Tuesday, August 11, 2009

on turning 90, the crafty bits

Some of you may remember a year ago, when we all (along with some of our New York relatives) trucked to Pittsburgh to celebrate my awesome Grandma's 89th birthday. Well, that was just a warm-up for this year's festivities. You see, when lots and lots of people love you and you are turning 90, that's good reason for a whole weekend of celebration! There was a pool party and open house, Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game with concert by O.A.R. (I didn't know of them, but sure did like them) and outstanding fireworks show, a church service in which the pastor referred to Gram as his girlfriend Jessie and a reception in the church's welcome center afterwards, and a lunch out for the friends and relatives who could stick around for it.

So now you know the big pic of how the weekend went, but since this blog's focus is on our creative stuff, here's a bit more detail on how the handmade things fit into it all.

Leah cross stitched and framed a little pic of her Great Grandma's favorite bird.

I, along with help from my sister, made Gram a pillow. You've previously known of this pillow as the "secret project." It was inspired by The Pillow of Sei Shonagon (scroll halfway down the page), but of course I complicated the heck out of the thing.

My version contains the signatures of ~250 well-wishers, including old friends, overseas penpals, her doctors, garden club pals, church members, relatives, and Historical Commission members. These signature snippets of fabric were then fused onto strips of muslin and woven into a background of holey handknitting and sewn to a purchased pillow.

There have been hints in past blog posts about what an epic undertaking this project was, including multi-state travel, dealings with pen companies, stuffing a zillion envelopes (earlier on the very day that we found out Gram had a mild heart attack!), help from people in other states (thanks, Nancy! thanks, Irene!), finding a pillow that was the right size/shape/color, soooo much secret communiction, knitting the background...oh, and Gram has so many friends that this originally one-sided pillow turned into a two-sided project, so back to the knitting again! Either I cast on the wrong number of stitches or my gauge changed along the way because the 2nd panel isn't as big as the first, so I was sick about it for a while, but finally made it work. Then, at the very end, I discovered that PERMANENT marker is not necessarily waterproof, but Scotchguard to the rescue to help get me over one last big bump in this road. An album with some more pics of the process can be found here.

I've been planning this project since the ride home from Gram's birthday last August,

actively working on it since May of this year,

and it has consumed my spare moments and my thoughts for the past two solid months.

And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

Love you, Gram!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its beautiful! Such a lovely, fitting gift.

6:38 AM  
Blogger J said...

Great Debbie. I am happy everyone had a wonderful time.

6:55 AM  
Blogger LaurieM said...

What a tribute!! I was surprised the pillow was so big. What a full life your Gram has led.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Debbie. Such a beautiful gift. I am blown away by the amount of love that you and those that you mentioned put into it. What a special occasion for your Gram!
Debbie R.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous CTJen said...

what a perfect gift. Happy birthday to Gram!

7:19 AM  
Blogger Delaney's Duds said...

AWWW! Great job. Glad you had fun. Tell Leah cardinal is lovely!

6:05 PM  
Blogger Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

I knew you'd go ;-)

7:16 PM  

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