‘What’s in the Box?!’ (actually IN the box)

Continuing from The Box…Originally meant for quilts, not as my bed nor coffin (read the link above) there are quilts but mostly it’s crap.

My family quilted 100% using their bare hands holding threaded needles prior to the 1970s.

Ladies like my grandmothers and great-grandmothers (and many before!) had their quilting frames hung on rafters near the fire so they could see (we had no electricity). It kept them neat and tidy during the day (or out of the way for the dancing!). You pulled them down to work at night (or during the day if a friend came to visit — to help!).

This is one way to raise the quilt frame but you can also do one that rolls up, like a blind. These dancers are currently 'promenading.' I know because I'm certified Callerlab, bitches.

This is one way to raise the quilt frame but you can also do one that rolls up, like a blind. These dancers are currently ‘promenading.’ I know because I’m certified Callerlab, not to mention like, a real Hillbilly. Rly.

None of the quilts in this box are veritable museum pieces, made by my family members’ wee fingers without electric machines let alone lights. Those are kept away safe where nobody -that’d be me might spill whiskey!

If you’re looking for that kind of post, try the Smithsonian.

daily butter dishHere’s a common butter dish. I reckon it’s Depression Era by the looks but I’m no expert. It was my great-grand-baba’s. It was left on the table. One of the ‘handles’ is broken. –it wasn’t me, rly The yellow inside isn’t butter. It’s a Post-It note.

Made by church ladies, bought by Lois for LRI like the pattern of this quilt but I don’t give two tears for it. –that’s a pun, ‘tear’ as in tearing fabric?  a) it was not made by family members b) it’s machine-quilted

It was purchased by my mammy (the birth grandmother who raised me) as a church donation. She has been dead a long time. I don’t know what to do with it but I’m happy to have a reminder of her love and charity, even though there’s no ‘heirloom’ attachment.

unbleached muslin detailI didn’t photograph several yards of unbleached muslin (since donated to Feed My People). This ties in. -that’s a pun, we’re just not there yet; I should probably write drafts instead of word vomit

circa 1970s?

circa 1970s?

Speaking of blandness, there’s a US Army blanket. I used it through my teens. It’s thin but dense and there’s NOTHING like a several-decades-old wool Army blanket. When I fell into a frozen river a few years ago, Brother wrapped me up in one he keeps in his car. I’m still here!

Since I made you look at bland things, let me share something pretty! These are crochet works by my grandmother and her mother (great-grand-baba). Bright yellow is Baba’s. The deeper yellow is Gram’s.



Shame on me for not taking better photos but I was truly trying to just catalogue what crap I had

Shame on me for not taking better photos but I was truly trying to just catalogue what crap I had

By age three, wee Lily was set upon a child-sized chair next to Gram and a needle and embroidery floss were provided. I was taught to thread needles and tie knots the first couple of days. Then, I was set to stitch work.

Around age 9, Gram gave up on my needlecraft and set me to crochet. I never made it past single chains. Someplace, there’s an example of my embroidery ‘skills’ around age 9 when she gave up. I believe it’s a lily (go figure) in purple and I believe it spells out a day of the week. The project was meant to be a tea towel for every day. I seem to recall it began on Sunday and never went further. ::sigh::

Remember that unbleached muslin? In my shame at failing embroidery and crochet, I tried candlewicking, then gave up needlecraft.

If you look at the crochet above, IMO, Gram’s exceeds her mothers. Her mother’s needlecraft far exceeded Gram’s. Gram sewed everything and that included my school clothes until middle school. It’s not like she couldn’t sew. I’m simply stating Baba was a Master.

The crochet works above are not fabulous. They’re what Gram and Baba cranked out for themselves or family members. Later in life, Gram started selling — because I kept telling her to stop giving it away! She loved working with her hands. She always encouraged my practise in needlecraft and crochet by saying how relaxing it was. I hated it.

She liked to crochet ‘lace’ and pretty bits but not large projects like afghans. My friend Sheila taught me to crochet (I’d forgotten) and I since made afghans, Breast Cancer Awareness ribbons and ONE pair of baby booties (they were a bitch).

Back to pretties, here’s an example of Gram’s embroidery and crochet together. She did lots of pillow cases.

Hand embroidery and crochet trim by Lois

I just noticed as I posted this that it’s a butterfly and the quilt she bought has butterflies…I bet she designed this to ‘match’ it. I simply can’t recall.

Let’s have some more kitsch:

Candy tray, Lois Wine decanter & glasses Lois

The candy tray (or what I’d call one) is what we put shelled nuts in at Christmas. The wine decanter has another 2 glasses that I couldn’t be bothered to unpack. This sat on her sideboard alone with a Liberty Bell sweet jar, a multi-tiered candy dish and something over to the left that I can’t recall. Mind you, ‘the left’ isn’t shown here. We’re going by my memory of the sideboard that I wish like hell I owned. It wasn’t worth money but I played constantly in its drawers and cabinet doors! I was only allowed to touch the sweet jar on top, though!

Back to some quilts. This is a long, rambling post, so if anybody is still reading, bless.

Here’s one that is a 100% hand-made, zero electric machinery, only human-hands and needles and threads quilt made by my Baba. Why it’s here, although it is an heirloom, is because it makes me sad and I just don’t know. The needlecraft looks about like I did it. This is a terrible insult to my Baba but there’s a reason why.

She was blind by this time. I almost started crying typing that. Wow. Breathe…

HAND quilted (no machine) by Nancy BooneI want to be clear: I could not possibly build this quilt. I don’t have the patience, skill or talent, let alone time.

My negative comment is only if you held it in your hands, you can visibly see the stitches. She was blind, so ya know. Eff off.

The last photo is a very special quilt. I have never liked it but it’s also a sort of heirloom but even more than that.

It was tack-quilted by…Me.

I was a baby girl, crawling on top of it, tying knots with…Baba. Who had long gone blind.

I tacked this quilt with my blind great-grandmother, built by my mammy. I keep it close because I may need it.

It's not very pretty

It’s not very pretty


9 thoughts on “‘What’s in the Box?!’ (actually IN the box)

  1. I like looking at other people’s stuff. I especially like Baba’s crochet doily, the pillowcases, and the quilt with the star blocks.


    • Lily says:

      It’s nice but my Gram’s crochet are really knockouts. I think you have to hold them in your hand to tell. The pillowcases, too. I just can’t show detail with a crappy flash cameraphone ;p

      The star blocks design is very famous but I can’t recall the name (probably ‘star’). The wedding ring design is also very famous and I like it but that’s one that’s put away.


  2. I love this post. Quite the time capsule you’ve got there.

    I think your baba’s quilt is lovely and I’m glad the one that you made is still around. I’m not sure I’d save the butter dish… 🙂 My Nan (father’s mother) crocheted something for us every year as kids — usually a pair of bootie-slippers. When I went to college she crocheted a big blanket for me (in my school colors). She died the following year and it is very precious to me.


    • Lily says:

      That’s so sweet! I offered the butter dish to mum’s sister via mum and she turned her nose up at it.

      It’s sitting on my kitchen table, complete with Post-IT note as I don’t know what to do with it, either!

      Your school colours afghan sounds great! When a friend who’d never planned on having kids became pregnant (we’re of an age) at 35, I began an afghan for the blastocyst. When the baby was 3 or 4 months old, it was done 😀 It *was* big enough for a single bed, though! Not just a ‘baby blanket.’ When she’d get sick, her ma would wrap her in it. Makes *me* feel special, although I’ve never gotten to hang out with the squid. Hard times hit around that time and my travel is down to whoever can basically pay me to visit, horrible as that sounds.


  3. What wonderful and special things you have in the box (which also has a sentimental attachment). My own family does not seem to have been very talented when it came to a needle of any sort (or maybe they were and nothing was kept). My ex-husband’s grandmother did exquisite embroidery & crochet (he would still have some of those things) and the manservant’s grandmother made quilts; a couple of which we have packed away in a suitcase.

    I love the butterfly embroidery & crochet – I remember the ex’s grandmother doing that sort of thing in women’s groups through the church. They would also crochet around the outside of face washers and more delicately around handkerchiefs. Actually, now I’ve written that I realize I still have some of those hankies – they always seemed too pretty to use.


    • Lily says:

      Yup! New hankies for Easter!

      Gram would also do very quickie things that anybody could do as yarn tassles (even I did those for her) about tea towels or such for Christmas. It was okay that they were sort of gaudy cos the gaudier the better at Christmas 🙂


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