An Oasis of Calm with Punched Paper and Penny Rugs
The Man-of-the-House photographed an ancient Magnolia in town. I wonder how long ago it was planted. In spring the flowering trees in Lancaster are every shade of pink. Red bud, dogwood, cherry and crabapple bring refreshing beauty to the beholder.
Next to flower gazing, I find that there are few more pleasurable pastimes than that of hand stitching. A friend shared with me the craft of punched paper mottos. In turn I shared the craft with my sister-in-law. She was intrigued. My sister-in-law has a home business. Answering the telephone when it rings intermittently throughout the day, sometimes from 8 in the morning until 8 at night, can be particularly taxing. But it pays the bills and her son’s college tuition. She has precious little time for stitching – especially if the pastime translates to overtime in an already full day. That’s why I was startled during a rare visit to her house (out-of-state) when I was presented with a framed motto. My further surprise was seeing it stitched in a phrase she evidently remembered hearing me say. How sneaky she is, as well as artistic.
I held up the motto to admire it closely. Sitting with my sister-in-law on her Victorian plum-velvet sofa in the middle of her business hours I said, “Ooo, I like it. Thank you. It’s elegantly charming. How on earth did you do it? I mean, when?”
She smiled a big smile. “I keep the sewing bag here, beside the sofa. When my paperwork is up to date and there’s a lull in calls, I’ll come in here and pick up my needle.” At the word “needle” came the ring of the telephone. I watched my sister-in-law head for her roll-top desk on the other side of the French doors. As I rose to go, too, for my visit was short, I recognized the hum of the clothes dryer and the fragrance of something simmering in the crock-pot that had eventually wafted its way into the living room.
I waved good-bye to her through the French doors. She caught up with me at the car to wish me farewell. Then she shared something that I was delighted to learn. Although her episodes with needle and thread were of brief duration they were enough to relieve tensions that mount when problems arise in the business. Not only was I touched by the gift, I was touched by the fact that for this busy homemaker, stitching was an oasis of calm, something very different in her day of “next urgent things.”
Little tasks make large return. Bayard Taylor
And so it was for the homemakers of yesteryear too, whose families were large and household chores were various and voluminous. A sewing basket set in arm’s length to a rocking chair could symbolize a break in the day, a moment of repose, and a treat in color and threads.
One early American home-sewn textile was the penny rug. These rugs were used as tablemats. Frugal homemakers may have recycled pieces of felted wool for their “pennies.” For tracing the circles a large coin such as a silver dollar, as well as smaller coinage could have been borrowed from the housekeeper’s strongbox.
A present-day revival of penny rugs means homemakers crave domestic arts as did their predecessors in the 19th century. Many who once said they hadn’t time for such things learned how the make time with pennies. To cut a penny out of wool takes minutes. To blanket stitch one circle to another may be all I may accomplish in one sitting but most of the time I complete at least one penny.
For my first try at this craft I confess that I bought a kit - two kits, actually. I think the candle mats are as cute as pie. They are of similar shape, aren’t they? Dare I admit to a short cut - that the pennies, as well as the scalloped mat, were pre-cut? I overcame disappointed that some of the wool in the kit did not appear to be felted. Yet it was a pleasure to sit on the sofa to arrange and rearrange the solid colors and plaids, forming pennies pleasing to the eye.
I am finishing one mat in traditional black. Nothing less than direct sunlight through a window will enable me to see the black-on-black stitching. An easy chair by a southwest window is my chosen spot but a garden spot would be even better.
The candle mat in vanilla matches the vanilla sofa. It is being blanket-stitched with a muted brown (2 strands of DMC 610) with a size 26 embroidery needle.
It was with impatience that I took out the camera to show you my almost finished handiwork. The mats pictured await backing and blanket-stitching along the edges. This makes a slightly thicker “rug”.
Wool remnants suitable for penny rugs can be found on eBay. My kits came from The Woolen Needle. An array of contemporary wool appliqué patterns is available today, too. Punched paper mottos can also be found with an online search.
Is there any handicraft that is being held in the planning and daydreaming stages of your mind - something accomplished in little steps, with pennies perhaps? (Click any image to enlarge.)
Happy to have you stopping by,
Dean and I plan to attend the CHAP homeschool convention Saturday, May 11th. Rainbow Resource is hosting a “Meet and Greet with Karen Andreola” from 9-11:30am. I am honored that this was their idea.
I invite you to stop by the Rainbow table as I am looking forward to meeting you in person. I like to chat. And I am happy to answer questions or sign old copies of A Charlotte Mason Companion. Rainbow has an impressive selection of “living books” for you to browse by subject.
If I know Dean he will be restless. He will scout around the hall looking for interesting newly published books.
Feel free to keep in touch, otherwise, through my personal email.