Monday, August 22, 2011


I'M NOT USUALLY much of a joiner, although years ago I was a member of Diane's weekly needlepoint class. Then I decided that particular form of needlework didn't fit my lifestyle at the time and I dropped out of the group. Remember, never say "Never". Last week I rethought that long-ago decision.

There could be no better setting in which to enjoy the pursuit of stitchery. Diane's home has appeared in more than one magazine and it's a beautiful place.......another reason why I marvel at our continuing friendship. In her English Tudor home, I've never seen one inch square inch of untidiness, whereas I live in middens of "stuff" ....... as though all of my treasured belongings had been stirred with a big spoon. And when in our home, Diane never seems to criticize, although I can just imagine what might be going on in her mind ........ we're that different in our living styles.

Diane's class sits around this table to do their stitching.

It's a joy just to be in this house and the decor changes with the seasons so there's no stopping to think of whether it's fall, summer, spring or winter outside. I met Diane long ago when she was a customer for the children's books she loves and uses in her displays.

Red Riding Hood is featured in the photo above. We had a customer once upon a time whose daughter referred to the character as "Reddy Ride Hooding", which still makes me smile.

On with my story. Diane recently, when reading my anguished blogs about our present situation, invited me to rejoin her class, even though I'd have to bring my knitting rather than using thread and canvas as the other students do. I grabbed at the opportunity to be out in the world for a few hours with normally functioning human beings and enjoyed the first session last Saturday.

Eva brought her completed piece to show to the group.
I wonder how many stitches it contained and the title reminded me of the road trip I'd thought about taking, driving back roads to North Carolina. I was only halfway serious about it, but any such idea has now been obliterated.

Carol is working on a tiny canvas of a merry Santa Claus. She enjoys working small on canvas 18 holes to the inch. I remember Carol in high school and never dreamed we'd be stitching together 60 years later.

Fiona was in the midst of an ambitious project involving rabbits. As long as I've known her she's had projects under way. Before I met Fiona nearly 50 years ago, she had enjoyed a wood carving period and has done beautiful shutters for her home and a gate, as well as a mantle over the fireplace. And together we knit whole outfits for ourselves for a good, long while. Nowadays it's needlepoint for her.

Diane stitches daily and is working on a rug of beautiful designs.

She's amazing and her lovely home is filled with her work.

How lucky we are to have her as our needlework mentor.


Not only did I accomplish a few rows of knitting, but the conversation was good and regardless of which direction it took, Diane had something from her copious library to further enhance the subject. I'm not sure how I brought up the matter of Gee's Bend, but in addition to the story of that town's ferry which caught my interest in a Pulitzer Prize winning series in the Los Angeles Times back in 2000, the subject of the community's residents and their famous quilts was appropriate for the needlework group.

It was a refreshing morning and I returned to the Manor a renewed person, I think. And I get to do it again next Saturday!

Mr. Bob is doing fabulously well, doesn't mind and probably looks forward to his solitary time. There's food in the dining room downstairs and a string in each room to pull in case of an emergency. What could be better?

P. S. Yesterday, I gave you some erroneous information when I said that Diane's book, "Wonderful Stitches".  is out of print. I was mistaken. It's beyond me as to why no major publisher ever picked it up.  It can be ordered from Lulu by following this link

"Really I don't dislike to cook, but what you cook is eaten so quickly.  When you sew, you have something that will last to show for your efforts."
                                        ~Elizabeth Travis Johnson


  1. Fabulous.....Wow! I love her home and i loved yours even more.. Your kitchen was just plain fun!
    I learned to knit in November...Love it

  2. This post prompted me to grieve two things---that matter to me more than I'd like to admit. We are about to undertake our third move in three years with no permanent address in sight. I have thrown out 30 years worth of files---all the gardens I imagined I'd grow and all the trips I'd dreamed of taking. And, I can no longer imagine a home---because a real home takes time and creativity to nurture.

    This post, especially the decor where the seasons are the featured guests, was my longtime dream and I've given that up for a modern, practical elderhood. I have cross stitched up a storm for decades and given almost every piece away---so there is nothing warm and evocative to hang on my (bare anyway) walls.

    I have never had the home I dreamed of and seem destined to a gypsy life. With a deep longing, I celebrate and marvel at the warmth, love, and creativity in your post today, dear Jane. Steep in Diane's lovely home and the company of dear friends.

  3. I'm curious about why stitchery is seen as a woman's thing and calligraphy a man's thing.

  4. I've been known to study calligraphy. I never thought of it that way. Rosie Greer was a needlepointer and I understand that in England it's not uncommon for men to knit.

  5. Your post and the comments here have reminded me of that friend of mine, a man, whom I taught to knit and he knitted a woollen scarf himself! And then he taught me to cook some delicious Argentinian dishes.
    I like reading about all the people you know and how much you appreciate and admire them!
    I'm happy that you are back to your great stories, Jane.

  6. Such talented people! And I do remember some of the beautiful celebration photos you shared on flickr and your blog about times in that lovely home.

  7. This is a feast for the eyes! I smiled all the way through. (You got me started when you made the comment about your "middens" of stuff!!)

    Glad to hear Bob is doing well! And you are, too.

    Thank you for making my day, Jane.
    Lots of love, Jeannie

  8. If I were the patient, I would feel terrible, self-inflicted pressure at being the center of attention at all times -- especially from my loved ones. It's just too intense. I would be happy to know they took time to take care of themselves and to still have joy in their lives. I'm happy that you are taking a little bit of time for YOU Jane.

    dee f in c'ville, va

  9. Well I haven't posted here for a long while. Glad to hear things are coming along for you two. This piece causes me to mention the needle work and quilts our aunt Elinor made. I have a dresser scarf she made on her cherry chest in our bedroom. Syd and I go to Barnes & Noble several evenings a week. Wednesdays a knitting group takes over the coffee shop here. Fifteen women and one very bald husband. Be well.
    John in Illinois