Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pretty or Petty, or Pretty Petty?

The Bag Lady was such a good interview subject that I thought she ought to do a guest post. I was thrilled when she agreed to fill The Goat’s Lunch Pail. The goat’s happy, too.

So, without further ado, here she is:

Having been kindly asked to contribute to Leah’s blog has caused the Bag Lady all kinds of consternation. What to say? The Bag Lady knows nothing of writing or hypnosis and doesn’t even know what metaphysics means. She does, however, have a dog, and is well aware of what it won’t eat (she is all too aware of what it WILL eat, too, but promises not to share that with you!) So here goes.

The Bag Lady was recently invited to a baby shower for one of the neighbours. She is not particularly close to this new mother, but doesn’t have much of a social life, so she went.

Now, for most of her adult life, any time the Bag Lady’s friends and acquaintances have given birth, she has made them a baby quilt. The Bag Lady loves to sew, and has always felt that a home-made gift was a sign that some thought and effort went into said gift. Also some expense, as anyone who sews on a regular basis knows!

This particular neighbour and, in fact, most of the other guests, are somewhat younger than the Bag Lady, but only by 10 or 15 years (not much, says the Bag Lady) putting them in their late 20s, early 30s.
So when the new mother opened the Bag Lady’s gift, the Bag Lady was hoping for much oohing and awing, as this particular quilt is what is called a bubble quilt, which involves an incredible amount of work, and a lot of time. In fact, the Bag Lady (having not much of a social life and a lot of time on her hands) sewed most of it by hand with a needle and thread as opposed to using a sewing machine. She also personalized the quilt with the child’s initials.

So imagine her disappointment when the new mother’s response was rather tepid. She asked the Bag Lady if the quilt was made from a kit…

Needless to say, the Bag Lady, loath to explain the amount of time and effort that went into the quilt, briefly explained that, no, it was all hand-made – each square was cut out, sewn together, stuffed, then sewn together with the other squares.

The Bag Lady doesn’t want any misunderstandings here; she is only bringing this subject up because she wonders if the new mother’s response was a result of her personal feelings for the Bag Lady, or if she is truly ignorant about sewing.

Doesn’t anyone sew anymore? Is a homemade gift to be denigrated? Do all new mothers want “store-bought” for their children? Is a mass-produced toy or an outfit that every other child is wearing more desirable than a one-of-a-kind, personalized gift? Or is the Bag Lady just lonely, petty, and out of touch with the real world?


Virginia Lee said...

I think it's lovely, Bag Lady. Of course, my grandmother and mother both taught me about handsewing and machine sewing and my great-grandmothers both made glorious handmade quilts, though nothing like your bubble quilt.

You seem to be a quite rational and straightforward person from what I can tell and as you're kin to Leah you're probably just as lovely as she. I daresay the problem is with the recipient of the quilt and her obvious ignorance of what goes into making a quilt from scratch.

Shrug it off, as they say, and move onward. And perhaps the next time you present such a gift you might include a tag that is good for a lesson or two in sewing or quiltmaking. Once you teach people how much work their quilt or whatever took to create, they'll more than likely end up being a whole lot more grateful and nice about things.

Leah J. Utas said...

Virginia Lee - I think you're right about the recipient's ignorance.
Thanks for the compliment and, yes, The Bag Lady is rational and straightforward.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the compliments, both of you! I like to think I have rational moments...
My mother was an extraordinary seamstress, and I still have a completely hand-sewn patchwork baby quilt that my paternal grandmother made - I shall always treasure it, and had hoped for the same kind of response to this quilt. But what will be, will be.

Reb said...

Fabulous quilt sis! I think your neighbour is just a boor. You're correct in assuming that the young mothers of today want everything new & shiney & storebought. Heavens forbid that it be unique and not like every other kid on the block.

Good post, so, now are you going to consider doing a blog of your own?

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I don't know what the new mother's background is, but I've been to lots of baby showers in my 12 years working at a university and no matter what the age of the mother or the attendees, something hand-made has always impressed.

I hope the young lady was simply not in the know and gets clued in soon, because that's an heirloom-quality gift and should be cherished!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Bag Lady,

Terrific post!

You bring up the very important point about the value of handmade gifts.

I can barely thread a needle but my daughter in law has a very creative sister and an equally creative niece (and another sister who is a magnificent cook, but I digress.)

so, as each of her daughters were born and the other side of the family came up with all these hand crafted gifts, I felt like a dork. Finally one of my friends took pity and knitted a blanket for my middle grand daughter and I was so grateful, I nearly wept.

Your neighbor is so lucky that you went to all that trouble for her little bundle of joy. she is just ignorant, not only about the effort that goes into a hand made gift, but about the proper way to respond to any gift!!

But the most important thing you bring to the group is the fact that we have become such a commercial society that if the gift didn't come off the "registry" from Babies R Us or some place, it has a lesser value.

Your gift has a greater value, as do all hand made gifts.

I hope you will write a guest blog again!


Anonymous said...

I feel quite a bit better now, thanks to all of you. I thought I was perhaps being a tad sensitive (as I have been accused of in the past) about the whole thing.

Reb, thanks for the vote of confidence, but I really don't think I'm ready for "prime-time" blogging yet!

Thanks, Bunnygirl, and hopefully the quilt will eventually be cherished as I intended.

Terrie (great name, BTW, except shouldn't it be spelled differently? Oh, wait, maybe I'M the one who spells mine wrong...) I think you make a really good point about how commercial everything has become. I know that part of the problem is that in these modern times, it's difficult to find time to do the more traditional 'crafty' things, but I feel that these skills shouldn't be lost, so I'm waging what sometimes feels like a one-woman campaign to maintain at least some of them. My husband's family sometimes think I'm a bit of a lunatic - the outdoor oven I built a couple of summers ago is a case in point, until they tasted the pizza that came out of it - but I don't want all these traditions to go by the way-side. Oh, and Terrie, I'm pretty sure your grand-children will be busting with pride when your book comes out, so it sounds like you one-upped the in-laws in the creative field...
As far as another guest blog goes, keep your eyes peeled.

Hilary said...

Wow. That's just rude regardless of how she feels about home made vs. store bought items. Like bunnygirl said, I've only ever experienced positive reactions to a gift that has obviously been made with heart. Appreciation for others' hard work and creativity, and common courtesy.. it's a shame she hasn't yet acquired those values to pass along to her wee one.

Baglady, your comments always crack me up. Please DO consider a blog of your own.

Anonymous said...

Hilary, thanks for your supportive comment. Your comments are always enjoyable, too - love the puns! The Bag Lady doesn't feel ready yet for her own blog, but does thoroughly enjoy the banter that goes on in the comment sections of several blogs. Perhaps one day she'll gain some confidence...or at least, high-speed internet!
Leah - thanks again for the opportunity to put myself 'out there'.

Dawn said...

I have to say that I think your neighbour is ignorant. There she was, blessed with something truly unique, something that had been lovingly laboured over, and she didn't seem to know. I'm not a quilter, but I have made enough things by hand to be able to "see" the amount of work that a quilt like that would take. I'm astounded at your neighbour's blindness.

Keep quilting, keep giving, BagLady. You're giving away a blessing each time.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, I've never looked at it that way before - thanks for pointing that out. Giving away a blessing - I like that!

Crabby McSlacker said...

I know absolutely nothing about quilting or sewing but wow--what an awesome gift!

Sometimes people feel almost embarrassed to presume that what looks like tremendous effort was actually for THEM--so they want to double check that they're not misunderstanding the situation. I'm guessing she was really excited and grateful but didn't want to look stupid by assuming you'd be willing to put all that effort into a gift for her.

Or something.

Anyway, great post!

Penelope said...

Bag Lady:

I asked Karen, who is 33, about this. According to her,if Karen got a homemade quilt as a shower gift she would be thrilled. Nobody spends the time and energy on making things like quilts or crocheted (sp?) blankets and it's a total shame.

Bottom line the incident boils down to poor manners and ignorance. That gal needs to have her head examined.

Anyway, Karen's friend Robyn, who is thirty, does all kinds of crafty stuff. She even made me a really awesome pancho. Her blog address is:

-- P