Monday, February 17, 2014

Skilled fingers of the past...

My weekend began with a bite from the 'cleaning bug'!
Once bitten, it is impossible to do anything else but scrub, wipe, sweep, polish - and create a pleasing living space.
Once the hard work was done, I spent an hour rummaging through my box of old doilies, looking for time worn favourites to display around our home. You see, even though the house was 'set up' rather quickly after our December move, I still hadn't had the time to really play with displays.
So Saturday was the day to play (after the housework of course...)

The thing I love about all the doilies I've rescued from charity stores, garage sales and markets over the years is the craftsmanship displayed in each piece. I wonder about the fingers who so delicately and skillfully created such beauty from plain fabric and a few threads - the satisfaction when that last stitch was placed and a 'work of art' is viewed through the maker's eyes. Were they content with their craft or did they look for flaws like some of us may do with our own stitching? I'm simply in awe of the beauty they have left us to admire.

Here are a few I chose to display this weekend in various places throughout our home...

Hand stitching is a thing of beauty that I never tire of admiring - for eye candy, as well as for inspiration in my own work.
We can begin embroidering at any age, and as I set up each display I wondered about the few doilies I've just shared with you and whether they were made by young nimble hands, or wrinkled and age spotted ones? Bright blue eyes, or twinkling twilight ones that strained to see every stitch?
You see, I was 46 when I first picked up a needle for anything other than a simple cross-stitch.
 But this little pin cushion that sits atop the basket above? It was made by a bright little 9 year old who'd never had any stitching tuition at all.

It was made by Blossom back in 2003 from dolly clothing scraps we'd found at an op shop and cotton machine threads I had used for the hem on some kitchen curtains. With a machine I could make clothing and basic furnishings, but by hand?
She taught herself to do these simple stitches, to make a yo yo flower, to plump the little pillow with stuffing from an old toy - because as yet I did not know how. She slowly made it up as she went along and within an afternoon had happily presented me with a gift that stole my breath away.

You see, my stitching journey was not to begin for another two years, but with a young child's desire to create she didn't hold back and wonder "should I have lessons?" before she began.

I treasure this little pin cushion, even though it embarrasses Blossom now that her embroidery skills are excellent. It's my reminder that we need to start at the beginning, and enjoy all the steps along the path we find ourselves traveling along, even if others may say, "Oh, you need to learn this first and only when you have mastered it can you proceed further..."
If you have the heart, you have the door of your new adventure open and waiting. 

What have you wanted to do that others have made you hold back from because you haven't had enough training or practice? 
I never told Blossom 'you can't do that' when she asked for fabric, needle, scissors and thread.
I told her, "Sure honey, see what you can make. I just know it will be wonderful!" 

Dear lady, step out and 'make' - whether it be a little stitchery, a christening cake, wooly socks, a felted tea cosy, a water colour painting, or a beautiful display of flowers from your garden in the centre of the room! bold, be brave, have an adventure, do what they thought you couldn't and smile the whole way through...
It's not the end result. It's the fun of doing something you dreamed you couldn't and having a go at it anyway.

I have more photos from around the house to share with you, but they will have to wait until tomorrow as the sewing girls (Michelle, Wendy and Heather) are at my place today and I must ice the scrumptious gluten free Matrimonal Slice for morning tea before they arrive...

have a wonderful week,


  1. Good Morning Jenny, so enjoying your writings, feel like you were talking to me today, getting closer to retrieving needles, threads and materials and starting, its the getting started isn't it. Loved the photos of some of your doily collection, where I live so rare to find, think they get pounced on on arrival at the op shops, understandable but I will keep looking. My dear late Mum had worked her own supply of doilies when young which were well used and worn over the years, hopefully a family member has kept them. Remembered how I came across you, was from reading an article about you with projects in a magazine I bought from newsagents, how fortunate I feel. You are inspiring me further to tackle my own craft room/spare bedroom/ironing room, go through supplies, cull and reorganise. We have lived in this home for over 24 years, although have had sortings and clean outs before think there is something to be said for moving house frequently, supplies seem to multiply, it is not an easy thing for me to let go of my stuff, never know when I might have a purpose for it, but there has to be a time when realise I won't be visiting that particular craft again or would not use materials and as you have said good to share with others. I do think of making simple fast crafts for fetes and charities to use up supplies but also usually add to the collection at the same time, often ending up with more than when I started. I made little shoulder bags to hold mobile phones for Grandson's school fete 18 months ago but of course needed to buy more suitable material. I also make lavender (a favourite of mine) filled shoe stuffers for friends gifts and for last Christmas used an embroidered doily that just needed to be cut in half and was perfect size for the top, only thing was my friend thought I had done all the work, showing friends how clever I was, not just the putting together, that is another factor inspiring me to do some embroidery for her next pair shoe stuffers, redeem myself. Anyway now thanks to you I have discovered other projects/ideas I can make and try my hand at embroidery once again. Thank you for sharing and have a wonderful day with your fellow sewing friends. **Judithann**

  2. Such lovely treasures and beautiful words. Thank you Jenny x

  3. A lovely post Jenny - I too love doilies & like you, I sit & look at them & wonder about their makers & their hopes & dreams & wishes as they sat & stitched. I treasure mine & also have them around me to enjoy, not tucked away in a drawer hidden from view. It is a treat for me to get out my ratty tatty "spares" & spend an hour deciding what to make with them.
    I adore little Blossoms pincushion - I imagine you will treasure it forever. It is very special & holds great sentimental value for you. Enjoy your stitching time with your girlfriends. Hugs, Julie x0x

  4. I am a rescuer of doilies too. I sometimes use them as quilt labels too. I am lucky enough to have some very special doilies made by my Grandmother and sister. Treasures indeed.

  5. I rescue doilys too. And, like you I often wonder about who made them. Hope you have lots of fun with your lovely friends.

  6. Lovely doilies - I have a few with similar designs from my mother and grandmother. I can imagine Blossom is embarrassed by that little treasure now - but I'm sure shes old enough now to realize why its so important to you.

  7. I have all the doilies that my mom made when she was a child and at 78 yrs old she is still making them for me. They are all gorgeous and I have them all over my house.

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  9. I just love your doilies Jenny, they are things of beauty and what stories they could tell. You have encouraged me to go through my linen cupboard and see what treasures are hiding there.
    Have a great day with your sewing buddies.
    Hugs, Sue
    Western Australia

  10. was a treat to see all beautiful treasures...

  11. Lovely doilies Jenny. They definitely brighten up a space. Hugs......

  12. What a beautiful post Jenny. I loved looking at all those old treasures....and the best treasure has to be that sweet little pincushion. It is absolutely perfect as is.
    I tihnk that more than "other's" holding us back from trying something new, we do that to ourselves! I'm a fine case in point...I haven't tried stitching with my sewing machine as I've been telling myself for the past 2 years or so that I need to get lessons...I haven't learned to crochet because I tell myself I don't have the time to learn....the same with scrapbooking....and so many other crafts that intrigue me and make me think "I'd love to have a go at that!" and ten the adult voice intercedes and gives reasons why it's not possible. Maybe it's time I went off to discover the kid in me who dared to dream and not think of why it wouldn't work :)

  13. Lovely doily's Jenny and the first embroidery of your daughter is a thing to cherish. I have still some doily's my mam has made and I love them so much. I don't use them because there so old and in used shape, that I'm afraid that a washing destroy them.
    By the way I like your hair and I think it's rather be cool.

    Greetings from a not so hot Netherlands :-)


  15. What a lovely post! I still have the needle book I found in my Mum's things that I stitched when I was five...... must post a picture sometime. I miss hunting round linen stalls with her. I agree too that we hold ourselves back... I really want to do more crazy quilting and oh my goodness, the excuses I am making to myself!

    By the way, were your ears tingling on your Monday morning ? Lol, I was thinking about you as we sang His Eye is on the Sparrow on Sunday evening in snowy Michigan!

  16. Thank you for sharing such a precious memory. She did a great job for her first try. When I go to the antique stores and second hand shops with my friend he always finds me looking at the handmade beauties.

  17. What treasures you shared with us today. You are a true gem, Jenny!

  18. Blossoms stitching is adorable! Who knew, all those years ago, what it would lead too!

  19. Tell Blossom there are moms who wish they had something like her little pincushion to hold and treasure. She knew her God and wanted to show you her love for you and Him. I'm sure your heart swells with pride and love every time when you remember your little girl knowing she could do it and then doing it with a fearlessness few adults have.
    Those beautiful doilies you shared are treasures. Someone else's love passed on through time to you to share your love with your family in the little displays around your house. They are all pretty but the one that caught my eye is the one with Jane Austen books stacked on it. These tiny heart flowers and leaves looked stuffed. In the close up you can barely see the applique stitches. I'll bet the back is just as good as the top. Is it just the extra fabric in the turning that made it puff up or did she put a little something in there? Old things tell such tales. You are so lucky to find such beauties. Things like that are very very rare where I live.

  20. Thank you for sharing your doiles with us. They are reminiscent of my childhood. Every aunt and grandmother had them as well as my own mother. I am hard pressed to find them in the shops, but I've managed to collect and salvage them from my relatives. I didn't learn the hand-crafts at their knees, but I did learn to love and respect the art enough to learn it from Mom and on my own. I hope to share those treasures with my own child and hopefully, someday (a very long time from now :) with my grandchildren.

  21. Great post! I think Blossom's pincushion is beautiful and so special for you. That is really wonderful that you encouraged her to create. I love your vintage linens.


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