Sunday, October 23, 2016

Little Bee

Made of wool, penny rugs are representative of the kinds of domestic arts that women and girls pursued during the mid- to late-1800's. They have become popular again with today's quilters. I was drawn to these mysterious little things when I browsed quilt magazines or visited quilt shops. I wasn't sure how to make one, but true to form, instead of asking about them or taking a class, I decided to make one on my own. I don't know when or where I got the notion that I can make things without instruction! As is usually the case, I needed some help. When I saw a class offered at Mt. Pleasant Quilting Company, titled: Enchanted Pennies, I signed up. You can read about Mt. Pleasant on their website:

I gathered up the wool pieces I had acquired and headed off to my first class. As I sat at the table, I noticed the pretty wools the other women had in front of them. Mine didn't look at all like theirs. What I discovered was that the packet of "wool" that I purchased in a wool and yarn shop was actually felted and not 100 percent wool. It looked like wool to me when I bought it, but it didn't look like what everyone else brought to class. I decided to be frugal and make do with what I had. After all, this was a craft that had its humble beginnings when the makers used wool scraps from clothing, which is far removed from the conveniences of today with beautiful quilt shops where quilters can buy patterns, fancy hand-dyed wool for handwork, and threads in every possible color, shade and hue.

Several of the women who sat near me in class were very nice and generously shared their soft pretty wool scraps with me. I think they felt sorry for me! I used the donations and was grateful to have them. "Thank you", my anonymous quilt-y angels! We learned a few embroidery stitches in class, but then after a couple classes, I didn't finish the project. When I had surgery in 2014 and 2015, I worked on it a little while I recovered. In the beginning of this year, I listed my UFOs, which in the quilting world are UnFinished Objects. You can read about my UFO list here: This piece was on that list. Having the quilt show this year was a good incentive and helped me complete it. Here is a link to my quilt guild's blog, where you can read about the quilt show:

When I finished all the embroidery on my piece, I noticed a vacant area in the upper right corner. I decided it needed something. I cut out some of my "wool" and made a little bee that I heavily beaded. I liked him so much that I named my piece "Little Bee" in his honor. :-)

He is only an inch long from nose to tail, but he was so much fun to create,
that I named my wall hanging after him.

There are definitely more penny rug and wool projects in my future. At the quilt show, I purchased some of the "good stuff" and some high-quality embroidery thread from a vendor. I am a strong believer in buying the best quality materials that I can afford. Having the right tools and good materials goes a long way to producing a nice piece. So why I decided to make do with my wool pieces is probably due to being brought up by parents who lived through the Great Depression. Everything had to be used in our house until it was used up. Little pieces of string were tied together to make a longer piece and wound around a jar filled with buttons. Cups with broken handles became flower pots. My mother took clothes that had served their purpose, and were not suitable fabric for rags, to an elderly lady who used them to make braided rugs; but before she delivered them, she snipped the buttons off and saved them in her button jar! It has been hard to break myself from the habit of saving every little thing just in case I find a new use for it someday. And, all in all, even though the wool in my piece was not the "good stuff", I do like how it turned out. I learned a lot in making it, from selecting the right fabrics and thread, to learning a variety of embroidery stitches and taking a class.

"Little Bee"
Wall Hanging
23" x 18"
Pattern: Enchanted Pennies
Book: Pennies From Heaven by Gretchen Gibbons
Wool on Cotton Background
Embroidered by Hand
Quilted by Hand

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. I plan to write another post soon with my sixth and final quilt from the show. Until then, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


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