She watched and taught the girls that sang at their embroidery frames
while the great silk flowers grew from their needles.
~Louise Jordan Miln, The Feast of Lanterns
I am a big fan of needlework. Probably because I've done cross-stitch since I was about 12years old, as well as sewing and bit of quilting. I can appreciate the time this labor of love requires.
I am particularly slow with needle and thread, and I have a penchant for LARGE projects. Therefore, I have a reputation among friends and family for embarking on decade-long stitching endeavors. They know I will eventually get it done, they just might not live to see the day.
My mother is a stitcher. She first put needle and thread in my hand and taught me how to count the little squares, following the grid of hieroglyphic markings. My childhood home was adorned with hand-stitched sea shells in our bathroom. Our dining room had pastoral scenes of mill houses complete with waterwheels. A few years ago, after noticing the absence of these works on her current walls, I asked Mom what she had done with them.
"Those old things?" she replied. "Oh, I think I gave them to Goodwill."
I picked myself up off the floor then scolded her for her lack of respect for her own labor.
|"I keep my end tables full of needlework and quilting so I don't have to dust them." ~unknown|
This was the catalyst for my obsession with thrifted needlework. A piece of handmade love really stands out amidst modge-podged puzzle versions of Mona Lisa and brassy framed posters of famous Nascar drivers, the usual Goodwill decor fare. I can't help myself. I have to rescue them!
Then there's the linens....
You find them in messy piles at downtown antique shops. Table runners, blankets, napkins, hankies~all beautifully adorned with someone's creative handiwork. I've noticed, however, that shop-owners are getting wise to the value of these treasures, and their prices reflect this knowledge.
|"All my scattering moments are taken up with my needle."~ Ellen Birdseye Wheaton, 1851|
If you're lucky, you might find a gold mine at an estate sale. This is the best option as they are usually run by impartial middle-men, or out-of-town family; the main goal of both being to get rid of everything as quickly as possible.
Wherever you find them~Goodwill or Grandma's attic, please rescue these treasures! Take them home, give them new life. Let them tell you the story of the hands that prepared them.
|"Needlepoint: the delicious art of filling in holes with wool."~ Carole Berman & Jennifer Lazarus|
My Thrift Haul:
The above images are just a sampling of my needlework treasures acquired over the past year.
- Pair of Floral Needlework pieces $15 for both, found at local thrift & gift boutique (thus the higher price)
- Embroidered Linen Chicken napkins $6 for 12 napkins, found at local antique mall
- Green Linen Floral piece (I'm thinking it was going to be a pillow), $3 at local thrift/vintage market
- Yellow Linen Hankie (look at that stitch design!) $2 or $3 at antique market
- Retro Boat Scene $10 (this is a large piece, worked on linen with amazing vibrant colors), found at same thrift & gift boutique