Encouraging Others

Phyllis Inspiration 38 Comments

As I have shared with you, my sweet granddaughter asked if I would teach her how to sew! It was music to my ears. We have begun our sewing journey. Her machine is small and she loves it—Sophia2 by Baby Lock. When she isn’t sewing, it is perfect for me to take when I am traveling. Everyone in my office thinks it’s hilarious that I travel with a sewing machine, but when Neal is in a conference and I get to tag along, I love to spend part of my day sewing. OK, back on track.

I learned to sew, cook, garden and do most things from my mom or one of my grandmothers. It occurred to me that nothing has really changed. With all of our technology, there is nothing that replaces a caring, loving person teaching something to another.

When my boys were young, they loved to cook with me, which mainly meant licking the icing beaters. But they were in the kitchen learning….today they are both marvelous cooks. Brian bakes and Eric likes to grill. They have taken the basics and have continued to learn and try new techniques and recipes.


As the grandchildren came along, I love including them in the kitchen. We have created some wonderful memories mixing and backing together. When my grandson was very young, he loved to make biscuits. In fact, it became a ritual! When I was in the kitchen, he would pull his stool up and get ready for his part. Today, cookie dough is his passion. I realized that he is just like his dad. He really is learning to cook…he is there to eat the batter or icing!

My granddaughter likes to add every ingredient, stir every stroke and try to get the batter in the pan all on her own. She is so determined, and I love that about her.

Are we teaching as we should? As we get older and we feel that our time has passed for teaching, we forget that our knowledge should be passed along. It’s the tips and tidbits of knowledge that make things interesting. We should be creating opportunities to teach. I’m sure many of you are thinking “I don’t have anyone to teach!” Let me share a story.


When I was a teenager we went on a choir tour, which meant we stayed in homes of church members in the cities where we traveled. It was my great fortune to stay in the home of a very elderly woman who was a quilter. She had one pattern that she made that I was intrigued with—Cathedral Window. I admired her work and couldn’t keep from asking a zillion questions about how she made that quilt. She went to her little box of fabric, brought out fabric and proceeded to cut squares. She showed me how she made the quilt, sent me home with that sample, and encouraged me to get started in making a quilt.

I still have that sample block. I keep it with my quilting materials and think of her every time I look at it. You never know who in your circle of influence would love to learn from you. Whether your passion is sewing, gardening, cooking, or collecting, take time to share your interests with someone. Young people are looking for someone to teach them.

Have you passed on a special skill?

Comments 38

  1. I love this! I know we are sisters in heart! I learned to sew from both my mom and her mom. Both excellent seamstresses. I also had wonderful teachers in high school that taught a class in sewing and we learned a lot from them as well.

    My sister, Kate, and I spent a lot of hours sewing on my grandmother’s beautiful Singer machine during summer visits. Black with gold decorations and in a lovely wood sewing machine cabinet. Grandmother made quilts out of scraps and also braided wool rugs from old clothing. Kate made a few wonderful quilts and for my mom and step-dad’s anniversary, we made a friendship quilt with autographed squares from friends and family.

    Now I am in the “one day” mode. My goal is to carve out a sewing corner in my studio which is too full of paper storage right now. Meanwhile, sewing projects are lined up.

    Recipes are my passion right now because they don’t require much space. And I learned from the same suspects above, including Kate, as well as great recipe ideas in magazines. Grandma’s pie crust is still the absolute best in my opinion. I used it to make apple galette to utilize the abundant apples from our trees – perfect crust! My favorite thing to do is to find several recipes for what I want to make/create and compare. Then experiment around to create my own version. Currently buttermilk ranch dressing. The last batch was a big success according to hubby. Yay!

  2. My Sweet Mother used to make dresses for us & cut the pattern out of a newspaper. I can remember going to the fabric store & picking out material & it was so precious how she carefully looked @ so many beautiful pieces, unique pieces which I still vision these days. I was fascinated by it but even more now that she is gone. She did embroidery, everything, I don’t know what happened to me. I had. Sewing machine & my husband gave it away because I didn’t use it, lol. I’ve decided I must take up sewing again little steps @ a time, crocheting, etc. I used to make a few pieces but never persued it.

  3. I love these stories. They are inspiring and reminding to me to do the same for my grandchildren. I am just now learning to quilt and love to garden, crochet, and make jewelry. I love it that you are a christian. I wonder if they still have church choir tours?

  4. Remembering my four sons and their experiences in cooking. At least two of them worked in restaurants. All four were adept at cooking meals. My oldest son even learned how to bake and cook during his off time from driving a semi-truck.

  5. Phyllis, I too had a very similar Cathedral Window quilt story. I learned how to make those magical quilt ‘windows’ from a co-worker who was 80 years old and still working! I saved the sample she gave me and every time I see a Cathedral Window quilt I think of the kindness she showed me.

  6. I love sharing with my grandaughters my passions in life which is
    Much like yours, gardening, sewing, and cooking. My little girls have been in the garden with me at an early age picking up leaves,
    Learning to weed, and picking flowers for their mom or teachers.
    It always makes my heart happy to have them with me. We bake
    Cookies and decorate them for holidays. The 4th of July flag cookies
    will be our get together this week along with their cousins, even the
    Teenagers, in town for the holiday. They are all so proud to take to our big family cookout their platter of beautiful cookies made by them.
    As for sewing, which is what I do for a living. The girls have watched me for years. Now my 10 year old, just last week sat down at my machine
    And with instruction from me, made herself a pair of Shorts and a skirt with pockets for her younger sister. She learned embroider at the age of
    Seven. I know they will always remember me for all these exposures
    And experiences we have shared together. This is what we must do to
    Keep these traditions to live on. The art of cooking, sewing, and baking
    Are not in every home anymore as was in our generation. I am so glad that I can pass on to my children and grandchildren what I know
    And defines a lot of who I am today.

  7. I have five grandchildren (3 boys and two girls) . I let them help iron, hang out clothes, empty dishwasher, make cookies, etc. they are curious and enjoy helping. Even the boys. I believe if they are bachelors for awhile they will be able to do things for themselves.

  8. Such great stories… The other day I was teaching my granddaughter how to bread an Italian style chicken cutlet… She asked me some really good questions about cooking… I just know she will be in the kitchen whipping up some good dishes!

  9. These are what I call our most teachable moments. There is an added bonus. Oh, what they teach us! This is one of my favourite Ribbon journals. Thank you.

  10. Thanks for this wonderful story. I learned how to knit from my homemaking ninth grade teacher. My twin sister did not have the same teacher ,so I taught her to knit. Our older sister taught us Frere Jacque in French when we were toddlers. She also taught our cousin to spell some words when she was a little girl. Our late father taught us how to bowl. Our late mom gave us the inspiration to enjoy reading.
    Joan,Marion and Marilyn

  11. Hi Phyllis, Loved your topic, my grandchildren live many states away and we constantly send them little gifts in the mail they are loving the Bible story books we recently have been sending along with doodle books. The art of reading I feel is important in their future lives. Being in the senior retirement field as an Administrator I had many socials; a
    comedy night, tea parties with all the fixings, fashion shows, jewelry shows, Veterans Day gathering, monthly Birthday parties and all the annual events that take place each month. The seniors loved having their inner child come out especially comedy night when we would all share jokes and have many laughs. I tried to honor them in every way possible. Since we recently sold our gated community in San Diego I correspond with many of them and its always warms my heart when they tell me living in our community was the BEST years of their lives.
    I just feel sad when their relatives call me and let me know they have passed on, letting me know their loved one would of wanted that. Sharing traditions with seniors are just as important as passing on talents to our young so no one gets left behind. Everyone needs love and guidance. Thanks for The Ribbon in my journal! God Bless, Carmel

  12. I cannot find your new magazine: Sewing
    anywhere here, in Plano,Tx.(not
    in Barnes n Noble..or the groceries..which have all your other magazines…I want to
    see an issue before subscribing..why isn’t it out with the rest? ‘Love most of the
    others and subscribe to many already..

  13. This last week I had a Cousins Sewing Camp for my 5 granddaughters and my niece. They spent the week with me and their first project was to make a pillowcase . We went to the fabric store and they each picked our their own fabric including 2 other fabrics for the bands around the pillowcases. It was fun to see their creative juices flowing and they picked out such nice color combinations. We worked on the pillowcases, they were so proud when they finished them and couldn’t wait to put them in their pillows. I had made basic aprons for them to use while I taught them cooking. I let them decorate their aprons with whatever they wanted. My table looked like an explosion of buttons and Rick rack. They learned so much that week and then we had an end of the week party for their parents that they prepared for. They ironed tableclothes, picked flowers for the tables and made the meal. It all turned out beautiful and the girls kept telling me it was the best week of their life. I’m thankful for the memories they will have from this week. They did tell me they wanted to go it every year and it should last for 2 weeks. I said every year would be great but probably not 2 weeks in a row. This grandma is exhausted !

  14. Aren’t grandchildren wonderful? I cannot sew but I can bake and do decorate cakes which I have been sharing with my 5 year old grandson. He helps measure, stir, etc and he also enjoys sitting down with a cup of tea with some cookies. I have been teaching him backgammon which he enjoys. It’s great when we are able to share what we have, passing along skills they may otherwise not have access to and the bonding, the love is an added bonus!

  15. That little granddaughter looks just like her grandmother – what an amazing resemblance.
    Enjoy your column — so charming and uplifting. Thank you for sharing. Loretta

  16. Although I wasn’t too good at it, I passed on the tradition of making Ukrainian Easter eggs,pysanky, to my son when he was little. He soon surpassed anything I had ever created and although he is a busy young man these days, every Easter he still makes a pysanka.

  17. Dear Phyllis,
    While I realize that your “Ribbons” are part of your business, I very much appreciate the loving, caring thoughts that are often transmitted through your words.
    Today I learned of the impending death of a sweet friend — the third unexpected dear retired teacher in as many weeks to leave this earthly domain.
    Each of these dear ladies was sharing with others long after their formal days in the classroom were over.
    Thank you for reminding us that we all have been blessed with something to share with others… Sometimes it is a skill that becomes a lifetime love and sometimes it is a sweet story to momentarily brighten a sad heart!

    1. Ribbons are for all of us to share….thank you for sharing of your loss. You are right we all have something to share! I love sharing with you. We all need to be reminded that we matter to many people!

  18. I so enjoy reading your column!
    Sewing has been my passion since I was a little girl.
    My grandmother and my mother both sewed for me, and my mother taught me how, but I never took it in school.
    Now, most schools no longer offer it as a class subject. So, when I became a teacher, I had to select a subject matter for which I could find employment!
    (science) LOL
    I am so glad to see that there are still many people who are passing on this wonderful and creative skill!

  19. Your blog is always so wonderful! We are at “the lake” with our darling granddaughters. At the cabin we are relaxed and happy…. But I’ve made a fun time where I sweep and vacuum a bit in the morning.

    I tell the grandchildren … It takes me less than five minutes to complete the small task and they love to time me (has taught the little ones to tell time )and they giggle as I complete the task I less than five minutes.

    Well, this morning when I came out of the shower, the two granddaughters were sweeping and vacuuming the cabin and their mommy was timing them. They did this on their own before going swimming. Was the cutest scene and can you believe they were actually having a grand time “helping”!! And it was just PERFECT!!

  20. I love the dimensional feel of a Cathedral quilt and that was back before rotary cutters! My first quilt was a Sunbonnet Sue/Overall Sam and Mom taught me to cut the pieces and applique them. Later she taught me about sashing so I could put it together. My Aunt is the one who made me fall in love with baking. She showed and shared the recipe for a Hungarian Coffee Cake. I loved to bake it for my parents, especially my Dad who taught me to ice skate, swim, bicycle, garden and so much more. I really miss him but have memories to comfort me and I’m still so proud of him. It’s a shame so many parents don’t cook for their families now-they run to fast food or buy frozen foods for the microwave. They and their little ones are missing out on so much memory making moments.

  21. Love your blog as well!…..I agree whole-heartedly about teaching the little ones sewing, cooking & gardening, etc!……I am hoping to do the same thing with my grandchildren!…..Thank you for reminding us all, Phyllis!…..Your friend, Heidi XO

  22. Thank you, Phyllis, for today’s reminder to share our gifts.
    I was reminded of how my Dear Father, at age 71, taught
    himself to sew……..from a library book!…….so that he could
    teach me to sew at 14 ! A skill I used for many, many years,
    sewing clothes for myself and for my children, and in making gifts
    and crafts for church bazzars.

      1. they have “no notes or updates in their system but power should be restored by Tu228ay&#dse1;. TUESDAY? A washed out section of Rt 287 was rebuilt in 1 DAY and I can’t get power back for 10 days – let alone see ANY activity yet???I’m starting to think all the utility trucks went to South Jersey to make sure that was ready for Labor Day.This would indicate that the real JCP&L issue is lack of resources to save money, and screw New Jersians. I’d say NJ folks need to march on the BPU.

  23. I learned the basics of cooking and sewing in home economics classes at school, but my mother taught me the finer skills of both. God bless her soul!

  24. What a heartwarming story you have shared, Phyllis! My mother taught me to sew and I enjoyed teaching one of my daughters. It is such a wonderful skill and I am having such fun creating clothes and toys for my grandchildren. How lucky you are to have your grandchildren close by so you can pass on your talents to them!

  25. A wonderful post, we can learn and teach in so many areas of our life activities. I am going to work on learning more and giving a bit of what I know too. Thanks for the reminder about sharing!

  26. So sweet that you are passing along your techniques to your Granddaughter. I love hearing that you travel with a sewing machine. This is such an inspirational blog!

    My husband’s Aunt taught me the art of Foundation Paper Piecing and I still have that first block that we created together.

  27. This is such a great reminder for all of us, Phyllis. God gave each of us gifts and talents to share. One thing I have learned in life is that none of us can comprehend what life long memories and lessons we can give someone else. What we teach, say and do can mentor young people to impact their lives, not just in our own family. Your sweet story about the quilt square is the perfect example of that.

    I love that your darling grandchildren love nothing more than to cook, bake and sew with you!

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