in many genera, I say "thank you" with a grateful heart. Now, I'm ready to hear your story.


  1. What a great story, and a wonderful quilt! I just found out that my aunt, my mother's only sibling and the person who lived closest to my grandmother when she died (as in, they lived in IL, my mom in DE), had my grandmother's treadle sewing machine. I found out only now that she had one because my aunt's boyfriend dumped the machine so that he could park his corvette in my aunt's garage! I am sick at the thought of it.

    I'm sure your grandmother is smiling down from heaven, happy to know that her granddaughter has carried on her love for needlework.

  2. I love your story!!!! My grandmother was also a quilter and my mom sewed. I will have to do a post in the next few weeks about how I started stitching.

  3. Your grandmother gave you a wonderful gift as a child that is still paying benefits to this day. Wonderful story.
    My grandmother has a treadle sewing machine, but unfortunately it was given to my SIL. I would have loved to have been given that machine.

  4. Your grandmother's sewing machine is a real treasure. And the love for doing needlework she gave you is too. I loved to read your story.

  5. A beautiful post, your quilt must be very precious.

    My grandmother taught me to sew on her old Singer. I miss her so much but I know she is with me at times of need.