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“Of course! No problem! I’ll do it!”

I can’t begin to tell you how many times my enthusiasm for any new endeavor has become much, much more than I originally anticipated. My husband even calls me Whim Woman, a reflection on my willingness to follow whatever adventure appears in my path.

So when my friend Casey asked me to repair some of the quilts her Aunt Dot had stitched so many decades ago, I instantly agreed. I’m a Spastic Crafter who has dabbled in nearly every media available. The stacks of barely used Sculpey and dusty scrapbook paper vie for studio space with my other active obsessions. Hand quilting an heirloom? Sure I’ll try!

I am currently in the midst of a passionate love affair with fabric. I love to fondle it as I pass by in a fabric store. Or (much to my family’s horror) accost people who have bags or skirts with material that I fantasize … cutting. Yes, I stand before you to admit that I often imagine fabric in a form other than as it is presented to me. A skirt on a passerby at the local minor league baseball game transforms into the cutest pillow cases for my bedroom. A pair of vintage café curtains turn into a set of matching aprons. A sheet at the Goodwill outlet becomes a pair of pants for my daughter.

It’s no wonder, I guess, that quilting appeals to me. I just can’t resist the idea of taking scraps of previously used bits and renovating them into something New and Improved. The allure of depression-era quilts, then, is an undying fantasy for me. Imagine! A scrap of feedsack combined with Uncle Bub’s overalls becomes … a quilt!

I love the idea of using scraps to quilt. Making something from nothing, spending little to gain a lot. But really, I love the idea of a woman sitting down, needle-thread-fabric in hand, and creating. Pouring her heart into each stitch. I believe that each stitch of a handcrafted creation contains fragments of the creator. The stitches are imbued with the goings on of the creator’s life, with her thoughts and emotions, and, tangibly, with the scraps of her life.

So when Casey called and asked me to repair one of Aunt Dot’s quilts, I leapt at the chance to help preserve a tattered and extremely well loved piece of family history. As Casey said, Sunbonnet Sue had seen better days. Her bonnets were hanging by threads, her clothes worn thin. I sat down with this quilt of scraps (many of which Casey could identify as being clothing leftovers from various family members). As I held the quilt close and began to inspect my project, I realized that where the stitches had come loose I could still see Aunt Dot’s original needlework. As I re-created the quilt, I passed my stitches through the very same holes. As I worked, I became captivated. I wondered who had lain underneath this quilt. I wondered why Aunt Dot selected this pattern, why she chose these particular scraps.

As I worked, I became compelled to learn more. I checked out quilting books from the library. I trolled the Internet for vintage fabric care. Slowly, I learned about the patterns, the fabrics, the history of this quilt. I stumbled upon Jennifer Chiaverini’s series of books and devoured each one in sequence. I read historical pieces about women who sewed quilts by hand in addition to the fictional accounts of quilting.

As my obsession has grown, I have taken to haunting antique shops for hand-stitched creations. Upon encountering a quilt top, I immediately thrust it to my face and inspect the stitching to verify that it was done by hand. I then, for some oddly compulsive reason, flip the work over and look at the back. For some reason I am fascinated with the hidden, secret parts of a quilt. The knots that were never meant to be seen, the underside of the public stitches.

I then return home to continue work on my current quilting restoration project, filled with an eager intensity to work. My fingers are now callused from the hours spent stitching, while my hands so quickly recall the rocking motion of each quilting stitch.

About the author: Courtney Havenwood (redcanoe.etsy.com) is a multitasking maven. While homeschooling her kids and enjoying the wonders of Austin, she sets aside plenty of time to create. Her favorite thing this week is stitching anything that will hold still. She enjoys quilting, embroidering, knitting, crocheting. Check out her latest adventures at her blog woodland school.

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This lovely hat began as a horrible failure of a sock pattern. I wanted to make lacy socks with my handspun yarn time and my gauge was off. The sock was so big that I knew I was going to have to frog it or donate them to the nearest bariatric hospice. While ripping, I found a hat waiting to happen.

This hat is fairly deep. It can be pulled over the ears and forehead on blustery days or worn higher on the head with plenty of room for a ponytail.

The Lacy Girly Fancy Hat looks best with mismatched clothes and a spaghetti sauce beard.

Yarn: One skein Lanaloft Worsted, 160 yards. Any worsted weight yarn should do. (Isabel received this hand painted skein when we toured the Brown Sheep factory–no other yarn will do for her. I’ve never seen this colorway in stores. A solid color would show the lace better.)

Needles: Toddler requires size 7 double pointed needles, larger sizes can be worked on16” size 7 Addi Turbo circular needle until decreases, then worked on double pointed needles to finish crown.

Finished Size: Toddler(Child, Teen/Adult): 14 (17, 20) inches around before blocking, can be wet-blocked out larger for a slouchy fit.

Lace Pattern: (Gull Wing Lace–a favorite of Elizabeth Zimmerman)

Round 1: *K2tog, YO, K3, YO, SSK, repeat from * to end
Round 2: Knit across
Round 3: *K1, K2tog, YO, K1, YO, SSK, K1, repeat from * to end
Round 4: Knit across

[click to continue…]

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