Antique Junk Drawer

Unfinished Business

In 1982, a woman I worked with named Jackie introduced me to art of cross stitching.  I watched her work on her cross stitch projects during our lunch hour,  how her fingers tenderly and precisely poked the needle through the fabric and how she gently teased the thread through to the other side and then started again.

It was rhythmic the way she worked that needle and almost hypnotizing to watch.  She said she found it relaxing and it was easy to see why.  She inspired me to want to make beautiful cross stitched things too.

I was 22-years-old at the time and had just moved to Texas from the Midwest and didn’t know a lot of people. Consequently, I had more time than friends and I thought that maybe cross stitching would be a good way to absorb some of those long after-work hours that I spent alone as well as satisfy the itch to do something creative.

I went to a craft store and picked out a cross stitch kit with a butterfly motif.  As I handed over the few dollars I had to the cashier, I fully believed with all my heart that like Jackie, I would finish it in a week or two.

As I walked out of the store with my new cross stitch kit, I was already envisioning the glory of the finished product and experiencing the glow of satisfaction I would feel as I gave it to my mother for Christmas.  She would be delighted and awe struck that I had created such finery for $3.99.

I worked on it faithfully every day for a few weeks, tediously stitching and un-stitching the rainbow of thread into butterflies.  Then one day, I decided to take a short break and set it aside.  It was another year or so before I picked it up again.  That was 1984.  I haven’t touched it since.


Every once in a while, as I’m looking for something, I’ll find it tucked into a box of odd things that fail categorization.  I suppose I could feel badly that it has remained unfinished all these years, but for me there was tremendous value in the doing, if not the finishing.   And besides, we will all leave this life with unfinished business.  None of us will finish all we set out to do.

I just hope that when I leave this world, that any unfinished business I leave behind is no more consequential than butterflies.

* * *

Anyone else have an aging and unfinished project tucked away somewhere? Anything older than my 25-year-old butterflies?

59 thoughts on “Unfinished Business

  1. My unfinished project is not quite as old as yours. It is nearly 20 years old. When I was expecting my oldest son, a single co-worker offered to make a cross stitched afghan for me. She had more time than money but still wanted to give me something for a baby gift. I bought the afghan and the floss. She worked on it for a few months. She was offered a more important job in another department. Meanwhile, my son was born. One day she called and apologized that the gift was not finished. She gave it back to me. It was nearly done and it was so beautiful. She did such a great job on it. And I planned to get the rest finished in no time. Days, weeks, months and years passed. Six years later when I was pregnant with my second son, I got the project out and worked on it awhile. Then of course when the baby came I forgot about it again. Like you I find it from time to time, and think someday I will get to it. My oldest son is 19 and my youngest son is 13. Maybe someday before I have a grandchild the project will get done. But if not, it has happy memories for me anyway.

    * * *
    I laughed when I got to the part about the second baby! That afghan and the story that goes with it will make a great gift for a grandbaby someday ~ AM

  2. I have an unfinished project about the same age as yours: a clock kit with a cross-stitched background. I can’t remember exactly when I started it– somewhere in the neighborhood of when my 26-year-old was a toddler! I got done all the little garden herbs with their names, but I got hung up doing the numbers for the actual clock face. So there the kit sits, up in the cabinet– the wooden frame pieces, the mechanism, the little clock hands, and the unfinished cross-stitching– sitting there so long it feels like part of the furnishings. It’s kinda sad, really, because I was so in love with that clock and knew just where in my kitchen I wanted to hang it. But I didn’t finish it (probably because three more children came along) and we have lived in a completely different house for 21 years now!

  3. Oh my! I just pitched out a bag of afghan pieces that I knitted for my daughter’s 5th Christmas. It was never assembled. I also need to confess that she just recently had her 42nd birthday.

    That’s procrastination and serious pack-ratting.

    * * *
    I laughed out loud when I read that your daughter is 42! I think your unfinished afghan beats my unfinished cross stitch! ~ AM

  4. I have more than one. A beautiful crewel embrodiary alphabet sampler. I started when I pregnant with my twins, (they are 24 yrs old now). Large enough for a twin bed headboard (the original idea). It is almost finished but I never took the tape off the edges. And I took a stained glass class. The peices of glass are in a box cut out and that’s where I left them. Both projects are over 20 yrs old.

    Oh, and last year I bought cross stitch baby quilts (for each grand child)and they are in their bags, never opened. Now, in August we will have our seventh grandchild. I may need to donate those quilt projects!


  5. Just recently I thought about the crewel embrodiery picture I started over 25 years ago and want to finish to give to my mother.

    How about organizing pictures? Anyone besides me have that on a “someday” list?

  6. I don’t have any that are older than yours, but at the rate I’m going they all will be in another 10-15 years. I have quilts, hand painted baby books, and more, all unfinished and in the ‘hope to get to it someday’ pile. It is good to know though that it’s okay. Sometimes I feel so pulled by those projects and wanting to devote time to them. It’s a good reminder to know that they are not the really important things.

  7. This doesn’t beat yours, but I smocked some of the cutest little cows and John Deere tractors on an outfit for my toddler son. I just never got it completely finished before he outgrew it.

    He’s 12 now.

    I’ve kept it because I kept thinking I would have another boy.

  8. I’m still hoping to finish a crocheted sweater I started for a friend’s daughter nearly 2 years ago. I stopped when I broke my right thumb, and every time I pick it up, I can only do about a row before the pain in my right hand flares up. I’d love to finish that project, but at this rate, it’ll be years!

    I used to crochet, cross stitch, embroider, tat and sew, and I haven’t been able to do any of that because of my thumb. I’ve finished hundreds of projects, and given handmade gifts to many of my friends and family, and I miss that so much.

  9. Well, let’s see. There’s the beautiful white (now yellowing) crocheted baby sweater for my friend Louise’s daughter Denise, who is now 38. I finished the yoke and body, but never could quite figure out the edging, so . . .! And then there’s the “Make a Different Square Each Week” sampler quilt, with one square cut out, which was abandoned when my husband got sick and I became a quilting-school dropout. But it’s only about 12 years old, and I fully intent to finish it – someday! I could go on, but I think instead I should go dig out that quilt project! Really, I should!

  10. I could probably come up with something about as old as your butterflies, but it’s probably safely buried in a box in the garage. The project that comes immediately to mind though is a small watercolor of a bunch of grapes.

    Several years ago (pre-kids) I decided to take a watercolor class at a local college. I can’t paint. Or draw. My primary creativity has usually come through words, but at that time in my life, the words wouldn’t come, but the ‘art’ wanted out. I also liked the idea of getting over my ‘quirk’ of not undertaking anything that I’m not fairly confident I’ll succeed at.

    And, as expected, I wasn’t entirely successful (one of my first assignments was a painting of an orange; when I showed it to DH and asked what he thought, he remarked that it was a really good peach).

    The grapes were the only thing I tried to do beyond the class projects. Every once in a while I come across it, still taped to the cutting board I used to keep the paper from curling. Maybe someday…

  11. well mine isnt quite as old but I have a shirt that I started cross stitching while I was going thru RUSH @ the Univ of AR….I am about 3/4 finished as of Pref nite that year….but we got BIDS and all was over for that poor shirt…I couldnt wear it now and cover 1/2 my chest….LMAO

    and BTW Smockity…if you want to sell that John Deere outfit…i would love to find something lik that for my 3 mo old

  12. Before I was married I did cross – stitch and even finished a few items.

    When my first daughter was born I finished one project for her room.

    I started another project when my 2nd baby was due – she is now 9, and I have a 4 year old, and it is still unfinished.

    I am hoping my kids want to do cross-stitch and maybe they can finish them for me!

  13. Oh, my. I have lots of little unfinished projects. The pieces to a sweater I made for my daughter, waiting only to be put together. It’s been waiting for 3 years. I have a toothbrush rug that I started 4 years ago that is only slightly bigger than a dinner plate, now. And, some 25 year-old cross stitch pieces.

    Thank you. You’ve made it seem not quit so bad.

  14. I’ve gotcha beat girl! I started mine soon after I was married in 1979. A crocheted afghan in beautiful shades of mauve using the granny square pattern. I’m not sure I can still even crochet it’s been so long since I worked on it. That unfinished bit of business has to be almost 30 and you and I are the same age!

  15. When my oldest son was born, a family friend cross stitched a beautiful birth announcement type thing for him and had it framed. Nobody did that for my second, so I started one. It was a very complicated pattern, and about 3/4 of the way through, I goofed. I could never seem to straighten it out, and I sure wasn’t going to start over. So there it sits, unfinished for 11 years.

    My Mom has cross stitched so many things it’s unbelievable. She found it relaxing too. I really find it tedious and boring. I haven’t attempted to stitch anything since then.

  16. I can’t say that I have anything that old personally. I tend to finish cross stitch projects usually – because they’re always gifts for someone else. Stitching on a time table has usually done it for me. That said, I haven’t done a cross stitch project since 2002 when I gloriously burned out in 2 months on a huge wedding gift. I’m in search of something for MYSELF now.

    My mom had a drawer full of her own unfinished projects – and her mom’s unfinished projects. Grandma died in 1989, and had a drawer of her own :-). Mom has been finishing up things during her retirement and recently showed me something that her mom had started and she was finishing. I think it’s sweet that she is finishing them up.

  17. I have nothing that old (mainly since I’m not that old yet. only 22). But I have a throw blanket that I started crocheting in October thinking it would be a good winter project. Not even a 1/4 finished. And then there was my mother and I deciding to learn quilting last year. I have everything I need. Haven’t even started to try yet.

  18. I’ve got more unfinished sewing projects than I care to admit to….. The lesson for me is that the glorious vision of the finished project spurs me on for a time, but something more pressing (motherhood in general) comes along and teases me away. Weeks and months later I realize that the time spent with my family is always more satisfying that the “whatever” I’d have created. Most of the “things” we want were not needed, are easily forgotten, and barely missed. Who can say that about time spent with people, especially those closest to us?

  19. None older than yours – but 4 years ago my family took a mission’s trip together and I started a scrapbook of our trip when we got home. I have not picked it up since that summer and by now I have forgotten the details I wanted to scrapbook about. Oh well – the 5 or so pages I did get finished look mighty good!

  20. My mom just emailed and said she’s got some of those unfinished needlework projects that she’s going to finish when she’s older – she’s 75. She says she’s too busy right now. I love that.

  21. I started a Santa’s ark Christmas cross stitch for my brother who loves/loved boats…when he was married to his first wife. He has been married to wife #3 for over 10 years now and lives out in the country and doesn’t sail anymore.

    My mother crocheted a bedspread when she was pregnant with me and started a tablecloth. She never crocheted another stitch on that tablecloth after I was born…and I am 53. She always “blamed” me for not finishing the tablecloth…but I really wonder what her excuse was the last 40 years. The truth is, she went on to other things. She did crochet a beautiful evening gown for me when I was in high school! I was SO COOL in that crocheted dress!

    * * *
    I would love to see a picture of that crocheted gown! ~AM

  22. I have a little size two nightgown cut out and pinned and ready to sew for my daughter who is now 10. Does that count?

  23. Let’s see, which unfinished project is the oldest?

    I think the winner is a very large Oriental themed counted cross stitch I started in 1979. Now yellowing in a large tub of unfinished projects in our basement.

    It has a lot of company with an unfinished cross stitch baby bib (my friends daughter will be 18 this year), a huge cross stitch tree skirt purchased in 1994 with old fashioned Santas on it, and numerous other smaller cross stitch projects.

    The good news is all of my DMC floss is being used by my two daughters to make friendship bracelets!

  24. I have a bin full of half-knit scarves and sewing projects in various states of completion. I also have a variety of home projects on my to-do list (things like repainting all my ceilings). I certainly won’t regret it if these trivial things remain undone.

  25. I started a little cross stitch thing for my daughter during a very trying time in our lives and when it got tricky, I stopped working on it. She was 6 at the time. Now she’s 14. It would have looked so cute in her room…but not now with her lime green teen thing going on. So it still sits. Those kitties are a zillion different colors and I just get freaked out at that part.

    I do want it finished though. Whether by me or someone else. lol

  26. One son and One daughter (in-law). Beautiful unfinished projects! I can’t wait to see what they choose.

    I had a cross stitch dresser scarf. One side I did as a kid and one side as an adult. The difference! the colors!

    I do have one popcorn angel afghan I somehow missed her neck. She is unfinished. I have to do that horrible 3 letter word….r i p. Then I can finish her. My present afghan is a ripple I had abandoned. Grew bored. Now I have a little over a month if it is going to the wedding as a present!

  27. I finally threw out my cross stitch items that have been sitting in my closet for the better part of 15 years. When I was spring cleaning a few weeks ago I had made my mind up that if I hadn’t looked at or worn or done anything with it in the past 6 months to the trash pile it went. It either became Goodwill stack or the trash stack. And both were pretty big!

  28. There is not space enough here to list all of the unfinished projects around my house. Some are craft projects. Others are not. I have been so ridiculous as to take in other people’s unfinished projects because I just knew I would get around to finishing them before they would.

  29. I have an unfinished Christmas cross stitch pillow. I started it the year we got married and all but one corner is finished. It is still in the back of the coat closet where I put it after I missed my Christmas 1993 deadline!

  30. My great-great grandmother started a quilt in the 1930s, made from fabric of her dresses. She was hand piecing and hand quilting it. Five generations later, in 2008, I finished the quilt..hand quilting where the previous generation had stopped. My 94-year-old grandmother swooped in and helped me put the edge on it. Unfinished…to finished and it only took 70+ years.

    * * *
    I love that story ~ I can just see you and your 94-year-old grandmother finishing the edges of that quilt! ~AM

  31. I have a quilt started for my daughter, who is now 35, and I don’t know where it is even if I wanted to finish it. Being the pack rat I am, I’m sure I didn’t throw it away. I think I started it in the 1980’s. The color theme was the rose and blue so I think it’s at least that old. I also have a cross-stitch of southern flowers that is about 15 or 20 years old. I do know where this is and come across it occasionally when looking in that little trunk. I’m hoping, like you, that those are the least of my unfinished projects when I die!

  32. Each of these delayed projects seems to have a special story. I once found a partially done quilt top made for a bride-to-be by her girlfriends. Each friend did one block for the quilt giving the date, her name and embroidering a design. The quilt top was never finished and no quilt completed. The dates on the blocks were all from back in the 1940’s. Was the top given to the bride-to-be? Why was it unfinished? Interesting? Marviv

  33. In the early eighties my husband bought me my first knitting machine. It was a wonderful creative outlet for me and I actually started my own little business designing and selling knitwear.

    This weekend I cleaned out years of unfinished business from my third floor studio. I just let it go and didn’t feel an ounce of regret. It sat there for 15 years calling my name, begging me to create something. By Sunday afternoon I had a fresh clean room, ready for new ideas.

    I knit mittens instead of sweaters now and I don’t have so many unfinished projects.

    * * *

    A knitting machine!? I’ve never heard of such a thing! It sounds like “cheating” but why not if there are sewing machines! 🙂

    Yes, sometimes it is liberating to concede — to let it go and open up space for new ideas and adventures. ~AM

  34. My sister-in-law tried to teach me cross-stitch when I was a sophomore in high school. I am extremely “craft-impaired” so it didn’t go well, and I never finished it. That was in 1978…..

  35. My husband bought me a cross-stitch kit for our first married Christmas, at my request. That was 12 years ago. I can’t tell you how many holidays I’ve taken it on. It’s bigger than your butterflies, but I’ve done less of it. One day…

  36. I, like Jackie, am an avid cross stitcher. My cousin’s ex-wife taught me when I was in high school and I’ve been at it ever since. I took a break when my babies came along because really,that flashy needle and pretty thread is just too much for little baby fingers to resist. So no cross stitchign with any sort of regularity for me these last few years. But now they’re old enough to not be interested in eating my project and I can pull tehm back out. And, wow! There are a lot of UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in my stitching box! But that doesn’t keep me from starting new ones! I have a lot that ahs been finished over the years. And a fair amount that still needs my attention. Who knows if they’ll ever get finished!

  37. This is not so much a comment about unfinished projects as it is about things tucked away in a drawer. When my mother-in-law and father-in-law passed away, we had the task of going through their things and getting the house ready to sell. I can’t tell you how many things I came accros in a drawer that I knew must have meant something to them, but had absolutely no meaning to my husband or myself. It was hard to part with them, knowing that they must have been special to them at one time, but what were we to do with all of that stuff! From that moment on I made it my goal not to hide things away in drawers. If something is worth keeping, it’s worth displaying. If it’s broken, it’s either worth fixing or it needs to be thrown away. I don’t keep birthday cards or anniversary cards stashed in a drawer somewhere… I’ve taken some of the most special cards my husband has given me, framed them, and displayed them on my bedroom walls. My children’s art work, I’ve scanned and put into digital scap books for them and their children to enjoy. My drawers are empty and my ‘special’ things are on display for all to enjoy.

  38. Hmmm, does volume count if not age?

    A couple years ago, my sons constantly teased me about the sheer number of undealt-with photos there must be on my hard drive, while I continued to insist it couldn’t be that many. I mean, com’on, digital cameras hadn’t been around that long.

    So one day they got onto my computer & did a .jpg search to find out the truth.

    Um…yeah…there were more than 30,000.

    Of course, my dearly beloved husband chimed in to say that if I spent just 5 seconds with each photo (which they all knew for me was a complete & utter impossibility) it would take me approx 42 hours to get through them all just once.

    No, I still haven’t dealt with them.

    And yes, I have continued to shoot & save an inordinate amount of photos.

    It’s a sickness from which I will probably never recover.

  39. About 15 years ago I started a Christmas poinsettia pattern on the corner of a beautiful cranberry color afghan. It’s probably three-quarters finished and for some reason remains that way.
    I decided to not just hide it away; instead it hangs (year round) over the back of a small antique chair that belonged to my maternal grandparents. I like the way it looks there, and it’s not obvious that the design stitching is not completed.
    Mostly I do smaller projects such as kitchen towels and baby bibs as shower gifts. I say stitching is my therapy (relaxing) and keeps my hands from being idle while I watch (listen to, really) tv news in the evening.

  40. Tell Deb to try Google’s Picasa. It’s free, and it will organize all of your photos for you (by date, etc.). You can also create your own albums, and you can have one photo exist in more than one album (pictures of the kids on vacation can be in the album for that vacation, and also in their own album that I created for each child). The software will even search and find all of the photos on your computer. It found photos I didn’t even know I had!

  41. I call these projects “phantoms,” and personally, I have to get rid of them. My high need for closure and accomplishment does not allow me to keep them in the house — otherwise — they haunt me. “Lisa…you loooooooser…you never finished ____, did yoooouuuuuuuu?”

  42. Mine is only about 9 years old. My poor boy only has a “baby box”, no baby book. The books and all that should go into them are in….a box. I waited so long for this boy, I just wanted to spend all my time with him or getting other things done so I could be with him. I still feel that way, so I guess he may always have a “baby box”.

  43. I don’t have any unfinished business older than the butterflies, but I do have an unfinished cross-stitch teddy bear stocking. Somewhere. I always find it when I’m least expecting it and even though I never finished, it always brings a smile to my face.

  44. I come from a hand-stitching family, and I decided that I wanted to quilt. So, I picked a lovely pattern. . .Grandmother’s Flower Garden. . .which turned out to be VERY difficult. Never the less, I carefully cut 100’s of little octagons and hand stitched probably 20 “flowers” then put it away for another time. Fast forward 12 years. . .I knew I would never get it done–ever–but I found out about a quilter’s guild in Houston that made quilts for preemie and abandoned babies at the various hospitals in our area. I contacted the president of the guild, picked out a few of my favorite flowers, and sent the rest on to her. She e-mailed me later saying that her group had swooped down on those “flower pieces” and used them to make many, many baby quilts.

    Sometimes somebody else had to finish the work. . .but it still gets done, and even though I don’t have a beautiful bed-sized quilt, I’m sure glad that lots of babies got one instead.

  45. In college I started a Precious Moments wedding cross titch for the one day when I got married. Well, it was about half-finished when I met him and now it is not quite my style. I can’t just throw it out! What to do with it? Is there a market out there for half-finished cross stitch? Are there cross stitch closers for hire? I love you blog and am grateful you share your gift for writing!

  46. What a crack-up that there are so many of us in the same boat!

    My project is about 24 years old. When I was pregnant with my first I was put on bedrest for two and a half months- on my left side. I had a little crewel embroidery project I worked on, although it was so uncomfortable being on my side.

    That unfinished project turns up at the oddest times! I used to feel so guilty about it, but after reading this I’ve decided to consider it a treasure and enjoy it for the memories it brings. I think I’ll pass it on to my daughter who is now pregnant with her first!

  47. This post and the comments are making me feel good about my own unfinished project. 🙂 It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

    I have always wanted to learn to quilt. When I was pregnant with my first son I took a class and started a baby size quilt for him. I don’t know how to sew with a machine so it’s all being done by hand. It’s all pieced together and I started the quilting but that’s where it stalled.

    I took it out again when I was pregnant with the second son and worked on it…but still not done. I haven’t even taken it out this time (I’m expecting #3) but maybe I should.

    My joke is that I’m going to finish it in time to send it off to college with son number one. And I want to see pictures of the cute little bugs and flowers on his dorm room bed. 🙂

  48. I have a few projects laying around, like an afghan that is currently a very large scarf which I started crocheting at least 7 years ago.

    But what I think of most is the craft magazine I thumbed through the other day and wanted to quit working so I could just craft all day. So many things that would be fun to do if I had the time!

  49. 30+ years ago, married to my first husband,since deceased, I sat with him and the family watching football, football, football – I do not like football, so my m-i-l taught me how to crochet….you now, the square(s)that you just keep making bigger and bigger and bigger?

    Still in a box in the attic – I don’t even remember how to crochet anymore – and it is not quite large enough to lie under. Plus, the stitching is so loose, it would hardly keep a body warm anmore.

    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

  50. I have a 27-year old project that’s unfinished! I was pregnant, my labor pains had begun, went to the doctor who told me to take my time checking into the hospital because it was my first baby and first babies oftentime take their sweet time! So we make a couple of stops before the hospital, first to BurgerKing where I watched Hubby have a Whopper and then onto the needlework shop where I almost gave the shopkeeper a heart attack when I had a contraction! I bought a cute crewel embroidery picture that I thought I would one day get to use for my baby. It’s still not finished yet. I out to get it out and finish it for my daughter. Maybe one day soon she’ll have a baby and get to use it.

  51. I have nothing as old as yours, but I do have many many unfinished projects. The most important one, our baby’s birth sampler. I started it, and hated it! Oh my. I have since given up completely and it is stashed (who knows where!) and my mom is now currently working on one for us. Mom and I are both cross-stitchers, like your friend. We do simple, we do elaborate, we even do joint projects (we live many states away). It is fun, but it’s also very frustrating sometimes.

    I look at your photography and see my stitching. I can’t take the amazing photos that you can. I think each of us has something. Many don’t realize that what they do is that ‘something’. Writing, photography, organizing, painting, stitching, quilting, etc. We just need to do what makes us happy – but it is fun to try new things as you never know what you might find new and exciting!

    Cheers, great post!


  52. I have a blanket that I started crocheting in 1997 when my boyfriend (now my husband) graduated and moved to a new state. It’s half finished…I really should get back to work on that!

  53. I didn’t think I had anything—-but I have a beautiful alphabet sampler done in pastels. It’s got cute little blocks and a teddy bear. Unfortunately the baby didn’t live so the sampler is missing the personal information. I could have put his name and birthday on it—but it was too hard to face……….

    I don’t know if I could give it to someone else—maybe a grandchild. Do you think the kids would find the story to disturbing and not want to put the sampler on the wall.

    Every now and then I see it in the attic and remember the boy who grew up in heaven.

    * * *
    That breaks my heart. I’m so sorry for your loss. Everyone grieves differently. I would want to put it in a box and pull it out from time to time, but I know others who would want to frame it and draw comfort from seeing it every day. Ultimately you just have to listen to your heart and do what feels good. ~AM

  54. Well, not quite as old, but kind of sad. I love cross stitch and used to finish projects up until I had 3 children. Then the kids kept coming and I set the cross stitch aside. In 1996 I was working on a beautiful, detailed cross stitch of a cottage in a country garden for my mom who has an amazing green thumb. It was a secret! We had a sometimes rocky relationship and I knew she would love it and appreciate how much time I had spent on it. Well, I was 3/4 of the way through the project when she was diagnosed with cancer and died 3 weeks later. I was really sad I didn’t get to give it to her. Now that my kids are older I am teaching my two girls cross stitch and embroidery and we sit around and stitch and visit on summer evenings. Hopefully our relationships won’t be troubled. Even the boys will join us and do those looms that make hats and scarves. (They call it crotch-eting so as to be tough I guess.) I got out my mom’s project and turned the saying into memorial info for her. I guess I will give it to my daughter who was born 2 years after my mom died and is named after her.

  55. I, too, have an “unfinished” needlework project–MANY unfinished needlework projects, in fact! But the story that makes me laugh–and cringe–the most began when I was about 10 years old. My Croatian maternal grandmother embroidered and tatted beautifully, and was known for giving away lovely embroidered pillowcases. I admired this talent, and wanted to learn–so she taught me the basics, and I was up and running. Now, we didn’t live near my grandparents, but at the time there was an elderly widower who lived next door to us and became a sort of surrogate grandfather to us kids. My mom loved to bake and we frequently ran next door with a plate of goodies to share with him. Initially, I was shy with him because he had suffered from cancer years before and had no larynx; he rarely spoke, but when he did it was a throaty whisper through the fabric-covered hole in his neck. While the “voice” was somewhat scary, it was always accompanied by a sweet, tender smile that always expressed his gratitude for goodies, the company of neighbors, and the antics of “surrogate” children. Well, I decided that I wanted my first embroidery project to be a pair of pillowcases for “Grandpa B” and I painstakingly picked out just the right pair. My best description of the pattern was that it was a “hillbilly” husband and wife, with the husband one one case, asking “How about tonight, Ma?” and the wife responding on the other case “Shucks NO, Pa!” What did I know at the age of 10 about picking appropriate pillowcases patterns?!? Anyway, the punchline is that I’ve always had a challenge in finishing projects, and unfortunately, “Grandpa B” died before I ever finished embroidering the pillowcases… Maybe that was a blessing. If you know what I mean.

  56. My great-grandmother started a quilt when she got married using flour sacks pieces that she couldn’t use for dresses, then tucked it away when her babies (12) came. My grandmother tried to complete it but then her babies (6) came. My mother tried to finish but babies and military moves prevented her from doing much more to it. A few years ago we came across it, but with my babies (4) I just haven’t had time. Perhaps, someday it will be done.

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