Friday, November 18, 2016

Recording A Handcrafting Heritage and Legacy

This afghan is the result of untold hours of  loving work by my mother-in-law. We can't blame her for the cat.



Illustration from the linked article captures today's mood.
 I have taken all the drugs, plus a lot of sugar and am now sitting upright, but still having a hard time seeing the point to anything. Pain and depression work well together that way.

There is a better description of fibromyalgia pain than I can write today in the linked article. If you know someone with this ailment and want to understand, or if you are skeptical that it is real, please read. 

By the way, all the drugs in my case includes the disease-modifying stuff I'm supposed to take every day, plus Tramadol (a weak opiod), Excedrin, and Crystal Light with caffeine.

I like to believe that if I lived in a medical marijuana state or had a doctor that was willing to risk my becoming addicted to opiates, my pain would be controllable enough that I could keep working. Pain-thinking is very urgent and short-term.
Like most active Mormons, I take my caffeine cold.

I slept as well as usual last night after sleeping most of the day yesterday and sleeping the night before.

What did I do to myself? Three things--felt hope, called lawyers, and visited Hobby Lobby.

Late last week I got a letter denying my claim for disability because I can sit, stand, and walk. True, I thought. Maybe I can do something. So I tried to be just a little more active. Nothing amazing--just sitting when I felt like lying down and standing when I felt like sitting.

Also I prepared and taught the lesson at DUP(more to follow) which reminded me how much I enjoy hearing myself talk. Maybe I can do something.

Maybe not. I didn't sleep Monday night. On Tuesday I reached out to disability law firms on line, on Wednesday, I set appointments on the phone.

A triceratops is necessary for any inclusive unicorn collection,

Not really sold on the butterflies yet.
And I ran one errand. To finish my sweater, I needed a few yards of ribbon.

 After less than an hour, I left Hobby Lobby with lots of ribbon, butterfly decals, a triceratops, and pain.

There is a reason I usually buy my crafting notions on-line. That store is brilliantly set up for impulse buying and pain is bad for impulse control. It's a good thing that all the yarn there is synthetic. I'm still surprised I didn't buy any.

Which brings me to now,  held upright by caffeine, trying to cobble together a blog that makes a little bit of sense.

This quilt was pieced by my maternal grandmother and hand-quilted by my mother-in-law.


When Thomas Jefferson gave his son-in-law the writing desk he used while composing the Declaration of Independence he included a letter certifying it’s ownership and authenticity. 

Painters sign their works. Books are published with the author’s name right on the cover. But artwork created by hand from fabric, yarn, or thread rarely comes with any sort of maker’s mark and can quickly become anonymous.

I began to dwell on this while preparing a lesson on souvenirs and memorabilia for my Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP) group. The lesson manual and museum photographs focused on keepsakes from travel. But as I sorted through my own treasures for examples, I realized that most of my cherished items were not travel purchases. Instead, I have a wealth of items hand made by talented people in my family.

My maternal grandmother gave me this piano runner, but she didn't remember who made it.
I also realized that none of these items bear the names of their creators. My sons don’t know who made most of them. In a few cases I don’t know myself. If I don’t leave a record, those who come after me won’t know which items are precious and why. 

I shared this concern with my DUP sisters. At least one already has a notebook describing each piece of handwork she owns and who had created it. That inspired me to start my own record—on the computer with photographs. The photos I take for this week’s blog will serve a double purpose. 

Here are just a few pieces of my hand-crafted heritage: There are many more. I planned to photograph all the afghans, including creations from my paternal grandmother and my husband's great-aunt--possessions made more valuable because their creators have died. But I'm running out of steam and I'm just not up to plundering storage shelves today.

embroidered by my mother-in law

My mother-in law also pieced and hand quilted this star quilt for my wedding.
Afghan from my maternal grandmother
Another afghan from Grandma

Thoughts of my own legacy are unavoidable. My children, my knitting, and my writing are what I leave to the world. I’ve never wanted to sew labels into all of my creations because it’s one more sewing step that takes time from knitting and spinning. But on the other hand, I am proud of my work and like the idea of signing it. 

A quick look at Etsy, source of all great things, gave me 2,813 results for “custom fabric labels.” Here are two  that I like with the Etsy shop names in the captions.



In addition to giving myself credit, I would be giving my family and my customers permanent records of fiber content and care instructions. 

Once the highly expensive holiday season is past, I will have to look more closely at the options.


This simple hat is crossing the Atlantic right now.


The knitting highlight of the week was an overseas Etsy sale. For reasons I don't understand, I seem to sell more items to Europe than I do to the United States. Every time this happens, I shake my head because the orders come from places that I imagine as chock full of knitters. Why order something from Flyover, USA, when you can just ask your gran to whip it up for you?

Anyway, this order was from a gentleman (or perhaps, a pirate) in Penzance, England. Correspondence started with him confirming measurements and making sure that the hat was 100% wool. But he went on to talk about the hat matching his eyes and the nearby ocean. By the time his hat was in the mail, he had sent me multiple ocean pictures. It all felt quite flirty, which is something this housebound old lady doesn't experience often.

If you need unique hand-made Christmas gifts, flirting is fun, but not required. Check out my shop. If you are local, or passing through and can pick up your item, convo me and you can skip the shipping costs. 

I haven't made a ton of knitting progress this week--mostly false starts, but I did get brave and accomplish the steeking i.e. cutting of my sweater. It is now a cardigan and I am wearing it. I have a few fitting issues and am still debating a button or two, but am no longer entirely afraid of taking scissors to my work.

Knitters who want to support wool from the American west, my favorite woolen mill has started a yarn subscription plan. I am enabling you to buy more yarn by including this link.


  1. This is a wonderful blog, yet I am so sorry about the lawyer and the notice about disability. Receiving disability is a long road. I wish you the very best. Remember keep trying it often takes 4-6 appeals to get it approved.

  2. Thank you for reading and for your good wishes. Sorry for the delayed reply. It has been a week.