October 29, 2019

The modest, gentle art of finishing the needlework of others.


Via "‘I had to buy it and finish it’: Why 1,000 people offered to crowd-stitch the quilt of a dead woman none of them knew" (WaPo).
Shannon Downey... said it’s a personal code she lives by, and hopes that when she dies, someone will collect any of her unfinished crafting projects and complete them....

“I am a crafter who finishes projects,” Downey said. “I live with this bizarre fear I’ll leave behind a project and be in project purgatory forever.”...

"I did not expect this response,” she said. “Folks are totally willing to throw down and finish things."

27 comments:

rhhardin said...

Ghost Town (2008) has a similar nice point.

Rooke said...

I love this--earnest and productive, communal and individual. Hurray!

daskol said...

Spielberg tried that with Kubrick's AI. It is a Spielbergian Kubrick or a Kubrickian Spielberg? I think this question more than the modest, gentle success of the film preserves its legacy.

Earnest Prole said...

It’s a form of obsessive-compulsive behavior, much like that of an accountant who told me if his numbers don’t balance he has no choice but to spend the entire night if necessary reconciling them.

Wince said...

"Come on, everybody, we got quilting to do!"

Mr. Majestyk said...

Okay, that's weird.

Amy said...

I have a designated family member who has agreed to finish several projects if I pass away. (Wedding sampler that needs names/dates filled in, Christmas stocking for baby to come). It is a relief to me to know that a plan is in place. And I am not OCD at all. This is just a huge amount of work put in and only needs the finishing elements, which cannot be added yet.

mockturtle said...

The problem with needlework is what to do with the products. For years in the early 90's I did a lot of needlework and other similar crafts and I'm sure my family got a little weary of gifts involving needlepoint pillows, hooked rugs and cross-stitch wall hangings. My grandchildren still value their needlepoint Christmas stockings, though. And their hand-stitched quilts.

Fernandinande said...

There is no end to needlework. It is not that you set up your materials, choose a canvas and mounting materials, bind the edges of your canvas with masking tape, mount the canvas in a frame to hold it taut while you work, thread a needle with an 18 in (46 cm) length of embroidery floss, secure the thread to the canvas with a waste knot, use the continental stitch to provide more coverage over an area and finish with needlework. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of needlework.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I don't buy unfinished projects....have enough of my own WIPs nagging at me.

However, I have a very hard time emotionally when I see a beautiful and lovingly hand made quilt in the thrift store. Sometimes I will buy the quilt but most often I feel both sad and happy.

Happy that someone else had the artistic eye and skill to make something so lovely out of pieces and scraps of fabric. Sad in that all that work and thoughtfulness has just been tossed away.

I wonder about and often think about the woman (sometimes it is women, children and even the man but mostly a woman) who contributed to the quilt.

What was she thinking at the time she planned and assembled the quilt?
Where did the fabric come from?
Old clothing from the 1930's?
Groovy fabrics from the 1960's?
What was her life like during those times.
HOW can her family just give something that took hours up hours to make?
Did she die alone and forgotten?

Well.... she, whoever she is, isn't forgotten as we sleep every night under a beautiful warm cozy quilt that was hand made by some other woman and ponder a bit about her life and about mine too.

Jeff Gee said...

I thought it said "Shannon Doherty" and it upset the whole paradigm.

Wilbur said...

Well, she's right about one thing: her fear is bizarre.

Badass Cross Stitch Downey? If I cared, I'd find out why she chose such a moniker. Maybe, just maybe, to draw attention to herself?

tcrosse said...

Some women confine themselves to finishing other peoples sentences for them.

michaele said...

Sweet story. I have a 98 year old mother-in-law who always has a couple of nice sized Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls in different stages of being finished. She'd always been a quilter and changed over to making the dolls about 10 years ago when she moved into assisted living. She makes up different theme outfits like a soldier, a nurse, a bride, a groom etc. and gives them away. Even though it seems like she is going to outlive us all, I guess one of us in the family should take responsibility for finishing up whatever is left to do when she passes on.

traditionalguy said...

Very impressive.Many people have personalities that love a challenge of doing very detailed work that creates something that all can see. Remember the Ships in a Bottle guys? And these amazing ladies make useful stuff too.Betsy Ross one of them. And her Flag is still a best seller.

Krumhorn said...

When she has a moment, I have a basement that needs attention.

- Krumhorn

Fernandinande said...

Labor Rates
$50 minimum charge
$100 if you watch us
$150 if you "help" us
$200 if you worked on it first

Ken B said...

A small protest against the nihilism of popular culture.

madAsHell said...

Make America Quilt Again!!

JohnAnnArbor said...

Michigan's Upper Peninsula would like to have a word with her.

Christy said...

Mama and three of her sisters got together every Thursday for years to quilt. Every family reunion the grandkids who had just graduated high school received a quilt. And every reunion and Christmas a quilt was raffled off to help pay the costs of the event. BTW the final quilting was usually done by a retired Air Force Master Sergeant uncle.

About the time all of the grandkids had graduated, Mom declared that she was going to make a first ever quilt for herself. She made the blocks and was at the point of putting the them together when her dementia made finishing it impossible. She passed before she ever managed a quilt for herself. It sits in a box under my sewing machine and fishing it feels futile.

Deb said...

I have a favorite t-shirt: "Yes I can sew. No I won't hem your pants."

Deb said...

I have a favorite t-shirt: "Yes I can sew. No I won't hem your pants."

victoria said...

Stunning. Beautiful. The way things should be done.


Vicki from Pasadena

MadisonMan said...

She should consider the possibility that some things are deliberately left unfinished. The person for whom it is being made is revealed to be a monster. Why would you want to finish it?

Nichevo said...

She made the blocks and was at the point of putting the them together when her dementia made finishing it impossible. She passed before she ever managed a quilt for herself. It sits in a box under my sewing machine and fishing it feels futile.


I'm so sorry, my dear. May her memory be for a blessing.

If you finish it, destiny will take a hand.

Christy said...

Nichevo, thank you. I like that approach.