My French Friends

Some years ago when I was new to the internet and browsing the web, I found quite by accident a French quilting magazine.  For a couple of days I struggled to read their posts regarding quilting in France.  While I had studied French in school,  I never really learned to speak the language…but came to love all things French.  One day I decided to write a message to them and ask if anyone would enjoy corresponding with an American quilter who did not speak much French.  I received many responses.  Today I am delighted to say that I have made several good friends.   Maggy, Nicole, Claudine, Elisabeth, Anne, Carine Marie, Isabelle, Yvette, Josette, and Mijane, you know how much our correspondence has meant to me.  These women are all wonderful artists, very creative and talented.   They are all an inspiration to me and my work.  Maggy is my twin on the other side of the world…the first one to respond.  She was divinely sent to me. 

 

They are all kind, generous and thoughtful women who chanced to answer my email that day.  We have shared our thoughts, photos of our families, little treasures sent across the miles and a simple gift of friendship.  My passion for France and all things French has increased one thousand times because of their kindness to this American woman. 

 

While I have received many gifts from all of these generous French women, I share with you a photo of this Boutis Heart, which was a gift Nicole gave to my daughter when Kathleen had her second child.  I am enthralled with the art of “Boutis” and am grateful to Nicole for sending her gift.  I now have a few books on Boutis and with Nicole’s help I have an understanding of how to do it.  Boutis is an old art…but still as lovely today as it was long ago.   Lovely as the French women I have met, don’t you think?

I Love Your Blog Award

Recently Marjorie gave my blog the “I love your Blog” award.  Thank you Marjorie.  I am happy you enjoy reading my blog.

The rules of the award are: 1.  The winner can put the logo on her blog.  2.  Link the person you received your award from.   3.  Nominate at least 7 other blogs.    4.  Put links of those blogs on yours.  5.  Leave a message on the blogs of those you have nominated.

I have chosen blogs that I like to read every day.  They include  Janine’s Blog – She does the loveliest tiny cross-stitching; Paddy’s Daughter – She does beautiful wool felt bookmarks and more; Nicole’s Blog, Le Passe-Temps – She is a talented quilt artist; Embroidery Addict – She does lovely embellished embroidery; Honey Bee’s Bliss – She has great ribobn embroidery tutorials and lovely photos; Chloe’s Place – She does crazy patchwork…check out her archives…super; Francine – She displays lovely Alsacienne Redwork; and Nanouanne – She began the ATC craze in France, talented artist.

Please drop in to visit all of these blogs.   They are worthwhile reading.  And Marjorie…thank you for this award.   I am delighted.

Unexpected Fun

Today I had to go “one more time” to the fabric store to buy more batik fabrics for the wedding quilt I am making for my son (who was married one year ago already).   I never seem to have enough of what I really need.  (SMILE)   Of course I found what I needed and then some as always.

Upon returning from my errands, I found a package waiting for me on the front porch.   A gift for me???  Could it be??  Of course I couldn’t wait to open it.   There was a virtual treasure chest of items just waiting for me.   An English needlework magazine (one I had never seen), some skeins of silk floss, and silk/wool yarns, a hank of wonder twist, a spool of gold thread, a card of #18 cotton needlepoint thread, two bits of lovely lace, some adorable little porcelain kittens, an assortment of lucscious beads and colored little flowers and embellishments.  And there in the midst of ALL this magnificent treasure was the best of all…a handmade biscornu pincushion embroidered with my initial.  Just last week I’d been asking Marjorie about different types of embroidery threads.   While my stitching has spanned a couple of decades now, all I really know is DMC, perle cotton, and a bit of yarn for crewel and needlepoint.   I had asked Marjorie for some advice on different types of threads, etc.  She is a prolific stitcher with lots of talent, creativity, and knowledge.   What a surprise to find this gift from her just because.   How thoughtful and generous and kind!  Thank you Marjorie…what a blissful surprise.   She enclosed a note telling me to experiment with what she sent…perhaps making a crazy patchwork pincushion of my own…and enjoy getting to know these luscious threads and embellishments.   And of course, I have the magazine to spark my imagination.  Rather than tell me about them or show me the threads, she sent me my very own supply of wonderful stitching threads PLUS.  I told you she was creative! 

Be sure to visit Marjorie’s website Moonsilk Stitches and get to know her.   She is lovely, kind, and generous and certainly knows how to make a person feel special.    Thank you again Marjorie, you are delightful.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! 

Work in Progress

We like to get away to the woods and nature whenever we can.   We both grew up in the city/suburbs and really appreciate the smell of the forest in the morning.  Here is a photo of our home away from home.   We don’t go too far with fuel prices high, but when we go now we go for a week or so and stay put.  I always bring my sewing machine along and some kind of handwork, as well as a good book.   That way, just in case of rain, I can always be occupied with something worthwhile.   During one RV outing it rained nearly every day.  We did a lot of walking and hiking with umbrellas.  But that week I put together the body of what will be a tablecoth.  It will have a wide border with appliqued flowers on all sides.   I did the top,  but not the applique.  I actually LOVE to applique, but after the week away, I put the top into a box and there it sat for a long time.   It is one of the projects I hope to finish this winter.   Just another UFO on the shelf for now.  I imagine that all of you needleart people out there have a few UFOs among you, no matter what is your desired medium.

A Breath of Kindness

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.” 

I did this needlework (a quote from George Eliot) many years ago for a good friend.  That friend has since passed away and the needlework came back to me.   It is mounted on brown velvet, done on linen with frayed the edges.  I added the stalk of wheat to signify  the chaff and grain. I will treasure it always and the friendship it was meant to signify.

I learned last night that my friend with cancer was put in the hospice program, less than one week after the fundraising benefit.  It made me think of this needlework and I wanted to share this quote with everyone.

Learning to Sew

My mother was my best advocate. She encouraged me to do things, when I wasn’t sure I could. One summer when I was ten years old, I was bored. I asked her if I could use her treadle sewing machine. So she gave me a quarter to buy a pattern at the local Woolworth store and one of her old dresses to cut up for the fabric. I read the pattern carefully and made myself a sleeveless blouse out of it. Then she gave me another quarter to buy some fabric. I made a pair of shorts. Her trust in me and support gave me the courage I needed to begin something I have treasured all my life. My ability to sew. Oh, I do not propose that I am a designer or anything special, but I do love to sew and learned to make just about anything. Here are photos of the flower girl dresses, baskets and ring bearer pillows I made for my son’s wedding last year.

Quilts

While I have been sewing since I was a little girl making clothing for my dolls, I only began to quilt about seven years ago. I love hand quilting, but have only a couple of small pieces. The first one was a wall hanging which was my very first quilt. This one still hangs in my guest room.

The second piece is a white one that was hand quilted with metallic purple and green variegated thread. I must have been crazy.

My favorite quilt however is one I made from flannel pieces. This one was displayed at an art gallery in a nearby town for some time and it won first place in the textile show. It’s not an art piece, just a traditional pattern, but it is special to me nevertheless. My award for this show was to have a professional photo of my quilt put into their 2008 art gallery calendar. I laughingly tell everyone…I was “Miss March.”
And last but least, after my reflection yesterday, I thought I would show the quilted wall hanging I made for my very special daughter who loves sunflowers. She is a bright spot in my life as most daughters are. While I love my two sons dearly, there is always something beyond words at having a daughter. Oh I couldn’t say that always, but I can today. She is a delight.

A Time for Reflection

Yesterday I attended a benefit for a friend who has stage four melanoma. She was young and full of life one day, and in the hospital the next with serious bad news. We go through our daily lives never dreaming such tragedy could strike us. At least I don’t much think about these things. My heart is sad for her husband who is like a lost puppy; for her daughters who are doting on her hoping to have quality time for a few months; and for her mother who knows that NO mother should ever outlive her child. And as I sat with my friends, signing Karoke to “That’s What Friends Are For”…tears fell from all of our eyes unashamedly. It was difficult to leave the party, to say that last goodbye, to let go when we had that last hug. I am not sure if I will see her again. So many thoughts and what ifs….and so on. This certainly is now a time for reflection in my life.

Have I been a good wife, a good mother, and was I a good daughter? Have I been a good and faithful friend to those I love and trust? And have I been able to be a friend to those I do not love nor trust? And have I been true to what I believe in and searched for that which I could not? Have I been true to myself and have I lived my life not just for others, but so that I might be enriched and fulfilled? Have I supported and encouraged the artist within? Questions, questions, questions. I have no answers.

Instead I went into my sewing room to work on the unfinished wedding quilt for my son who was married a year ago. Perhaps I’d better finish it…perhaps in a few months, well, I won’t even say it. And all those other UFOs! But the panic quickly left. What I really must do is to call my two sons, and my daughter and tell them just how much they mean to me today. I do this occasionally, but one more time can’t hurt. And when I lay beside my husband tonight I will tell him how much I love him today, yesterday, and for always. Not who, not where, not what I am is important. Simply just to be is enough. The rest will come.

Inspiration

Because the weather was so divine, today I spent the day roaming around Michigan’s eastern lakefront…Saugatuck, Douglas, South Haven, St. Joseph, and others along the way. My husband and I enjoy taking short road trips to places we haven’t been. This is a good thing, especially with gasoline prices so high. While I have been to Lake Michigan many times, we haven’t visited the quaint little shops in all the lovely little towns. It was great fun with lots to see. Alas, I did not find any needlearts shops. However, I will remember the blue water of Lake Michigan shimmering in the sun and the amazing vastness of the lake. I will have to be content with the colors of this photo of all the boats in the harbor. The greens, the whites, the blues, the grays, and everything in between is inspiration enough.

A Part of the Past

Each time old photos are viewed, it brings back a memory of a special gift for a special person and how relationships can enrich my life. This teddy bear was a gift for a my daughter, who will remain in my heart forever. She was a wild young thing, but grew into a beautiful and lovely young woman. And a handknit blanket and homemade outfit for little Joey who is SO very adorable. We all make gifts, little ones and ones that take eons to finish. They are gifts not only for the recipient, but for those corners of our hearts where memories linger forever.

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