Tuesday, November 1, 2022

The Virtuous Wife - block 1...


Good morning everyone, and a happy November to you all!
Today we're going to begin a long 14 month project, The Virtuous Wife quilt. This idea has been on my mind for years, but as with all big design projects I need to wait on the Lord for what is in my thoughts to become tangible sketches and eventually a set of embroidery blocks. And as always, His timing is perfect, and His grace to lead me through the process is more than I deserve.

Some things you'll want to know about The Virtuous Wife project...

* This quilt project comprises 16 blocks, which I'll share over 14 months, so somewhere along the journey you'll receive two blocks instead of one for a couple of months. 

* The stitchery/applique centres measure 6.5" before being bordered in a Bright Hopes patchwork block. 

* The finished size of each block is 10.5". 

* The fabric requirements, applique and embroidery instructions etc, are included with the Block 1 pattern. 

* A previous tutorial for adding the Bright Hopes border to a centre block is HERE. If you do not know how to sew that border, please watch the tutorial. 

* The finished quilt top will have four rows of four blocks, but it's up to you to decide if you want to add a final border or two to the outer edges of the quilt. Personally, I will make that decision for my own quilt when I have all the blocks stitched, but it will probably be a simple 2" or 3" wide border all around.

* Each block is released on the 1st of the month, and is FREE

* In the instructions I have not given thread colours as you will need to choose your colours to match the fabrics you'll be using. 

* I am using a total of four fabrics only in my quilt top, so you may like to try that yourself. Shop from your stash, as I did, and pick four pretty co-ordinating prints. I have 1/2 metre of each, which will see me through to the end (apart from a final border and binding).

* If you don't want to do the applique, that's fine. On your pattern sheet you'll find more detail in the designs for hand embroidery alone. 

Block One...

Something different I did with the applique in this block (and in following blocks) was to blend the thread colours for the blanket stitch applique with the flow of colour in the fabric. So, if you look below, you can see that I used a green for the green sections of floral fabric, pink for the pink sections, and blue for the blue sections.

After completing the blanket stitch, I then chain stitched around the large flower, doing the same thing again with thread colours. 

The blanket stitch is sewn with a single strand of thread, whilst everything else is sewn with two strands. 

Use the link below to download the pattern. 

I thought we might also take a look at Proverbs 31:10-31 as we stitch our way through the next 14 months, but rather than begin with verse 10, let's go back to the preceding verses, those which lead us into the heart and home and life and faith of this dear woman. 

The beginning of this chapter opens with King Lemuel's mother, an obviously wise and godly woman, speaking very candidly with her son about the kind of king he needs to be in order to rule righteously, but she also gives him counsel on the character of a woman he should pursue to be his queen. 

For the longest time I overlooked that Proverbs 31 is, in fact, the counsel of a mother to her son, and not originally intended as a recipe for we women to emulate. Yet, we must thank God for these instructive verses being included in the canon of Biblical Scripture, because it's simply loaded with advice for women of all walks of life. 
I also think this passage of Scripture is a wonderful teaching tool for our sons and grandsons as well. Being taught what to look for in a future wife - and I have rarely heard anyone discuss this, if at all - compliments the lessons we teach our boys on growing into faithful, strong, righteous husbands and fathers one day. It's certainly something to consider. 

Now let's move on and look at The Virtuous Wife described in verse 10 of Proverbs 31...

The word "virtuous" is translated from the Hebrew word 'chayil', but as with much English translation from the original Hebrew language, virtuous is only one word of many which fully describe 'chayil'. 

To gain a deeper understanding, we could read verse ten like this - "Who can find a capable, virtuous, strong, valiant, war-worthy wife?" 
You see 'chayil' is also used to describe a force, such as an army, (hence 'war-worthy')! Ladies, this woman King Lemuel's mother is describing is no wallflower, no lazybones, no woman of little value...in fact, this word is used to describe Naomi's daughter-in-law Ruth (Ruth 3:11), a band of soldiers (Ezra 8:22), the valiant men  of Israel (1 Chronicles 10:12), strong men of war (Jeremiah 48:14), riches and wealth (various Scriptures), character and substance (Deuteronomy 33:11)....and I could go on, but I think you can grasp the depth of character describing the Proverbs 31 woman. 

Knowing this, it gives the remainder of chapter 31 (verses 11-31) far more depth as well, and I hope you are as excited as I am to dig deeper into the example of this godly woman King Lemuel's mum wanted for her son. The more I thought about it, the more I have come to believe that the King's mother knew of a woman like this, or perhaps a few women she'd observed over time who lived their lives as exemplary 'chayil' wives. 

You may not be a wife yet, you may be a widow, or you are no longer a wife...but I think there's so much in Proverbs 31 to instruct women of all ages and life circumstances, because the key to this Virtuous Wife is her character. I read this recently in the Complete Jewish Study Bible and think it gives a wonderful description of this woman's heart and motivation, especially in the world of today...

"But who is this capable woman? She is a woman who is attentive to herself and to those around her. Her heart is bound up in the well-being of others. She is creative and resourceful, and she radiates beauty in her own unique way. She cares for herself, but she knows she is more than just a physical body: she emanates this beauty from her soul as well, in servitude and in love. She is fully aware of her place in the plan of God, seizing each moment with intention. This practical and spiritual woman aligns her thoughts, body and actions for the sake of heaven. She approaches life with fortitude and presses forth despite obstacles. She might be single, she might be married; she might work in the home, she might be a corporate executive; she might be a teenager or a grandmother. Whoever she is, she is the eshet chayil: the woman who strives to live a full life of service to God."   

Translation of 'eshet chayil' - a woman of worth, valour or strength 

Ladies, let us think on these things. Let us thank our Father for the gift of being a woman, for the treasure we have in Him and the instruction for living the life He has mapped out for us all through His holy Word. 
That sentence, "She is fully aware of her place in the plan of God, seizing each moment with intention." really stands out to me at this time of life, because it reminds me (yet again) that as long as I have breath, God has a purpose for my life...and I need to live it out each day with intention. 

I hope you enjoy stitching along with this project, and as our quilt grows, may we also grow beyond where we are today into wiser, more godly, more industrious, more generous and much kinder women, wives, mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and friends.

God bless you as you stitch, as you pray, as you work on your character, as you seek to live a full life of service to Him, as you teach the young ones in the way they should go. 

Blessings and hugs,                                                                                                                                                                                           `  

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Anonymous said...

I loved this and the explanaion of the biblical study was very thoughtprovoking. Thank you for both.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
1 November feels like the new 1 September when it comes to the weather here. After a lovely week ending the month of October we now have wind warnings ! Autumn weather is here :)
Your new blog image, header and side bar look great, warm and inviting ! Super idea to place a few images of what is available in your etsy shop on the blog side bar. Might catch the readers eye and interest.
Bright hopes border is a great idea ! Thanks for the tutorial !
Sometimes an idea will happen when I stop thinking about it, the project at hand, too much. All of a sudden there it is ! ah ha ! Why didn't I think of that before ? I can appreciate it when it does :)
Virtuous -thank you for taking the time explaining and writing all this for us !
A cup of tea, gusty winds and your blog to read add a perfect moment to my day :)
hugs, take care,

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your lovely gifts. May God bless and sustain you as you touch our lives with His love!
Victoria H.

Little Penpen said...

Jenny, this is so beautiful. I don't know if I'll ever stitch this, but I definitely downloaded it , just in case. Wouldn't this make a beautiful wedding gift for a new bride?

Kim said...

I used to become overwhelmed thinking of how I wasn't doing all these great things that this virtuous woman is exemplified as doing. But as I grew older and learned more about the "seasons of life" we go through, I began to think that she probably did various of these things during different seasons of her life, probably not all at once. Stress managed. :)

Lynette said...

Hi Jennifer
I have only recently find you on Pinterest and I love your beautiful embroidery/applique quilt work. I have purchased one of your designs from your Etsy shop and can't wait to begin that project. Thank you for making The Virtuous Wife quilt project available for free to all of us! Looking forward to journey with you through Prov 31:10-31 and future post from your blog!
Stay blessed and hope your kitty feels better soon!
Blessings all the way from SA x

Susan said...

Thank you for this whole post and the pattern. I know so many women who look at Proverbs 31 and feel defeated, as if they can never measure up. They look at it so literally, but I've always felt it was a guide to the kind of person we should all be ... men and women. Valiant is one of my favorite terms, but valiant in what? In caring for our families, in serving God, in teaching others, in testifying of our Savior ... so many things, but one thing at a time. If we have a man who is also valiant, who supports us in our efforts, who leads us onward, what a gift we both are to one another! You've done a beautiful job of broadening the meaning of this virtuous woman, and also defining the beauty of who she is and what she does. Thank you, Jennifer.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Thanks Laura, I hope we all grow as women in the Lord through this project and study. Bless you!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Thank you Victoria...x

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Kim, thank you for that insight! You're right...it's not to achieve all at once, but as we are able and in the right season of life. :-)

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Hello Lynette - lovely to "meet" you, and I hope you enjoy working through this project. :-)

Allie said...

Oh golly this is amazing - both the design and the study - love it so much, girlfriend! I'm one of those who is usually defeated by this wondrous woman in Prov. 31, so this will be a true blessing. Love you!!!

Susan said...

Last year the book club I am a part of read a book that discussed this chapter of Proverbs. We learned learned what you have said in your post and + what some of the other commenters shared about the chapter. It was a real eye opener. Too long I and other women I know have been "brow-beaten" with this passage. Looking forward to the study.

I will be downloading the patterns, but won't get to making the quilt right away.

terricheney said...

I did an intensive study of this Proverbs a few years ago, using the Hebrew letters that are ascribed to each verse, studying words and root meanings and gained so very much from that. I shared on my blog and periodically go back to reread that whole study. It helps me so much! I'm looking forward to your sharing these verses and hearing what God has revealed to you in your study. I don't believe I by any means learned everything as I studied and for that very reason, I am finishing my second Bible study on the book of Acts and looking for a third one. With each reading, I learn something new because I'm allowed the privilege of what has been revealed to others.

Mary-Louise said...

Thank you for your lovely email xx

learn with miss hillbilly said...

As I explained on a previous post (and I might have already commented already but I am off work today and reading this better now than on a lunch break!), as a widow I previously couldn't have dealt with blocks such as this. But now I look at it exactly as a teaching thing for my son. What does type of home will his need to be someday?
How should a husband cherish his wife? And what would he want as a wife?
Thank you for this and I look forward to stitching it up. Also a lot of people follow me on fb still and so I can use it as a tool on how to move on after becoming a widow.

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer ,
Here we go again with another BOM to stitch. I am looking so forward to this one. As proverbs 31 is near and dear to my heart. I love the Block 1 Design and I always associate you and Annabelle with birds..so excited I need to shop my stash to see what I can put together for this BOM. So I can can get started on it. I love the beginning of a project. Thank you for the bible study as well that goes along with this. I love to gain more insight into his word

kupton52 said...

What a beautiful post! I, too, have never considered Proverbs 31 as a mother's advice to her son, but rather a blueprint a woman should aspire to.
In this crazy world where the "best and brightest" cannot even define what a woman is, God's Word is where we need to look for answers. I look forward to this BOM along with the (too) many others I'm working on....I just see the finished products as future gifts for my 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren. I they don't look to God's Word then maybe they will see something of value in Gammie's stitchery! Blessings from WV, USA.

Anonymous said...

Late here as I just found your blog and love it~

I thank you so much for sharing your talents including sharing your ability to not shy away from THIS Bible teaching!

I was a widow at a young age- had 2 teen kids and 2 smaller ones and that marriage was filled with abuse as was my whole childhood.

I also was born with a brittle bone disease which at age 40 put me into a wheelchair FT BUT now that my kids are grown, I have time to do more things I want and should.

I am now married to a wonderful man who adopted my youngest kids and this man takes care of me and does what a man should though it is all a learning process.

I am learning always and love to learn and many years ago found a Teacher who taught the Bible word by word verse by verse. With his Scholars and the help of a concordance bringing it back to the original language and studying the colloquialism at the time of this talked about has led to a much more understanding of the whole Message from our Father.

I look forward to reading and following you and reading what others say. I ask my Father to give me patience and understanding as I tend to be very opinionated and vocal with impatience.

I am sure each of us were led here and whether we stay is a choice we make and I am happy to say I will be staying and listening.

Thank you for everything <3 <3 <3


Jane Ellen Hillis said...

I’m late to this project but plan to stitch this quilt beginning in January 2024. That is wintertime here in Alabama, USA and my least favorite month bc it’s always so dreary and a real let down after the holidays. I’ve found that planning a new stitching project gives me something to look forward to. Your insight into the meaning of this scripture has given me new thoughts to ponder. Most of all as to how I can share this with my 5 grandsons. Age ranges are 22 to 9 so it’s quite an age range to contend with. I am one of the main influences in my 15 yr. old grandson Scott’s life. His parents are workaholics sad to say. I’ve kept him from age 6 months until he started PreK and as a High School sophomore& football player he still spends one night a week with us not to mention a daily call to share about his day, his celebrations, frustrations, hopes, worries, and most of all to ask if I’ll fix him something to EAT!! Lol I want to share this knowledge of a virtuous woman with Scott. He is quite a godly young man to only be 15 and loves to discuss the Bible so this is a perfect topic of conversation for us in the NewYear! I adore your heart for others and love for the Lord! I count you as part of my tribe Jenny