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!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Peek Inside - Embroidered Crib Sheet

After embroidering a crib sheet for a baby gift recently, I completed this second sheet for Abigail's hope chest. I love "vintage looking" baby patterns. This one is an Aunt Martha's pattern and since we raise sheep, I thought the lamb was particularly appropriate. I've also been sewing those self-binding baby blankets. They make such a darling and quick baby gift! (pdf directions and a tutorial.) I bought flannel for both girlie and boyish sets for the hope chest, but these aren't finished yet. Soon, I hope!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine Cookie Stencils

Every year, Miss Abigail and I enjoy a whole day of making handmade valentines together. Along with the card making, we also eat chocolate and decorate sugar cut-out cookies. I found these cookie stencils on sale in Hobby Lobby some time ago and look forward to trying them out with Abigail this year. The stencils can go into the hope chest along with more fun memories of making our traditional decorated sugar cookies.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Peek Inside - Cluny Lace Edged Dishtowels

I have lately been working on the aqua/brown/cream kitchen set and can now add these pretty cluny lace edged dishtowels. They might seem just a little fancy for kitchen work, but I like how they look. Just a simple running embroidery stitch applied to attach the lace to the edge of the top and bottom hem.

So far, in this set, I have the  brown twist dishcloths completed, along with the waffle-weave handtowels and now these lace edged dishtowels.

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