Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Handkerchief By Any Other Name....

My friend Jo Ellen is a wonder!  She's a teacher (newly retired), a musician, a great gardener, an avid quilter, active in her community, and an all-round great friend!  She's also an avid collector of things vintage, well-loved, and you can understand why we never run out of things to talk about!!

This spring she invited me to lunch at her house as a "thank-you" for a miniature chicken house I had made for her farm fairy garden.  She loved the tiny coop, but I loved the visit to her home much more!  Jo Ellen doesn't just collect things, she "lives" with her treasures...she creates vignettes in her home...uses these things every day.  

 Her kitchen is a great mix of thoroughly modern built-ins and pieces great-grandmother would be quite at home with.  She served lunch on an antique tablecloth, on blue and white china, and made the shortcake for dessert from her grandmother's recipe!   And that's just the kitchen!

  I persuaded her to let me come back and take pictures to share with you (more later) but the thing that stayed with me the most was a charming quilt she had made.  Since we love the idea of re-using treasures from the past, this was definitely the place to start!

 There are lots of ways to use those beautiful handkerchiefs that were so much an item that went everywhere with yesterday's woman.  No woman left the house without hat, gloves...and a pretty hankie tucked in her purse.  I remember my grandmother kept one with her at all times...tucked inside the cuff of a long-sleeved dress, or in the summer...yep!..tucked in her....ahem!...bodice!     

 Handkerchiefs can be dainty and sweet, with drawn work, cut work, or sweet embroidery.  Some of the most charming ones though were done as pretty florals...bright, cheerful and delightful! 

 Jo Ellen uses vintage handkerchiefs in many ways...a fluff of them in a vase, as doilies, an accent in a little tray of old greeting cards...and they make totally wonderful quilts.
 I'm not a quilter;  I certainly admire the patience and talent it takes to create these works of art.  She started out with a collection of colorful florals and created a coverlet especially for her granddaughter.  Since the handkerchiefs were different sizes, she used a soft yellow for the background blocks and made each hankie a "star" in its own square, quilting each block in a different motif.
  (We took these pictures, quite appropriately, in her back yard flower garden surrounded by beds of summer flowers, great shady trees, and resident birds talking all around us.)

 When the quilt was finished it became a "flower garden" to snuggle under, to read a book, to take a nap, or simply be charmed by the pretty colors!   Her granddaughter's name is fits, doesn't it!!