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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.