Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Handmade Parade: Recycled Vintage Embroidery Quilt

My grandmother and great-aunt, like many women of their generation, were skilled embroiderers. When they passed away, my mother inherited their hand-stitched tablecloths, napkins, and table-runners. Though many of them are too small for my mother's table, are worn/slightly damaged, or are out of fashion, she has kept them with respect to the work that her family put into making them, and for the memories and meaning they hold for her.

Some of the best cloths made an appearance at my brother's wedding a few years ago and my wedding last year, to honour my grandmother, who would have been so happy to be with us on those special days. But mostly, they've been folded up and stored in a cabinet.

My brother and his wife recently had a child, a beautiful bright baby girl named after our great aunt. To welcome her, I recycled some of the embroidered cloths that her great grandmother and her namesake stitched so many years ago and fashioned them into a baby's quilt.

The idea of my little niece cuddling up against vintage embroidery that was hand-stitched by her ancestors is so beautiful to me. I'm sad she'll never get a chance to know these strong and loving women, but she will definitely hear their stories... and she'll have a little part of them beside her as she grows into a strong woman herself.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Handmade Parade: Spice Tray

For almost as long as I've known her, my close friend has spent the summer at her cabin in Northern Saskatchewan. Every spring, she packs up her car and makes the trip to her favourite place on earth, only to return six months later before winter sets in. This means a huge packing up of the car, twice a year, and major decisions about what items are essential enough to make the cut.

I had all this in mind, plus her passion for cooking, when I made her a spice carrier last year. This baby will travel with ease between homes, and never leave her stranded without the essential ground cumin!

I chose airtight glass jars and then built a wooden box that would fit them snugly, attaching drawer pulls as carry handles on either side. I hand-coloured a vintage illustration of a "cuts of meat" diagram (from a pretty creepy 1960s cookbook called The Complete Round-the-World Meat Cookbook) to decorate the bottom of the tray.


(Aside: Is it weird that I collected this gem of a book, featuring such recipes as "Tongue in Almond Sauce", even though I follow a vegan diet? No? Perfectly normal? I'm a hero? Okay, good.)

I also made an accompanying cookbook for my friend, with categories and splash-resistant pages, so that she could keep her recipes organized in one place, ready for easy transport. I filled it with a few of our shared favourite recipes, and left lots of room for her own cherished discoveries.

Check out the illustration on the "Desserts" cover page...

Stay tuned... Megan will be reporting on our completed 'Seating System' shortly!