Tag Archives: memories

Letters to my Grandchildren

No, not my grandchildren – I haven’t got any!! This is the¬†last of my pre-Christmas speshal sekrit projects, that I’m now allowed to talk about ūüėČ

A totally handmade quilt, using¬†recycled fabrics and little babyknits, and incorporating letters from the recipient’s mother (sadly now deceased) to her grandchildren.

It’s a quilt covering four generations, and was made for a lady who is now a grandmother herself – she has three children, and six grandchildren – using the baby woollens *her* mother had knitted.

It all came about from the lovely little baby knits that had been saved, and passed down and around the family, so that all the babies had worn most of them at some point or another.

I really, really didn’t want to cut into the knits … they were too darling, and it was in my mind that should the great-grandchildren want to, they could always remove them from the quilt and use them again. There was also the issue that the knits weren’t all wool – some were acrylic and some were cotton, so not amenable to felting. (I accidentally attempted to felt an acrylic jumper once … I’ve never seen anything GROW so much – that’ll teach me to read labels!!).

So …. I made each of these 9 little knits into a separate square for each of the children and the grandchildren, using various fabrics – some fine old white linen, a little embroidered silk, some pale pink flower-patterned satin … stabilising and setting-in the knits to the fabric was a little stressful, but successful, I think.

I hand-stitched the quilting, keeping myself to 4 colours of thread – pink, gold, green and white, because I didn’t want to distract too much from the knits or the other detail – over the top of each quilt square is embroidered the name and date of birth of each of the children and grandchildren.

Because this was so personal to this lady, we decided to incorporate some letters from her mother to her children …. embroidering that amount of script would have been a herculean task, that I’d probably still be working at, so instead I scanned and printed sections of the letters onto printable cotton.

These got cut and stitched together, and form small strips in between the main squares …. and a single, entire letter on a slim bias tube running around the central square. Cross stitch over the top holds everything together (it’s all slip-stitched as well).

I really enjoyed making this … the only not-so-fun part was the printable cotton – it was terribly unfriendly to hand-sew, so I don’t think I’ll be using it again.

The result is gorgeous, and I’m so pleased to have these photos of it in-situ (particularly as I forgot to take photos myself before I sent it off!!), and to see it being used on an everyday basis.

Crossing paths

My parents have had a clearout recently, and my mum passed this on to me:

It used to belong to my grandmother, who passed away three years ago, and mum found it in one of the last few boxes of her possessions that they sorted out.

It came with its original box and had its original leaflet with it:

These lovely flowers are made of moulted flamingo feathers which have been salvaged from along the shore of world famous Lake Nakuru. They are made by handicapped African artisans who carefully match slight variations of feather types and colours in order to produce a large variety from which one can choose. The colours range from blush white through the pink shades to scarlet and then back through rich brown tones to black.

By special permission from the Board of Trustees of the Kenya National Parks these waste materials are gathered and utilised. The birds are in no way disturbed. Regular remittances by the Bethany Bookshop to the Parks helps to support their wildlife conservation program and all profits from the sale of the flamingo feather articles are used in the philanthropic work of The Africa Gospel Church.

Where this is special to me, is that my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Kenya, at Lake Nakuru and in the Great Rift Valley, and I still remember the Lake, with its pink-fringed shores, thick with flamingos. It intrigues me that a strand of my life has somehow overlapped here with my grandmother’s, our paths somehow crossing, even though at vastly different times and in widely different circumstances.

It intrigues me, too, because my grandmother was a magpie herself, loving finery, and a grand storyteller as well. But no-one remembers her ever wearing this, and she has no stories about either going to Africa, or having friends who went. My father remembers that his father – my grandfather and her husband – was stationed in East Africa during the war, but thought he was mostly based in Madagascar – so I wondered if this was a gift from him. But this box and the leaflet dates as 1966, long after the war ended – and my father nearing adulthood – and so the mystery remains.

Whatever the circumstances, I love this connection to her, the crossing of our paths, and the little sad reminder that I never got to hear *all* her stories. I still miss her.