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Grandmother (Daddy's mother) quilted extensively, leaving all of us with several lovely heirlooms. I regret that I never really learned to quilt. Aunt Mercedes is the only one carrying on that tradition as far as I know (I think she can do almost anything that involves sewing or painting). Mama Sadie (Momma's mother) crocheted, and I did try to learn how to do that. I never got past doing those simple little chains that don't require a hook. After attempting to learn to knit years ago when I worked at Roderick's Arts & Crafts (after-school job while I was in high school), I don't think I'm fated to do anything with yarn but get it into tangles that amuse the cats. Hey, I finally learned to knit! I'm a beginner, and just doing scarves, but I'm knitting! I've just put the things I've knitted on Ravelry so far (I'm TechnoMom there, too), but I'll add them here at some point. I've also done candlewicking, needlepoint, and several other kinds of handwork.

Katie started "helping" me with me stitching when she was tiny. I'd let her pull the thread through the fabric after I placed the needle, and she was soon wanting to do her own projects. She didn't originally like using patterns, but preferred to work her own designs without even charting them first. She still does that at times, but she chooses to use patterns from time to time.

Handwork is one of those paradoxical activities that can be both very solitary and very social. I would like to know other local stitchers or be part of a stitching group, so I've started a mailing list for Atlanta Stitchers and listed the Atlanta shops I know of on the page for the list.

It's a surprise to find anything that looks reasonably original or well-done, and I often find myself modifying designs to fit my needs or making my own graphs. Thanks to my sweetie, I am now the proud owner of a copy of Patternmaker Pro and was even a beta tester for version 4.

Book Recomendations

You probably didn't expect to find recommendations for mystery books ona page about needlework, did you? I just had to mention two authors, though - especially since I learned about their works in RCTN.

The first, Monica Ferris, has three enjoyable books out that are set in a needlework shop, Crewel World, owned by Betsy Devonshire. The first book is also called Crewel World and has a counted cross-stitch pattern related to the plot printed in the back of the book. Framed in Lace has a second cross-stitch pattern in it. There's a needlepoint pattern included in A Stitch in Time. The design in Unraveled Sleeve is some sort of counted work. You could probably do just about anything with it. A Murderous Yarn includes a small pattern based on an antique car. I don't have Hanging By a Thread yet, so I don't know what kind of pattern it will have. I met Ms. Ferris a few years ago when Sampler Cottage hosted a book signing, and she is every bit as delightful as her detective.

The heroine of Roberta Gellis' novel A Mortal Bane is in some ways far removed from Betsy Devonshire—she runs what is referred to by one character as "the most expensive brothel in London." The business is registered on the tax rolls of medieval England as a house of fine needleworkers, and the ladies do, in fact, design, stitch and sell various pieces when they aren't otherwise occupied. I found the novel fascinating, and it certainly seemed true to the period (although I'm certainly not an expert). The characters were well-drawn and sympathetic, as well. I enjoyed the next books, A Personal Devil, Bone of Contention, and Chains of Folly too.