Tucked in the rolling green hills just outside of Nashville sits the Hermitage. My husband and I spent a morning there. When the docent was ushering our group through the front door of the mansion, I spied – could it be? – nine patches in progress in her little wooden basket. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t stop to inquire. Our group had a tight schedule and the next group was already queuing up behind me.
But look who I bumped into out the back door, taking her break on the veranda . . .
I got to visit with this lovely lady and make a new friend in the process. She teaches at the local university, and researches and sews all the costumes for the Hermitage staff. She saves the scraps and stitches them up into nine patches in her free time. So there she was, stitching away on beautiful reproduction fabrics from the 1812 era.
Her grandmother taught her to handstitch. If there weren’t twelve stitches to the inch, out they would come to be stitched over again. Grandmothers used to be like that!
A wise professor advised her to pursue both her education and her passion; and combine them if possible. My new friend Jill dove deep into the history of costume and how it reflected and shaped history.
My husband also followed his passion when he chose a career in history. My career was spent teaching in elementary school. So my knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. Which is to say that I relish knowing things, if not profoundly understanding them. I do understand that the world is a beautiful place full of wonderful friendly people.
. . . And quilts!
And coverlets and needlepoint.
They’re hanging in stairwells And pulled from drawers by friendly docents
And decking the hallways!
And out on the street.
Way to represent, my fellow hand makers. We’re so proud of you.