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linda@surroundedbyscraps.com
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Handmade quilts and home accessories by fiber artist Linda Nussbaum. See samples of past projects as well as pieces available for sale and inspirations for custom orders. To see what is currently available for sale, please visit my Etsy Shop.

Surrounded by Scraps

A Facebook Message I Almost Didn't Read, But Am So Glad I Did

Linda Nussbaum

It has been a LONG time since I set “foot” in this blog. But this is a story worth sharing.

And there are a few lessons to be learned:

Lesson 1: Every once in a while, seemingly random things really do happen for a reason. Objects hold stories and the energies that have been near them, and those energies can be picked up by others.

Lesson 2: We are so used to seeing how people misuse social media, it is unexpected when a stranger uses it for a truly benevolent act.

(and this next one is for all of you quilters out there…)

Lesson 3: ALWAYS LABEL YOUR QUILTS! They should include date and city of origin as well as the maker’s name(s).


And now the Story…

Prologue — Back in 2005 or 2006 I made a quilt that I never planned to keep. It was created as a fundraising auction item for a cancer support center in St. Louis. At the time a dear friend of the family had been using their services, while around the same time another dear friend out on the west coast was undergoing chemo and radiation. **Spoiler alert — both of the aforementioned women are happy and healthy today and still dear friends respectively.

The quilt as I documented before sending it off into the world. Pattern from French Braid Quilts, by Jane Hardy Miller.

The quilt as I documented before sending it off into the world. Pattern from French Braid Quilts, by Jane Hardy Miller.

The printed label applied to the back of the quilt.

The printed label applied to the back of the quilt.

I sent the quilt, got notification of its receipt and that was that. The rest was up to the organizers of the fundraiser and I just hoped that the quilt found a home and brought some good. Goodbye to “A Flower Garden for Saskia.”

A Facebook Message I Nearly Missed — We all have that love/hate relationship with Facebook… at least those of us who don’t simply have the hate part of the relationship, or no relationship at all. When they separated the direct messaging into a different application altogether, I opted not to download that application, so only see messages when I access on my laptop. And even then, I only look at messages I get notifications about, which means messages from people among my friends list.

I had reason to go to my Messages the other day and saw that there was a small grouping of messages from strangers (or people not on my friends list) that had been filtered in a way that I had to click the list and accept or decline each individually. At the time I ignored them. This morning I decided to “clean out” those messages.

In this day and age of universally accessible social media I don’t think there is any one of us who has not been bombarded at some point by spam. There are the unwanted followers on Instagram who are just out to grow their accounts; robo-accounts with fake profile pictures; lame, lonely singles out trolling… At best it’s annoying, at worst it’s threatening. At the top of my message list was a notification that [name of man who is a stranger to me] sent me a photo. I was about to click a button to report this as spam, but decided it would be wise to check the content of the message before actually reporting it as spam. Good call, Linda.

What I Least Expected — The photos he sent were of my own quilt. At first I thought it was something posted on Pinterest, maybe, but quickly realized that the photos were snapped by the sender, and upon reading his message I was truly agog.

found_Garden_Quilt_label.jpg
found_Garden_quilt.jpg

There was a short message that accompanied these photos, stating that he found this quilt in a dumpster while out walking his dog. It was at an apartment complex in the greater St. Louis region, where he said items left behind in vacant apartments are simply thrown out. He adds that he “couldn’t let this happen to this beautiful work of art,” so he brought it home and washed it, which is when he noticed the label.

When was the last time you saw someone’s handiwork hanging out on the curb or by a dumpster and decided it was too nice to become garbage? I don’t have an answer for that myself, but I can tell you I’ll be keeping my eyes open from this moment on!

And from the information on the label (presumably my name and city) he set out to find a way to contact me. And THAT is one of the wonders of Facebook and this age we find ourselves in! After reading his comments and seeing the photos, I responded immediately (which, in all fairness, was about 3 weeks after his original message). An expression of shock, a genuine Thank You and an offer were sent back in his direction.

Finders, Keepers — Some say that there are people who cross your path in your lifetime that are meant to be there at particular moments. I suspect the same can be said of certain objects or even observations. This particular object was one that I had made with a fair amount of emotion involved, and as stated earlier, with a specific purpose with which to go out in the world. And that was all it was supposed to be for me. I was never meant to follow its journey and certainly not meant to have it return to me. So with that in mind, I wrote to this young man that if he would like to keep the quilt that he has been caring for, it is his. I also said that if he really didn’t want it we could arrange to ship it back to the west coast. I was so very glad to get his response saying he would love to have the quilt. So I thought it only appropriate to give him the short story of the genesis of the quilt, more or less what is in the “Prologue” of this post.

And you know what? His response brought tears to my eyes. With a genuine “Thank you,” he added his own quick story, sharing that as a teen he had lost his mother to cancer and that she, too, had made quilts. He said that as soon as he first saw this quilt he thought of his mom, and now would “love and appreciate its beauty for the rest of my life.”

I can only hope that the first “owner” found something in it, whether comfort, beauty, a sense of giving or a totem for a memory. Whatever its journey between 2006 and 2019, I get to know that this quilt that I made with love in my heart has found a true home. I’m not one to use the word “blessed” but I think this might be what blessed feels like. For today, I get this feeling.

Oh, and back to that last lesson… Remember to label your quilts (and other artistic endeavors, Makers)!! I’m not so good about that on the generic ones, but I think that will change now.