OT: An Amazing Surprise

Despite some sad news with David Bowie’s and Alan Rickman’s recent deaths, 2016 is starting beautifully for me. I have just received a gift that is such a surprise and such an amazingly generous gesture that I have to share the news with you – not least because it comes with fandom love attached. Let me set the scene…

Thursday (yesterday) is always an especially busy day for me, with a big deadline looming, preceded by a lot of work under pressure. I wouldn’t quite say that I dread Thursdays, but I can usually feel the stress of the day in my tense shoulders from the moment I get up. Yesterday, I was so busy with work ok, and with wasting my time with an unsuccessful attempt at spicing up my RAPS photo book video, that I did not have time to leave the house or even go downstairs to check the mail. It was not until after I had (successfully) reached my deadline that my daughter returned from school and delivered a parcel that had Jhollands Quilt IMG_7595arrived from me. Now, I *knew* that a parcel was on its way to me because the sender had told me she had “found something for me” and asked for my address. But not in a million years did I anticipate what I began to unwrap – and that made my day! A mysterious, white, soft bundle was in the package from Jholland of the Preoccupied with Armitage blog, accompanied by an envelope that suggested I open the gift before I read the note. I unwrapped and could hardly comprehend what I found. A hand-made remembrance quilt, dedicated to me, and personalised in the most beautiful way.

Jhollands Quilt IMG_7598

J created a beautiful quilt for me that has much meaning. The ginkgo leaves are a reminder of my late dad in whose honour a ginkgo tree was planted in the village where he grew up. J knew this from a post I had written in November 2014, and she decided to make and surprise me with this amazing, unique and priceless gift. I love the graduation of colours from the fresh green to the light yellow leaves, symbolising the passing of time and the journey of life. The quilt is absolutely flawlessly made, not a stitch amiss, it is simply perfect. The ginkgo leaves also make another appearance in the actual quilting of the piece. And red is my favourite colour. The details of it are simply stunning – the leaves are individually cut and sewn, they are all different, just like in nature, and they even have individually sewn veins!

Jhollands Quilt IMG_7603

This quilt is so much more than its practical use as a lap blanket and its assigned purpose as a remembrance quilt. While it will definitely keep me warm during the cold winter months in my central heating-less Georgian house (current indoor temperature: 13°C/55 F), and serve as a reminder of my dad, it will also remind me of the amazing generosity and kindness of the woman who made this for me. As a fellow crafter, I do know how much work goes into such a quilt. I have never even attempted making one myself – I suspect I have not got the patience that is involved in the making: From designing the pattern and sourcing the fabric, the cutting and assembling of the individual pieces, to layering, bordering and quilting the finished product, is a long process. I would call it a labour of love – and to be the recipient of that love is very special and very dear to me. Especially considering that J and I have never met (yet). This is an heirloom piece that is usually reserved to family and close friends, and I am touched beyond words that I have been given such a valuable present.

Jhollands Quilt IMG_7597Thank you, J, for an amazing gift that has me still shaking my head in disbelief. The quilt will always also be a reminder of you, and thus of the bonds forged in a community that I have always perceived as caring and warm, as well as generous and kind. Your gift symbolises all that (and thus even serves as a tiny reminder of RA – after all, if it wasn’t for our shared interest in him, we would never have met), and for me it is another landmark in this whole journey of preoccupation with Armitage 😉 It is another marker for the tone within our interactions, and tangible proof that there is more between fans than just whipping up each other with saucy pictures and juicy comments on our adored Mr A. Even via our virtual platforms, we touch each others’ lives, and forge friendships. It is good to be reminded of this positivity by way of a beautiful, yet practical, and certainly one-of-its-kind present. Thank you ❤ 

Jhollands Quilt IMG_7602 copyApologies for the pictures in this post – they don’t do this piece of art justice! It is simply stunning. Please do me a favour and hop over to J’s blog and read this post in which she explains how the quilt was conceived and made, and which has much better photos that detail the various steps in the making of the quilt, as well as really interesting descriptions of the process involved in creating such a masterpiece. You should subscribe to her blog, anyway – she recently proved her comic talent (once again) with a hilarious spoof on RA’s cloning conversation with Bryan Fuller. And please give her some love, too – she put a lot of fandom love into this quilt, and that includes you, too!

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50 thoughts on “OT: An Amazing Surprise

  1. I saw this on her blog too (and commented) but your photos give us a close up look at the work too – I hadn’t realised that quite apart from the appliqué leaves all the other quilting stitches are ginkgo leaves too! It’s truly amazing and beautiful on so many levels. Wrap up warm both physically and in the thought behind it 😄😄😄

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    • Spiritually and physically warm – that’s what I am. I feel very very lucky to have received so many special gifts, among them your beautiful jewellery. I wear the pendant earrings you gave me last April quite often 🙂

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  2. It’s just incredibly beautiful, the thought and love and time behind it and the quilt itself, the colours and it’s just so vivid and to m it looks almost as the leaves have just drop onto it or are blow by the wind on it, so so special 🙂 You’re a very lucky lady and she has really got a blessed heart and hands 🙂

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    • Yes, the effect of the leaves is really beautiful. The way they tumble over the quilt is almost 3D. The design of it is just perfect. If you haven’t yet, you must check out J’s post – it’s a really interesting read.

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    • Ja, die Farben sind wunderschön – einfach weil sie so lebendig sind.
      Nein, die Familie passt da nicht ganz drunter. Das Quilt ist ja auch eigentlich nur für den Schoß gedacht – dafür aber recht großzügig 😉

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  3. Oh, how lovely! The colors of the leaves, going from green to yellow, the stunning background, and the stitched inscription make this a keepsake for a lifetime. From one craftswoman to another 🙂 I’m so happy for you both.

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  4. That is BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Oh, what a lovely gift!!!!

    (how on earth do you manage to live in a cold house? We’ve finally gotten cold weather here in Georgia and I’m having a hard time keeping the thermostat set at 70. At night, I bump it up to 73…)

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  5. What a beautiful gift. It seems to glow off the screen. The fandom can be a warm and comforting place to wrap ourselves in. Jennifer is an amazing artist. I am blown away by her creativity and generosity.

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  6. How wonderfully kind and thoughtful of jholland to create this beautiful and personal quilt for you. Mr Armitage does indeed have the best followers around. Thanks for sharing this lovely event – it has cheered me up already, in what has been quite a sad week. Enjoy being snug and warm in your lovely quilt. God bless xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  7. You are very, very welcome! And yes, we do forge our bonds, and have a lot of fun with those saucy pictures and juicy comments along the way! I’m delighted beyond words that you were happy with it, and that you consider it such a keepsake! You know they always say that it’s better to give than to receive, and my mood is definitely proof of that today. *Happy Dance*

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  8. The affection and generosity of this transaction jump off the screen–in your posts and jholland’s. I’m reminded of Anna’s lovely post about the Wellington Hobbit premiere where she stunned me with her inclusive notion of “He’s smiling at you.” (https://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/from-an-armitage-ambassador-hes-smiling-at-you/) The comparison isn’t direct, but I think you’ll know what I mean. The gift was to you, but in a way, it’s also to all of us, as I, too, got an emotional boost from your quilt today. I just love this fandom.

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    • You know, that particular post has always stayed with me, too, Besotted. It was such a wonderful gesture, bringing everyone to the premiere and *sharing* or redirecting a smile.
      And I agree with you – the gift, although sent to me, contains love for the fandom, too.

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  9. Guylty, it is just the most gorgeous thing ever. When I read JHolland’s story, I also thought that this was a wonderful story about fandom friendships. You, more than any fan I know, have brought much of our fandom together with your events and gifts, not to mention a really first class Richard Armitage blog. You are so deserving of this.

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    • Aw, thanks Perry, you make me blush. I am handing back the compliment to all of you who have connected and made friendships across the fandom. (But I will hang on to my new comforter/quilt 🙂 )

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  10. Not at ease in English language and in words through computers’ blog, I only want you know, that those proofs of love, in the fandom, amaze me.
    I am more at ease with botanic and phytotherapy. “Let’s Celebrate Memories” you said, but do you know that Ginkgo biloba is actually used against memory impairments. Ginkgo biloba is the only tree, that still exists in the Ginkgoaceae family. This is family’s oldest tree, because their ancestors lived long before dinosaurs, but then disappeared. At the end let’s know that it is the first tree, that has grown after the atomic explosion in Hiroshima.
    Your personal family story ( Jholland’s sensitivity with regard to her job and her hobbies) can be well described with this amazing tree : Gingko biloba.

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    • Hello Squirrel – and thank you so much for this explanation. Now that you mention it, I think I had heard that Ginkgo is used for medication, but I was not aware that it was the oldest tree, and that is such a resilient tree that it grew again after Hiroshima. More wonderful symbolism to help me remember my dad. Thank you for sharing that with me and the readers here. And I am totally with you – even after four years in this fandom, I am still not taking the friendships and care exchanged in the fandom for granted. It is very special, and very precious! Thanks for commenting! xx

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      • The drug is named TANAKAN.

        Ginkgo is dioecious, the trees are male or female. Remarkable, these Ginkgo trees! Only very former representatives of the plant kingdom, such as algae and mosses have a similar mechanism of fertilization.

        Sorry it is not the oldest tree, but it is part of one of the oldest family of trees. Survivor of many species that thrive in the world, at the end of the primary era and had since disappeared, it is a true living fossil.

        (Indeed, the evolutionary history of ginkgo back to the late Primary era (there are 250 million years to the Permian specifically). However, it was the secondary that gender diversifies. Thus, the estimated number of species is 5 to 6 species in the Jurassic (the time of dinosaurs) and up to 11 species during the Cretaceous period at the end of Secondary.
        Currently, there is only one species of ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba, family Ginkgoaceae, order Ginkgoales and belonging to gymnosperms. Other gymnosperms, Cycas and Zamia, have an evolutionary history even older since the first Cycas ago would have appeared 300 million years.)

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  11. I’ve been meaning to get back to this to comment, and over at JH’s too. What a simply stunning quilt for a very worthy recipient! As one who has hand and machine pieced a few quilts at a very basic level, I am in total awe of the creativity, time and talent that has gone into producing such a beautiful piece. Story like this of fandom friendship makes me proud to be a part of this Armitage Community. 🙂

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