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Embroidery is a priceless family tradition

By Staff | Aug 6, 2010

They reside in a very large basket-whose wardrobe is in tones of mahogany brown, copper, and a russet which could almost be called pumpkin. Large full blossoms of burgundy roses spill from the plump basket shell, Shasta daisies, and purple little flowers-all rich in color and delicacy as they congregate on the artist’s canvas. On top of the basket is a winding blue ribbon exemplifying the contrast between the sky blue thread and deep navy thread. Murmuring tones of green create leaves which connect to the array of petals. They share a common characteristic-they all began as DMC thread, and now they have been stitched into a needle workers delight.

My wife, Jan, recently entered this cross stitch picture at the North Dakota State Fair and received a blue ribbon on her embellishment endeavors. It is a notable size, at least 20 x 20, and will soon take its place in a chorus of other stitched old-fashioned masterpieces we have displayed in our home.

Displayed on our living room wall are the embroideries of the four seasons, with the spring tree being adorned with the finest pink French knots, embroidered by Jan’s grandmother, Lydia Johnson.. In our bedroom is a stitched Corinthians 13: 4-7 done by Jan’s mother, Delores, for our wedding featuring a cross- stitched butterfly as well as a pair of wedding bell pillowcases featuring outline stitching that was done by my mother. In our dining room there is a Christmas seaport scene featuring little blue birds gathering was given to Jan by her great-grandmother, Ida, from Denmark. Each stitched art piece links us to our heritage, and each has different characteristics that set it apart from the others-just like the unique personalities of the creators of the pieces.

For men, women, and children of all ages, embroidery offers a complete change of pace. It gives one the chance to select a design-whether a flower on a dishtowel or scenic picture. As one hoops the fabric and begins to stitch, the chant of drawn thread with fabric is soothing like the cooing of a morning dove. As the threaded silver needle begins its rhythm, the crafter becomes creative, finds relaxation, and much satisfaction. I have been blessed to be around a host of women who have enjoyed the art of embroidery. These ladies understand that spending their leisure time with embroidery offers much satisfaction. They also know that as these heirlooms are passed down, generations to come will treasure them as well.

Last week, Miss Lydia began to embroider. When she saw her Mama’s picture at the state fair, her words were, “I want to learn to do that!”

Jan shared it was certainly precious as she took Lydia downtown to Holly’s Stitches and Crafts for her to select her own thread from the cases of DMC thread. If you have not taken the time to pull open an embroidery showcase of thread in a shop, you’re missing out. The flow of colors is revealed from water greens, to rich teals, and sitting below them is every shade of purple just waiting for your endowment.

Naturally, the little eyes of Lydia noticed the letters DMC on each skein of thread. She, of course, wondered what these letters represent. It is interesting to note that DMC stands for Dollfus-Mieg and Company found in Mulhouse, France. They became a leading producer of cotton fabrics during its first hundred years. The mid-1800’s brought its expansion into the area of sewing threads as well as crochet, darning, and embroidery cottons. From the beginning of this century, embroiderers, lace makers, crocheters and other needle workers have recognized the DMC brand name as being synonymous with superior quality thread products.

Jan is blessed with the fact that she can embroider in the car, and she does! (However, a favorite place to embroider is aboard Amtrak!) We have shared some wonderful conversation as she stitches the miles away. She tested my interest in her embroidery early on in our dating. At that time, I had a collection of pig motifs in my kitchen. Her Christmas gift to me was a set of hand-embroidered pig dish towels! Genuine was my thrill as I removed them from the box. The towels feature a variety of her embroidery stitches. While I was getting acquainted with the fine work she did on her satin stitching on a cluster of purple grapes in the little pig’s cart, I thought to myself “I think this is going to be a wonderful relationship!”

For their first project, Mama and Lydia have selected from an ample supply of Aunt Martha’s hot iron transfers a crossed stitched apple on a dish towel. I know that over the years these two will share many a thought, and solve many a concern as Lydia develops an assortment of decorative and functional stitches. I watch her little fingers work the six strands of thread as she nestles near Jan-once again I am reminded that embroidery is a priceless tradition.

I share with you a delicious bar recipe that Jan and Lydia made last week when taking a break from their embroidery.

Repnow is a Rugby


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