Saturday, May 30, 2009

Robbin Douglas and Denise DeMore, both from Massachussetts, attended the 2006 Ackworth symposium mentioned in Thursday's blog post. Both ladies worked their books in 2008 when the Ackworth Friendship Book was a stitch-along (SAL) project for my internet newsletter, With My Needle and Pen. Thanks, Robbin and Denise, for the photos and details about your completed books. I'm sure you treasure the work done by your friends.

Robbin wrote, "Recently I finished my Ackworth Friendship Book. As you mentioned in your May 28th post, you were kind enough to give the chart to those of us who were at the first Ackworth seminar, and I decided to work it last year when it was a SAL in your newsletter. I asked friends around the world who were at Ackworth to stitch on it, so 7 of the 10 pages were stitched by people who were at Ackworth: Denise and Linda who are also in my Mayflower Sampler Guild here in Massachusetts, Lyn in Australia, Grace and Janet in the UK, and Ellen and Connie in the US. My dear mother-in-law Anne stitched a page (after all, I saw her when I was there even if she didn't make the seminar) and I stitched the front and back covers, putting JH on the back for Jacqueline who organized the whole trip.

"My book is stitched in Vikki Clayton's Old Maid of the Sea silk. Instead of following Ellen's advice, I picked my thread first and then was lucky to find the perfect lining color.

My one advice to anyone finishing this -- take Ellen's suggestion and use ribbon for your hinges. Because I had enough of my silk dupioni and the color matches beautifully, I decided to make hinges out of pieces of fabric. Unforutunately, silk dupioni frays so
easily that even with wide pieces it was not a fun thing to use for finishing. I definitely recommended using ribbon instead of a fabric that frays if you want to preserve your sanity!"

Denise wrote, "Ellen has been kind enough to submit my Ackworth Friendship Book to the blog. I must admit I didn’t get a chance to stitch any part of it. When it first came up as a project for her newsletter, I was so excited as I thought of it as one more thing in my stash I could complete.

"Unlike many others who just wanted to have those attending Ackworth complete their book, I decided to have members of my guild, the Mayflower Sampler Guild, and who were friends of mine, take part in the stitching. I asked nine people of the guild to stitch on my Friendship book leaving one page, the first for me to stitch.

"Two of the people had been to the first Ackworth event, and that was an added pleasure to the entire book. Well low and behold all nine people excepted my request and then I had a 10th person ask to be permitted to work on it. Well I couldn’t say no, and together we re-designed the first page to say ‘For DDM” my initials, instead of ‘ A Token’, that way the entire book en-bodied the idea of others stitching it for me. I was so pleased and delighted that people were willing to give up their valuable stitching time to work on a piece for me.

"I chose a Meadow Rue by Lakeside Linens for the project and AVAS 3426. I know that Ellen suggested to pick your lining fabric first in order to get a good match on the thread and the silk, but I am such a green color person that I couldn’t resist the silk thread. I later had to find fabric that matched and was very pleased with my decision. If I had to do the fabric first I don’t’ thing the project would have gotten off the ground.

"I originally decided to keep my linen in one large piece of fabric. The day after Christmas, 2007 I had my 20 year old niece and her 12 year old brother with me and I was able to get them to do a basting stitch to outline the 10 squares I would need. Of course it came out to 12 squares but they didn’t need to know that. I was impressed with how quickly they got the basting done for the outline and figured this would be a snap.

"I started stitching the first page of the book in one of the squares to give people an idea of how it would be placed. I never finished that square, in fact that was the one that later was finished by someone else and became my ‘For DDM’ page. Later Robbin Douglas asked me to do a page for her and since she was passing individual squares out to people she had decided to stitch the outline around each square. This was a godsend, and since I knew I would need to eventually send some squares out to people I decided to do the same thing.

"Additionally, Robbin, reminded me of my manners, as she sent out a small token of appreciation (a bobbin thread holder which was lovely) to anyone stitching for her. That of course gave me a great idea and I took up rank and did the same. What a wonderful gesture. I then stitched the outline on several square, cut them out and mailed them along.

"I was able to receive all the squares back by October, 2008. However the putting together piece took longer then I expected or I just didn’t find the time with all the ornament making I had to do. Either way, I was rushed to a JoAnn Fabric’s and began trying to match my AVAS green thread to fabric. I choose 3 or 4 different ones and eventually settled on a lovely small flower print that was a darker green on a green base. It really worked out well in the end.

I tried purchasing some silk ribbon for connecting the pages but just couldn’t find anything dark enough to make the fabric and the silk thread. I opted for a satin that was just the right ‘hunter’ green and had everything ready to finish the piece. The only problem was it was December 8th and I was leaving for Ackworth on December 10th. Needless to say with the hustle and bustle of packing and taking care of home and work life before leaving, I did not get a chance to make one stitch. I tried feverishly while attending Ackworth 2008 to work on the book but I still only finished a few pages.

"In the end I did not finish the book in time for Ackworth 2008, nor for Christmas, I had all of the pages lined and stitched with fabric, but not stitched together and with ribbon. I thought I could get it done but just didn't make it.

"On the Sunday after Christmas, and all family and friends were finally gone, I quietly sat in our Morris chair with a lovely Ott lamp overhead and completed the entire book. I stitched all 10 pages together with the ribbon in between, leaving a lovely pocket at the top. Later that evening my husband helped me make a twisted cord which I attached. I used AVAS 3426, a lovely green to stitch the design and DMC 500 to stitched the pages together and make the twisted cord. For the ribbon I used a satin instead of a silk as the satin matched the best. The lining is done with a small flower print, darker green on dark green that I purchased from JoAnn's Fabrics.

"I want to thank the many friends who worked on my Ackworth Friendship Book, Barbara Ahern, Karen Anastos, Linda Connors, Robbin Douglas, Sharon Ducey, Sue Hart, Pat Lally, Elise McKee, Sandy Murray, and Deb Partain. It is wonderful having friends to help support all of my stitching activities and partake in the guild.

"I showed the book to my mother along with the chart and she of course wanted to make the drawstring bag for it. I had enough material left over. She is 78 years old and a wonderful seamstress though illnesses have taken their toll on her. And I hate to ask her. She was delighted to do it for me and insisted the bag needed to be lined. I think she had more fun going to Joann’s Fabric to pick out the lining, then anything else. This is a woman who in her day made her own prom dresses and has made wedding gowns for several of her friends and their daughters. I knew she was capable of doing anything she put her mind to.

"I learned two very important things from this project. One is that I have more friends than I ever thought I did and the other is that when someone says they want to do something let them. It is their way of showing they care. The gift of TIME is very valuable and when someone wants to show their appreciation or love for you, let them. I will cherish this book, not for the design, though it is lovely, but for what it has given me in the way of memories of valued friendships and a gift from my mother.

"I do hope everyone who finished their booklets have submitted them for this blog. And if anyone still needs someone to stitch a page or two please do ask me as I haven’t had the chance to stitch very many of the pages. I did two different pages so far, one for Robbin Douglas and one for Linda Connors and would gladly help someone else finish this lovely book. Maybe you can have it ready for Ackworth 2010! "

Didn't Robbin and Denise do a beautiful job with their books? Denise, your bag fabric is gorgeous! I understand why you love it so!

There will be more books to see in the near future.

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