Thursday, January 04, 2007

Made with Love

A while ago I posted quite a few photos on my Flickr account of the contents of these two books:

Yard sale find

A few years ago, my SIL's in-laws moved out of the home where they had lived for over 30 years, to a smaller, more manageable home. I was, at that time, the unofficial yard sale queen of the "family", and as such I was invited to help during the big family yard sale. My SIL, the kids and I spent an evening with Grandma T dragging stuff out of the house, and digging through boxes in the garage.

The yard sale itself was a huge success, except for the moment where Grampy T opened a box and exlaimed, "MY TIES!" He tried to reclaim several ties which were as big as the sails on the Bluenose, but I managed to wrestle them away from him.

While the point of the yard sale was the clear out Grammy and Grampy T's home, I ended up bringing things home with me:
A set of vintage pink floral pillowcases and some other vintage linens
A little shelf, painted green
An old blue radio, that needs to "heat up" before it gets reception.
A Petri camera
The books you see above

These books proved to be the most interesting item. Grandma T brought them out to me and suggested that I might like them. She said that the lady who had given them to her was very good at arts and crafts and would surely be pleased that I had these things. According to the front cover of the smaller book, her name was Freda Arenburg and she lived in Dartmouth, not far from where I live now, in fact.

I've looked through these books every year since I got them, but it wasn't until this year, after reading so many craft sites, that I really "got it". Just look:



This dear little woman traced these onto onion skin paper. There are pages and pages of tracings. If you go to my flickr site, by clicking one of these photos, you'll be able to see some of the rest of them. Judging from what she has written here, I would say that many of these designs were meant for stencils:

Stencilling instructions - page one

Freda did make stencils out of some of the designs:

Butterfly stencils


She must have been a very dedicated woman, to have spent all this time, tracing stencils, painting them with shellac, and then using them to stencil gifts for family and friends. At the back of one of the books it appears she has copied an article from a magazine or a newspaper, talking about crafts which could be made as gifts:

Gift suggestions - page one

As I read the pages it wasn't long until I had a lightbulb moment: I actually own some of these items! No, Freda didn't make them. Don't be silly. I mean that over the years my grandmother, my grandfather and my great aunts have made gifts like these.

I'll have to take photos, but just sitting here in bed, I can think of:
- satin covered hangers - made by my grandfather
- a satin pajama case - made by my aunt Joanne
- doilies - made by a dear friend who used to work for my dad
- Stencilled pillowcases - made by my great-aunt (I think)

These are just the items that our Freda mentions in her book. When I think about things around my house, I soon realize I have a great many things that were "Made with love by" my grandmothers, my great aunts, my aunts, and my grandfather.

I am sitting here under not one, but two quilts made for me by my grandmother and great aunt J. In total, I own 5 quilts made for me by my grandmother and my great aunt.

I have pillows decorated with tatting, candlewicking and quilting.

I've just realized that I left an embroidered sheet set at my parents' house (Dad? Ivy? Is that white double sheet set with my initials still around? Grammy made those for me when I was in high school).

I have a picture that my aunt Jan (my mom's sister) drew and framed for me years ago. I also have the cutest Tole Painted step in my bathroom that she gave me for my birthday one year. Yes, cute Tole paint - it happens - it's got the coolest little frog on it! She also knit a beautiful blanket for me when I was a baby.

I have a pillow that my aunt Ruth (my dad's eldest sister) cross-stitched years ago (the one with the Roses and leaves).

I have a beautiful cross-stitched quote from Plato made by a former employee of my parents.

A dear friend, and daughter of my "other mother" crocheted a beautiful blanket for me when I went away to university. (It's in my closet not 6 feet from my bed right now).

I have paintings done by the mother of a tiny chihuahua. (They still need frames, argh!)

And if I were to look out my kitchen window, I can see the shed that my dad and his dear friend, Clifford, built for me!

Thinking about all of this hard work that went into all of these gifts over the years, I can't help but feel that my house is filled with love, pieced together out of yarn, paint, stitches, fabric, ceramic and wood.

After looking around at our antiques and my collections of memories, Mr. Happy often jokes that our home is a tribute to little old ladies. In fact, I think our house is a tribute to love, family and friends.

Not such a bad state for a house, wouldn't you say?


  1. Let's hear it for little old ladies! What great treasures you have there.
    Will you be able to send me the pattern for the ribbed hat you were wearing at the shop the other week, please? I think I'm going to knit it with the Kureyon. Thanks!

  2. Anonymous7:48 a.m.

    I have just recently "got it" too.

    I have a crocheted throw in loud shades of rust and orange (love it!) that my greatgrandmother made. And the hooked items from my mom and Nan-in-law...

  3. Very cool find! I have scrapbooks from when I bought my loom at an estate sale in Bridgewater. They contain sample weaving, notes, and lessons from the Nova Scotia Design Centre. The former owner of the loom took lessons from Mary E. Black!
    Then there is my Grandmother's scrapbook. My house contains a number of things my Grandmother (maternal) made, she sewed, knit, crocheted, tatted, embroidered etc, as well as paintings my Mom did, items my Mom sewed. My Dad's mother - Granny knit a lot however I never received any knit items from her, I think she knit mainly for the church.

    Poor Grampy T, I would have let him keep one tie... :-) reminds me of the time we burned Dad's yard work coat out in the fire pit after breakfast on Christmas day several years ago... however that is a story for another day.

  4. It's wonderful state for a house to be in. Don't change a thing!

  5. It's so nice that you appreciate all this. What are you going to do with the ties? I have several pics up on flickr of stuff I've made. I love sewing with old neckties.

  6. could you bring these precious books to kol some time?
    Treasures like those are how I validate my hording. Of course keeping all my notes in an attractive little book is still a bit beyond me.
    My mum keeps books like these which will be just as amazing some day but in the mean time, helping her move, theyre just a pain in the ass (well, really my back-moved 20 magazine tubs yesterday aiaiai)
    See you soon!