A Splendid Sampler Update

Dear Vi,

I can’t believe how many letters I’ve written to you in my head. Just about every morning I wake up with an idea for a letter, and then poof! it’s gone. So today I thought I’d just stop trying so hard to remember what it was I wanted to say and show you what I’ve been up to.

002

I’ve been talking about writing and knitting so much lately, you probably forgot that I’ve also been working on these crazy little six-inch quilt blocks.

009No kidding, Eh?

006

I’ve made 90 so far. Yup. I’m ahead of the game, since only 88 have been published. How is that possible?

008Well, you know how I am, Vi. I like to do things my own way.

007

If you’re also doing the Splendid Sampler, you’ll notice that there are blocks in here that aren’t “official,” along with some that I’ve personalized. Maybe they’re not officially splendid sampler, but they’re officially Splendid Nita, lol! 010

And in case you ever wondered just how small my kitchen is, this picture should give you a pretty good indication. I’m standing on the dining room chair to take the picture:003Yesterday I made two more:011That’s it for today. What have you been working on?

Write back soon!
All my love,
N.

Blog Posts: Letters to Vi

Dear Vi,

Blogging has always felt a little bit awkward to me. From the beginning, I’ve wanted to address each post as though it were a letter. But it always felt awkward. A letter to whom? And yet it feels just as strange to open a new page and simply start talking. I’m old-school that way. Letters always begin with a salutation, and in my mind, my blog posts have always been letters.

And then I checked a book out of the library called Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Have you read it? (I’ve read it twice, actually. I’ll probably read it again before too long. I should probably just go buy it.)

In the book, references are made to letters written by one of the characters, addressed simply to ‘V’. We don’t know who the mysterious V is, and it doesn’t really matter. These letters give backstory and insight into the life of Arthur Leander, one of the main characters.

And after that, I stumbled upon a fabulous knitting blog, called Mason Dixon. The authors of this blog write knitterly letters back and forth to each other: Dear Ann, Dear Kay.

There are probably more out there, but you get the idea. It certainly gave me an idea.

I’m going to try an experiment. I’m going to let my heart lead my hands and address these blog posts to a person.

Of course, that begs the question of to whom shall I address? If I pick one family member or friend, will another feel slighted? Or, God forbid, dread that they’ll be targeted next?

So I’ve chosen a person who doesn’t exist. I will name this person Vi.

As in rhymes with pie.

And you can silently substitute your own name, because you’re the one I’m really writing to.

There, doesn’t that feel better?

Until next time – All my love, N.

tumblr_m7g0uzhwpk1ryy165o1_500

A letter to my grade 8 Home Economics teacher

Dear Mrs. Rudd,

I hope this letter finds you well and still sewing.

You won’t remember me, but I was one of the fourteen-year-olds in your eight grade home economics class at Keithley Junior High in the fall of 1974. That was the year after girls were first allowed to wear dress slacks and pant suits to school instead of skirts and dresses. No jeans…those came a year or two later. That was also the first year that a boy was allowed to take home-economics and a girl was allowed to take shop.

14 years old

You taught me how to follow a recipe and plan a menu. I still have my recipe box from the cooking portion of the class.  It’s crammed to capacity now, full of 42 year’s worth of recipes, including cards in my mother’s and my grandmother’s handwriting.

recipe box

You taught me how to iron. And by the way, I am the only person I know who actually loves to iron. I will happily spend a Sunday listening to Cross Country Checkup on CBC radio while ironing everything in the house…cloth napkins, tea towels, pillow cases, every shirt my husband owns.

You taught me how to use a sewing machine and read a pattern. And for that alone, I will be forever grateful.

I remember that we had to choose a pattern and actually sew an item of clothing. My mother took me to the fabric store and we browsed the pattern books together. I decided on Butterick 4265. It was an ambitious project, and I remember my mother trying to talk me into something a bit more simple. You and my mother were both concerned because I was adamant that I didn’t want to sew an apron or a simple pajama bottom. But no…I wanted to sew a pant suit.

In the end, I agreed to just sew the top and leave the pants for later. It was my first ever attempt at sewing anything. Ever. Complete with set-in sleeves, patch pockets, top stitching and a zipper. I don’t think I actually wore it anywhere…I hadn’t done a very good job, really. But it didn’t matter to me…I was so proud of myself!

I remember my mother coming into the home-ec classroom for a parent/teacher conference. I remember how you discussed my completed project with my mother, your finger tracing a line along my uneven top-stitching as the two of you remarked with pride on how I had tackled and completed such a big project.

I also remember that I did not feel discouraged by your critique, which tells me that it was delivered in a careful and loving way, the way a valuable teaching experience should be.

You taught me that putting in a zipper properly and stitching a straight line were things that one can improve upon. Things that can be mastered.

What I learned went so far beyond learning to follow a recipe for a casserole, how to sew a patch pocket and balance a checkbook. No…what I took from your class was a fearless belief in myself.

I’d like to say that again: A Fearless Belief in Myself.

Thank you for that, Mrs. Rudd.

Now…that pant suit pattern. I was in the thrift store the other day and you’re not going to believe this, but staring up at me from the bin of patterns for .25 was the exact one that I made in your class.

And guess what…it’s in my current size. I might even sew it up for old time’s sake.

butterick pattern

I wanted to tell you that I have been thinking of you almost every day these past couple of weeks as I embark on re-learning those skills you introduced me to more than 40 years ago. I feel you leaning over my shoulder, your finger tracing the line of the zipper, reminding me to line up the notches, showing me how to tie off the threads at the end of a dart by hand.

When I think about the women who influenced me in my life, you’re up there in the top ten.

I know you’ll probably never read this letter, but I wanted to say thank you.

Mrs. Rudd, 1974.

Mrs. Rudd, 1974.