Friday, February 22, 2013

Susan's Hope Chest

Yesterday I found the sweetest e-mail in my inbox. Susan shared with me some of her memories of creating her hope chest as a young woman. I immediately asked if I could share these memories and she graciously agreed.

My parents gave me a Lane cedar chest for Christmas in 1961.  As a young girl, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with the cedar chest.  Later that day, my grandmother gave me her mother's crystal pickle dish.  As a thirteen year old girl, I thought that dish was the most beautiful and sophisticated thing I'd ever seen.  Then I knew what I wanted to do with my hope chest. 

My grandmother taught me to knit and crochet.  My mother taught me to paint and sew.  I scoured the local Newberry's and Woolworth's stores for the newest Aunt Martha's patterns.  The time spent making items with these two wonderful women gave me so much more than pillowcases and dish towels.  They taught me life lessons that have been part of my life every day since.  It is heart warming to see the two of you doing the same thing - dreaming and creating for a wonderful future.

When I married in 1977, my hope chest was full of my treasures.  I still have many of my linens.  As they become too stained or worn to use, I carefully wash and iron each item and return it to the old Lane cedar chest.  Once in a while, I sit on the floor and go through the chest and remember the days spent making these dear treasures. 

Susan also reported on her current projects.

You ladies have inspired me to start crafting again.  I am re-making some of my old favorites.  My goal is to copy one project a month  from my original hope chest such as a set of pillow cases or kitchen set.  I will make two of each item, one for a gift and one for my family.  In January I made a blue kitchen set with white snowflakes embroidered on the towels.

For February I copied a set of pillow cases from my originals.  I made them a little bigger than standard size because we like large pillows.  They are a pale blue with a four inch navy blue crocheted border with satin ribbons woven through the open areas.  I seem to remember that the originals seemed to take a very, very long time to complete.  I'm not sure whether I've learned to crochet faster or I have developed more patience!

I am excited to share my March project.  My grandmother and her sisters made me a wonderful gift for my hope chest.  They got together and copied their favorite recipes  They hand wrote the cards and arranged by food type  in a wooden recipe box.  In those days we called it a "kitchen box".  Almost all the recipes came from family and friends.  They added wonderful comments on the back of some of the recipes.  Some were very simple and sweet such as, "I made this squash casserole for Davis on our first anniversary, June 16th, 1919."  Some of the comments were really funny as on Nora Nash's Chocolate Pound Cake recipe, "Mrs. Nash gave me this.  She always refuses to share her recipes.  I don't know why she likes me."  For my March project, I plan to put together a family cookbook containing all of these favorite recipes.  Since my technical skills are low to non-existent, my son's girlfriend has offered to help me with the technical part.  I plan on making a fabric covered binders.  The recipes will be printed on decorative paper.  We will include photographs of some of the women who contributed the recipes, scan copies of the original handwritten recipes with their notes and l will write a short biography and include stories that I remember about each lady. 

Its sad that these lovely women are gone.  Each of them lived lives of dedication and commitment.  They raised wonderful families, made warm and loving homes and served their church and community with strong and loving hearts.

You all can't imagine how happy I was to read about Susan's hope chest. I am so happy that others continue to see the value of this kind of project. And, I'm looking forward to hearing more from Susan in the future as she reports on her monthly projects. If any of you would like to contribute your memories, ideas or current projects in a guest post on the blog, please contact me at the email address in the sidebar. I would love to hear from you!


  1. I loved reading this! You never know who you are encouraging (nor who you will be encouraged by:)

  2. What a lovely post! I always enjoy reading your blog entries and seeing what you and Miss Abigail are up to. I have been inspired by you to make crocheted dish cloths and have embroidered a couple of dish cloths as gifts. Thank you!

  3. My hope chest has been growing along with this blog... it has introduced me to so many lovely ideas! The crochet edged towels was one of the first crochet projects I've ever finished, and works well on so many things. And embroidery! I don't know if I would have ever learned to embroider if I hadn't seen all the lovely examples on this site! Now it is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I have made so many embroidery projects now, pillowcases, towels, a hanky. Thank you!
    Do you happen to know any more edging patterns? I'd love to see some if you did, by any chance. -Rebekah

  4. Ladies, thanks for your comments. I'm so glad to see that others are inspired by the blog. Rebekah, I've been working on creating some edgings. Sooner or later, I'll get directions written and photos taken.

  5. I never really knew about hope chests growing up, and always thought for some reason that I just wasn't a crafter. However, in recent years I have begun sewing, crocheting and embroidering and have discovered that I absolutely love to craft! It's a little late to start a hope chest of my own as my husband and I have been married for seven years already, but this blog has inspired me to start a different kind of hope chest with special meaning. We have been trying to conceive for the past six years, and while it is heartbreaking, I am still filled with hope that we will one day be blessed with children. Money is extremely tight right now as my husband finishes his degree, but I am now starting a hope chest filled with items for our little ones, whenever they may come. Not only does it allow me to slowly and frugally prepare for whenever Heavenly Father chooses to bless us with children, but it also gives me great joy to craft these items, and makes the possibility of future children seem more real, which is extraordinarily helpful in those times when I'm feeling discouraged. And I'm already planning things I want to make with my own daughter for her hope chest someday. :) Thank you for such an inspirational blog and for sharing your journey!

    1. Kelsey, I so admire your faith-filled attitude. I am certain that a loving Heavenly Father hears your prayers and recognizes your desires. I'm glad the blog is useful to you!


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