Reaching out from the past

hooksRecently I received an email from a man who thought we might be cousins. He had read an article on my website that my mother wrote about a piece of our family history. He was correct, we are cousins and it was a nice surprise to meet him. He had stumbled upon my website somehow, read my mother’s article and recognized the names of our great-grandparents and my grandmother.

He told me that his great-aunt, our great-aunt, had been an avid knitter and crocheter and that when she passed she left all of her handmade items, patterns, and tools to him. After visiting my website, he wanted to share some of the items with me because he felt I should have them.


It was a great treat a couple of weeks later to receive a box in the mail with a number of beautiful handmade items made by a very talented lady who came before me. He also included some her tools in the package; I think I will create a shadow box display of the tools along with at least one of her handmade items.


Although these are not knitted items, I wanted to share some photos of her gorgeous, detailed hand work. I am amazed at the fine detail and if you look at that one metal crochet hook (I suppose it is a crochet hook) the hook on the tip is so tiny I cannot even make it out very clearly without holding the hook up close to my eye, with my glasses on, and squinting quite vigorously.


The thought of using such an implement to create with astounds me, and to use it years ago when perhaps the lighting was not very good … how did she do it? How did her eyes survive it? When did she make the time?

Her name was Jestin, she was born in the late 1800’s in Virginia, and through the magic of the Internet I have been entrusted with a bit of her creative legacy for which I am humbly grateful. Thank you Great Aunt Jestin, and thank you cousin Joe for helping her reach out to me from the past.


Meanwhile, my own needlework has been on the back burner for the past several weeks. Finally, after this long hiatus I have three or four projects in various stages of “the works”. The first one I need to finish is a long overdue chemo hat designed and knit for my sweet mother.


After that, I will get going on a new Christmas Stocking design for little Sweet Pea. I am actually going to design and knit a pair of old-fashioned Christmas Stockings for mother and child using these beautiful, soft sock yarns I recently purchased from Fiber Optic Yarns. I love her low contrast sock yarn colorways, they suit my taste because I am not a fan of high contrast multi-colored yarns. For this project I bought Tomato, Watercress, and Pale Violet. The Watercress will be in both stockings, Tomato will be used in my daughter’s stocking and Pale Violet will be for Sweet Pea.

After the Christmas Stockings, I will be on to baby leg warmers to go with the Magic Tutus my daughter creates. Patterns for the above mentioned projects will be available sometime after the first of the year; I believe I will be able to get any of the patterns available before that time. If you want to know when the patterns are released, be sure to join my mailing list.

One other thing of note, I am selling my new line of firefly’s Country Cotton yarns at I Live on a Farm in 2.5 oz. balls and 14 oz. cones in ten pretty colors chosen especially for the things I love about the country and the farm. The yarn is available by itself, or in two kits: The Biscuit Blanket Kit, and The Sweet Pea Baby Blanket and Soft Block Kit.

What are you working on for the holidays?

Hope you have a great week!


Copyright © 2009 J. L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


12 Responses to “Reaching out from the past”

  1. […] crop of pumpkins. Side Bar: For my knitting and other needle craft readers, I posted a new entry at The Knitting Blog this morning (9 Nov […]

  2. It’s always a nice surprise to meet new/lost family.

    The photos are great and the items in the photos are awesome.


  3. Linda Duffee Says:

    Hello, I finally realized that I was not going to get good enough at knitting to knit a Christmas Stocking. I have oogled your 3 patterns ever since you published them. I took them to a good friend who has been knitting for years and years. She loved your patterns also, and couldn’t wait to get started. however….. there is no Gauge in these patterns?? Or, we did not find them… Can you help us out. She has already improvised and is knitting away, but I will not be that good for years and eventually want to make several of these. I know I will need a gauge. Thanks for your help. I love your site, your blogs and wish we were neighors! Linda

  4. sally stanton Says:

    We too have been the recent recipants of something from the past, it is so awsome to touch these things and in essance touch the person who created them. My mother-in-law, whom I never met, as she died several years before I met my husband crocheted some very lovely things all of these were in the possession of a sister-in-law who didn’t share like your cousin, but in June when she (SIL) passed my husband was gifted, by a neice, with several pieces of his mothers work as well as some of her needles. He is a woodworker and he is going to make a shadow box, just like you mentioned, to display some of her work. She would be 109 this year a Native American born on the Shinicock Reservation on L.I. NY. it sometimes makes me want to cry that these lovely creations have been hidden away all these years and not shared.

    Wish I were back in good old upstate to enjoy the fall and coming winter days, how I long to “go home again”.

  5. What absolutely beautiful crochet pieces you received from your talented auntie. Your very lucky that your cousin found you to pass them onto you, how wonderful! I love those tutus on your granddaughter, she is just gorgeous.

  6. Firefly, love the vintage doilies and what a terrific story! Your leaf photos are neat too! Happy Fall!

  7. What a lovely story and a great gift! Such beautiful tools of craft.
    And how lucky that these tools have found their round-about way to you, as if it had been their destiny all along, don’t you think?
    I have metal crochet hooks like that from my great-grandmother, she was born in 1860, almost 160 years ago. From her, I learned how they were used in the late forties of the last century. She used them for beading as the hook was so small it went right through the eye of the bead, put the yarn over the tiny hook and pulled it back. She made lovely beaded purses with the finest of yarns and beads.
    Fine hooks like that were also used for mending runs in socks and stockings. Before the advent of “nylons” one wore very finely knitted stockings which needed mending off and on. And sometimes one even mended nylons, taking the runs up with that fine hook.

  8. […] Reaching out from the past « The Knitting Blog […]

  9. Pam Gardner Says:

    I fell upon your website while looking for easy hat patterns to make for a high school friend who has just been diagnosed with lung cancer. I am not a super knitter and knitting with double pts. is super hard (in my view)! How do I conquer that? I have made a few hats with seams and the seam always shows-ugh! I want her hats to be extra soft and pretty, your lavender hat caught my eye. anyway any suggestions on patterns, yarn, etc. are appreciated. We no longer (sadly) have a local yarn shop which I sorely miss.

  10. Hello Firefly! so long!… I have been reading you even though I have not written. I always love your pictures and your writing. Those crochet beauties your cousin gave you are really something special. My grandma used to do that kind of work (maybe that is why I appreciate it so much!) I see the baby is fine and her mommy too. Big hug for you and yours, Peggy

  11. I would really love to know when your Christmas stocking patterns are available . Often read your inspiring and visually beautiful blog – it never fails to cheer me .
    I also share your love of greens and mauves , also pastel shades of wool .
    Glad that little Sweetpea is thriving , i have 2 little Grandaughters of my own , knitting for them gives me great pleasure .
    Blessings Pankhurst

  12. What a lovely man! How many people value these treasures from the past yet are willing to share? I am forever finding this type of item all lost and lonely in thrift stores. I take them home and puzzle over their story and the beautiful handwork.

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