Monday, January 07, 2008

Stitches in Time

This is the wall-hanging that inspired me to finally blog about my Mother-in-law's amazing quilting and appliqué work. It appeared in the background of a photo of our Christmas Tree I posted earlier. As you can see, it's the Three Kings on the final leg of their journey to visit the Christ Child - the stable can be seen there in the distance, with a tiny Mary and Joseph kneeling over a lentil-sized baby in a manger. There is no detail so tiny that Mom O. won't attempt to appliqué it!

My favourite things about this piece are the holiday prints that she's integrated into it in the form of the Kings' robes and some of the layers of the hills (she is very skilled at picking patterns and colours that complement each other and is absolutely brilliant in other pieces she's done at effectively using patterns to evoke textures) as well as the proportions of the Star of David. I also just love running my fingers over the teeny, tiny figures in the manger - how she managed to turn a hem and appliqué them I just can't imagine.

There is a lot of Mom O. in Christmas around our house. She's made and gifted us with our Christmas tree skirt; several trivets and placemat sets; and this table centerpiece - which is currently doing service on a pedestal next to the front door beneath a candy dish made for us last year by our Goddaughter. (It has Hershey's Holiday Kisses in it at the moment.)

There's also my Christmas stocking...

...and Husband's. It's not quilted, it's felt appliqué, the original one she made for his very first Christmas!

Another wonderful piece she gave us as a gift is this wall hanging, which is about 3m long and which is meant to evoke a stained-glass window.

(A more literal evocation of a stained-glass window, featuring a dove, was commissioned by her church and was co-designed by Dad O. It's unbelievably beautiful.)

This bag she made especially for me (could you tell?) as, I believe, a birthday gift. It's a favourite and gets schlepped back and forth to Moncton even now, as I use it as a shopping bag and to take things to and from work.

Lest anyone doubt the level of care she puts into her work, the thing that is holding these cats' attention is a butterfly - a subtle addition which is simply stitched into the bag in barely-visible thread, just an outline, a shadow of a butterfly. A little touch that elevates the design from "cute" to "brilliant".

A detail of another wall hanging showing the quality of her hand-stitching. All this work is entirely hand-stitched, as are the full-size quilts she makes.

Unfortunately, her eyes have begun to fail her, and she has a lot of trouble seeing the tiny stitches now; and she also suffers from arthritis which can cause her great pain in her hands, among other things. Reluctantly, she has limited her needlework drastically. That makes me sad; but I'm grateful for all the wonderful gifts she's given us and dozens of other family members over a lifetime of creating beautiful things with her hands.


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Blogger Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Holy MOLY. Ronnie, these are amazing, but particularly the faux stained glass. The precision, the color -- it looks real. I mean, like glasswork. Even enlarged.

My mom-in-law does beautiful crochet work. I know all these skills are staying alive in the hands of a few members of younger generations, but too few!

Thanks for these gorgeous pix.

8:48 p.m.  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

These works of art are stunning, Ronnie. I am flabbergasted by how much I am drawn into them, and can't imagine the talent, skill, and perseverance that went into them.

I think you won the m-i-l sweepstakes at some point. Just marvelous, and please pass along my admiration and my thanks.

On a completely different topic: your post just showed up today (Jan. 7th) on Blogger, but it's dated Jan. 3rd. Any idea what happened? Did it get stuck in an interdimensional node somehow?

8:49 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

NFTP, thank you for your kind words. She is an amazing craftswoman. We have had so many happy conversations over her worktable as she asks my opinion about whether "this? or that? is the best fabric for this bit? And do I like this? or that? for the border? That's too busy, isn't it? Yes, I thought it was, too!"

Sherwood, I agree wholeheartedly that I simply won the Mother-in-Law sweepstakes. All y'all can tear up your tickets and go home. As for the mystery of the date, I uploaded the photos on January 3 to a 'draft' post, planning to add commentary later; apparently Blogger defaults the post date to the original post creation date. I've edited the date to reflect the actual contributions of my tired but grateful brain.


10:56 p.m.  
Blogger Ronnie said...

Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing that lovely work.

I've always embroidered or needlepointed something special for each grandchild and great-grandchild but have just reluctantly admitted that the last three (in the last year) will probably not get anything. That arthritis in those old joints! I might manage if I would just stop after a half hour but I enjoy it so much I keep going, and that's trouble. Congrats to your m-i-l, and don't overdo, so you can keep going and going.


12:52 a.m.  
Blogger Ronnie said...

Does everybody know one ronnie from the other Ronnie? I don't really like Sherwood's coinage of O'Ronnie, but what are you going to do?

O'Ronnie (as should have been in the previous post)

12:56 a.m.  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

As concerns the ronnie-confabulation: I think that regulars of any blog that the two of you frequent have no trouble at all figuring out which of you is posting just based on context. Both of you post lovely, insightful contributions, but they come from very different catalogs of experience, and that makes identification pretty easy.

That having been said, "O'Ronnie" works for me -- but maybe, for equity's sake -- MonCton Ronnie should sign herself "McRonnie".

Or maybe not.

(PS to O'Ronnie: you wrote to me a while ago about dreams... and similar ones to yours are visiting me now. It's not bad, or unsettling, just unexpected this far on. I'll blog on it sometime later.)

4:39 a.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

I never have any problems figuring out which posts I wrote and which The Original Ronnie did.

However, Mojo the cat is shattered, simply shattered, that you do not use his noble visage above as instant confirmation that it is MonCton Ronnie and not Original Ronnie posting a given comment.

"If you check out a post and the Mojo you see,
You're reading the gal from old NB.
But if no kitty has come out to play,
you're reading the Ronnie from the U.S.A."


1:07 p.m.  
Blogger Xtreme English said...

The needlework is exquisite. What true gifts! That's HOURS AND HOURS of work!! Bravo for mom-in-law....

9:52 p.m.  

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