Archive for the ‘From Grandmother’s Hands’ Category

let the melioration begin

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

1552, “to make better,” from L.L. melioratus, pp. of L. meliorare “improve,” from melior “better,” used as comp. of bonus “good,” but probably originally meaning “stronger,” from PIE base *mel- “strong, great, numerous” (cf. Gk. mala “very much, very,” L. multus “much”).

meliorate. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved January 07, 2009, from website:


when i woke up just before that magic hour of 3 a.m., unable to sleep any longer for worrying and stewing about what this one needs and what that one wants, i knew it was time to mend grandmother’s quilt. the one she made for me. the one that has my name embroidered in small green letters in one corner: J-e-a-n-n-e. Jeanne, period.


the quilt my kids always want to sleep under, regardless of the temperature. the quilt the cats nap best on.


the quilt that’s frayed from much selfish taking and not nearly enough giving; ragged from more use than care. the quilt that’s in obvious need of an infusion of respect and appreciation.



now i don’t know much about mending, and i’m loathe to add chirpy new fabric to the weathered old fabric, so maybe i start by cutting up those old aprons – i mean, really: who’s ever gonna’ tie one around their waist again?

reclamation and restoration is something i’ve been pondering for a while now, and in the dark early hours of this morning, i realized that it’s a project whose time has come.

yes, it’s time.

it’s oh so time.


loved raw

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

fingers haven’t been idle of late – not by any stretch – just not dancing with needle and thread. last night’s eventual quiet was punctuated with familiar strains of adult children quabbling over who sleeps under my grandmother’s quilt. the quilt made especially for me is quite tattered now, and we all (finally) agree that it’s time for me to start mending so this worn cloth can hold space for sweet dreams far, far into future generations.




happy, happy. . .


roots reunited

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

server issues now seem to be a thing of the past – thank goodness. when i first realized there was a problem last wednesday night, i was frustrated. tried to convince myself that some quiet time would be nice.

it didn’t work.

i missed you.

in cleaning out during my forced electronic exile, i found my old smocking machine, gave her a dab of wd-40, and rolled a piece of batiste through (breaking only 42 needles in the process and inventing more than a few new cuss words). a former jeanne taught smocking and enjoyed smocking clothes for the chiclets.


being a bag lady then and now, i pieced the salvageable ticking fabric from grandmother’s clothespin bag around the smocked panel and created a little tote.


more from grandmother’s hands

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

allergies have slowed me down to the speed of cold molasses, but help’s on the way thanks to laney. if you haven’t already, go see her alaska quilt project. be sure to click on the category so you’ll get the full story.

came to counterpane today – picked up new laundry room cabinets on the way in. ripped out the old ones and have set one new one in place. we’ll (somehow) get the other 2 in tomorrow before we leave to head home, then will get home just in time to unload hubbie and pick up daughter and head further down the road for a week of mother/daughter time. because we have no internet in the condo, posts will likely be sporadic, dependent on being able to find internet cafes/wi-fi spots.

i am taking autoquiltography one with me, though, and will have much to show for it. on the way home from supper, i stopped and collected my first bag of red clay in preparation for autoquiltography two.

since i have no photos to document my progress, thought i’d share another few pieces from my quilting heritage. this is a quilt grandmother made for my doll – she made one just like it for my sister and a cousin, too. of course being as smart as she was talented, she changed one row in each doll quilt so we would be able to tell them apart.


until we reunioned in my backyard and snapped these pictures, none of us knew that our doll quilts were actually blocks from a quilt she made for one of her sons.



all those tiny little pieces. painstakingly cut, arranged, then stitched together into something bigger.

something much, much bigger.

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still more of my quilting heritage

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

most of us took grandmother’s quilting for granted as just something she did to “keep busy”. but when we held the first quilt up to be photographed, there was an audible collective inhale followed by the most exquisite silence. silence of respect and appreciation and love-in-a-new-light. after a while, my cousin said quietly, “She really WAS an artist, wasn’t she.”





more of my quilting heritage

Friday, March 21st, 2008

cataloguing my grandmother’s quilts has been a long-time pet project of mine, a WISP. we took these pictures in my backyard with owners holding them up for the camera. though the pictures aren’t “studio quality”, i think grandmother would’ve liked having them photographed outdoors with her children and grandchildren in the picture.







clay and cloth

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

when i found my second born in shards, i didn’t see a broken creation but pieces that will be reborn into something larger, bigger, more magnificent.


where does this longing to combine cloth and clay come from? is it the joining of polarities, hard with soft? is it the long, long history of both cloth and clay as cultural bread crumbs? is it the way fire transforms malleable clay into something able to stand on its own, all the while retaining the imprints of previous encounters with hands and objects? the way flexible, pliant cloth develops more body, more sinew when embellished and manipulated and when going through fire, is totally and absolutely transformed into an entirely different way of being?

is it the resourcefulness people long before me have shown when gathering clay and cloth and shaping it into something functional, useful, and necessary? do cloth and clay represent the resiliency i’ve seen in so many people i’ve known along the way who start out to make something beautiful with their life, then when things go awry for reasons out of their immediate control, they gather up the pieces and mend, patch, and piece together to make something perhaps even more beautiful?

is it my affinity for place – more specifically, the south – where my life has known, both firsthand and through retelling, red clay and cotton fields? is it even closer – does it have to do with some of my daddy’s family being well known potters and my mother’s mother and so many women before her were avid quilters?




whatever it is – whether one specific thing or an amalgam of many, one thing is for sure: clay and cotton are my tara.