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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Stitched With Love

Today is Epiphany. The twelfth and last day of Christmas.

I am not really one to go around boasting “Look at what I got for Christmas…” But everyday, sometimes several times a day, I find myself walking into Sweet Boy’s room with a singular purpose: to look at, touch, and marvel at a piece of handiwork that has been over 100 years in the making.

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A few years ago Grandma Jingles led me into her bedroom and asked me to open her decades old hope chest while she sat on the bed. Together we sifted through the contents: lovely lace, antique stockings, an old hat or two and several quilt pieces and tops that were never quite finished. She asked me to take them home and finish what had been begun by my great~great grandmother over a century before.

It might be a good time to mention that I do not know how to quilt. But for some reason or another my grandmother had faith I would somehow get this overdue task accomplished.

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Upon my return home it took several days to hand launder, line dry and iron all the fabric which was heavy with years of dust and must. The fresh and clean pieces were placed in acid free tissue and tucked into a closet.

From time to time I would venture into a quilt shop and inquire about classes. The instructors would “Oooh and ahhh” over the old flour sack cloth and occasionally an offer would be made to purchase the pieces to which I would politely decline. I would talk about attaching cotton batting, creating homemade binding and finishing with hand stitching. Each inquiry came with the same reply: “We only teach machine quilting.” Back into the closet the pieces would go.

Time passed as this season of my life tends to be filled with my children’s activities.

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Two springs ago I went to go visit my cousin L. During the trip I was enraptured by the quilts she had made. True works of art that hung upon her walls. The talent that lies in her hands is beyond incredible. She is incredible.

This past year, when so many others fell by the wayside, she has remained true. A constant source of love and encouragement. She repeatedly asked “How can I help?” “What can I do?” To which I would reply “Just you asking is enough. That speaks volumes of how much you care.” To which she would once again say “Yes, but what can I do to help?”

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Like many others, it is hard for me to accept offers of help. It shouldn’t be that way. I know this. I myself like feeling helpful and I shouldn’t deny someone else that same joy. One day a light bulb went on in my head and I was able to shift the focus off of myself and turn it to my son.  So when she asked again I said, “I have a quilt top that my great~ great grandmother started years ago. It is small: it measures approximately 40” by 64”. I would love to have it finished to lay at the foot of Sweet Boy’s bed. The pieces are old and in no way straight. It could possibly frustrate even the most experienced quilter.” She said, “Send it to me.” So I did and every now again I would get an email or phone call that revealed she was still hand quilting the precious piece. It took months.

A package arrived a few days before Christmas, a very busy time, so I set it under the tree to open when my full attention could be given to such a gift.

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Christmas morning came. I opened her gift last. I was completely and utterly speechless. As I ran my hands over the fabric tears spilled over my cheeks and onto the well worn cotton. It was beautiful. Priceless.

Every stitch a stitch of love.

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It was in me to reject such a gift. I wasn’t worthy.   

But I realized that she sees me with different eyes than which I see myself.

I am embarrassed to admit that I still haven’t called or written to her. Not because I have nothing to say, but because my heart is too full and mere words of thanks seem… inadequate. 

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But each one of us is worthy of such a gift. It is our choice whether or not to accept such gracious goodness and loveliness.

Let us all be wrapped in His love. 


“She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” ~ Luke 2:7

“A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:7

Update: For those of you who left lovely comments, sent emails and facebook messages regarding this post, the answer is yes, my cousin is a faithful reader of this blog. I actually wrote the story for her as so many of you guessed. Smarties!

My cherished kin read this entry and the written arrow did indeed hit the intendeds great big heart.  Cheers to her!


Kelley Dibble said...

Send flowers first.

I'm bawling....................................


Jane said...

Oh, my goodness, what a beautiful quilt and a beautiful story about its history and completion! I have a few that one of my grandmothers made, so I can appreciate your feelings.

Pieced Pastimes said...

Your cousin's loving stitches and your acceptance of her gift are simple blessings that should be embraced and rejoiced in. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story!

The Comfort of a Safe Place said...

What a lovely story of unconditional love and of a kind and gentle soul. You are beyond blessed by the act of another...just because she asked, What can I do to help? The quilt is a gem! ♥

Grace @ Sense and Simplicity said...

What a lovely gift. It was many many years in the making, but will now be treasured for many many years to come.

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

What an amazing and beautiful gift! I love it!!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

It's a beautiful quilt, Laura! I love seeing the pictures of all the fabric pieces used in it. I hope you can find the words to thank your cousin; she did a wonderful job.

Babiole de Windsor said...

Wow, this is just beautiful and such a wonderful part of your family history! Fantastic

Bonnie said...

I have tears, too. When you enjoy something it is not as hard to be selfless. I think your cousin did stitch each stitch with joy. I hope she has a computer to read your post because if so, she can feel your gratitude and awe. It is hard to allow someone to love you with their time because we don't want to owe them but receiving that type of love is what Jesus does for us.

Such an endearing story of giving selflessly.

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Such a beautiful quilt and what a priceless gift of love. Hugs, Marty

Carol said...

This is so incredibly beautiful, Laura. You have to call her, even if you only "blubber" over the phone -- she will know and understand.

Happy 2013 to you and your family!

Ceekay-THINKIN of HOME/Doublewide Decor said...

Absolutely beautiful and PRECIOUS! I am sure she was thrilled that she could do it for you!
I have my MIL quilt she pieced when she was 13. I had it backed and slightly quilted....

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Not only is the quilt beautiful, but so is your cousin! I can quilt though I haven't in awhile, so I know what a true labor of love this was by both the starter and finisher of this quilt.

Antiques And Teacups said...

A gift encompassing time, love and skill is worth SOOOO much more than the most expense thing purchased. What a treasure! Made with love binding fabric, family and a history. Priceless!!!

April Dunlap said...

Beautiful story; lovely, lovely quilt. What a priceless reminder of just how much you are loved!
Thank you for sharing your joy in this gift with us, and for reminding us of His greatest gift, also. What blessings!

ImagiMeri said...

My silly, awesomely sweet friend....some day you're going to figure out how special you are. What a precious piece of history, and I'm sure little man will cherish it forever.

God Bless,

Debra @ Common Ground said...

what a precious story, and a precious quilt. This is a blessing you will never forget. God's timing is everything, dear Laura!

everythingsewing said...

Such a beautiful story. You are so blessed.

Sue said...

I love hand stitched quilts. The amount of love put into these says volumes. I wish I knew how to do this and maybe someday I will. This particular quilt turned out absolutely beautiful. And the history behind this quilt is awesome. I can imagine how full your heart was and is when you opened that gift. Love it, Love it, Love it.

Organized Island said...

Loved your post on the quilt! My word for the year is embrace and this is a perfect example...I think we forget to embrace all that loved ones have to offer (or we just get too busy). I hope your cousin gets to see your post!

Art and Sand said...

I am in tears from reading your lovely story. I am a hand quilter (not a good one) and I know how much work goes into hand quilting. And the fact that the quilt has been in your family is so touching.

Enjoy your beautiful gift.

Redhead Sadie said...

Oh sugar. What a treasure! I am dying to see it in person!! And in looking at the colored fabric pieces, I am fairly certain that most of them date to about 1880 to 1900, no later. How fantastic for all of you!!!

Susan said...

What a very special gift! The quilt is so beautiful! It will be a heirloom that you will always treasure and be passed down to your children.

Carolyn@Sweet Chaos said...

What beautiful gifts... the quilt and your cousin :)

Kenya said...

You should call her ...the words will come

Sarah said...

Laura, it is a gift from the heart and your heart will know what to say when you talk to your cousin. Call her and let her know how touched you are. It is a wonderful gift. Hand quilting is definitely an art from and something that is most certainly done with a loving heart. I can see why you are so touched.

Karie's Chic Creations said...

Beautiful! Hugs, Karie

Jill Flory of Sew a Fine Seam said...

How wonderful. I can quilt - and if possible I am hoping to buy one of my grandmas quilting frames when they have the sale of her things later this spring. Hand quilting is just so beautiful.

Lorrie said...

A beautiful story of love in action.

Mimi said...

YOU Deserve that gift!!!
What a beautiful piece of fabric stitched together with love

Carole said...

I am sure she would love to see this post. What a wonderful gift of love.

openid said...

Your quilt is evidence of HIS love and timing using Grandma Jingles and Cousin L. Stitched in love, indeed! May Sweet Boy always be securely wrapped and warmed by this beautiful gift.
Cousin L is very talented.
Your Friend,

Jen said...

What a beautiful and priceless treasure! I know you will treasure this quilt forever. Family is wonderful and precious without a doubt.

Auntie Em said...

It is wonderful to be able to finish these beautiful pieces of our family history and give the next generation a chance to enjoy them.
I have a quilt my mother made for me a few years before she passes away and at first I was so reluctant to use it, especially after she was gone. But then I realized it was made with love for us to use and now it stays on our bed summer and winter. It's like a soft gentle hug from her every night when I get into bed.
Thanks for sharing your sweet story and hopw SB enjoys his beautiful hug each night from all the generations! :)