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Hmong sewing and kind deeds

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Today, I want to share some goodness. Two women who have blessed my lives with their generosity.

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First of all, I’ve mentioned my sweet neighbor Lee Xiong before. She is a Hmong woman who escaped Laos with her young family with literal bullets flying over their heads in the 1970’s and emigrated to America as a refugees. When she went to get her American citizenship, it was held up because she had no fingerprints they could document because she’d worn them off working so hard with her hands for so many years. She had to get special permission and clearance through her US Senator’s office to be approved for citizenship.

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She is in her 80’s now and lives with her daughter’s family nearby, is in my church congregation, and we have become good friends. She recently brought me a birthday gift that she had made and it blew me away. Look carefully at this applique – all of the white applique design is one piece of fabric!! She cut it and appliqued it down to make this maze motif. I should have put something in for size-reference, but the whole thing is only 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ and the width of the applique itself is only 1/8th of an inch.

hmong-reverse-appliqueI’ve since researched and read a little more about the tradition of Hmong Needlework. It’s just mind-blowing to me. This reverse applique work is called “Pa nDau”. Lee Xiong’s English is still limited, but she explained that she uses very small scissors and needles to do it.

hmong sewing art

So Friday I went to thank her and visit her. I told her that I am a sew-er as well and how impressed I was with her gift. While there I asked if I could see some of her other sewing. She was so pleased to show me some of her creations. I was blown away by her work. So amazing and beautiful and requiring so much skill!

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I fell in love with this piece and asked if I could buy it from her. This one is mostly hand-embroidered. The curly-motif’s are chain-stitched and called ‘snails’. And then there are the little tiny appliqued blocks.

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Here’s a more detailed shot. I also love the appliqued triangles in the border.

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I hung this on my wall so that it can inspire me every day. Not just the amazing skill involved, but the story of this amazing, brave woman who has sacrificed so much in her life for her family. Her two daughters who are my neighbors learned a lot of hard work as teenagers as they had to help support their family (their Father died not long after they arrived in America) and Lee Xiong’s grandchildren are some of the best teenagers I know. Just good, respectful, funny, and kind kids. What a legacy.

Corn Wagon Springville Utah

Now one other story to give you some warm fuzzies for the week. This is Marsha. She owns the Corn Wagon Quilt Shop in Springville, Utah. (If you’re local, a bunch of my quilts from Fabulously Fast Quilts and others are currently displayed at the Corn Wagon.)

Marsha was at the retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago. Seeing her there and getting re-acquainted, jogged a memory I hadn’t thought about for a few years.

About 12-13 years ago, I was really getting into quilting. As you know, quilting is not a cheap hobby. Money was not a luxury and we were so careful with our budget at that time. My fun-spending money was $14 a month (I kid you not) and every few months or so, I would visit the Corn Wagon, which was the nearest quilt shop to me at the time, and carefully peruse their remnants bin or buy a couple fat quarters.

One day, I gathered up a little stash of discount remnant bundles to buy with my meager funds and went to pay for them. Marsha saw what I had, smiled and said, “Oh, you can just take them.” For a moment I wasn’t sure I heard her right, and then left SO excited with my pretty treasures. I’m sure it wasn’t a big thing to Marsha, but it was HUGE to me at the time.

Seeing her again last week, I told her that story. She had no recollection of it at all – which tells me she probably did that kind of thing more than once – but it was a good reminder to me that you never know what people’s circumstances are and small acts of generosity can mean a lot.

Kindness is a good thing. Pass it on.

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And one more picture for the road. Just because I like it. Blossoms are out everywhere here and I can’t get enough of them. Happy Easter week.

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78 Comments

  • Reply
    Kirsty@Bonjour
    March 29, 2015 at 3:04 am

    Oh, both of these stories make me want to cry. Cry in a good way. Lee Xiong’s work is just incredible – that maze and the little appliqué blocks are phenomenal. What she lacks in fingerprints she certainly makes up for with her eyesight – such amazingly detailed work.
    And kindness really is so important. Like they say, it costs nothing, so sprinkle it round like glitter!

  • Reply
    charlotte m.
    March 29, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Wonderful and inspiring stories. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Kathy
    March 29, 2015 at 5:39 am

    Thanks for sharing both of those lovely stories and pictures of spring! Very uplifting! Yes, kindness and goodness is indeed all around us, we just have to sometimes pause and look.

  • Reply
    Patricia Cash
    March 29, 2015 at 6:11 am

    Thank you for a very uplifting post. Your friend is awesome and her little quilt she gave you is awesome!

  • Reply
    Mindy
    March 29, 2015 at 6:43 am

    Fantastic stories.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    March 29, 2015 at 7:12 am

    What a lovely post! I really enjoyed reading about those two wonderful women and their generosity of spirit. It really has made my day 🙂 Elizabeth xx

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 29, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      I’m so glad!

  • Reply
    Lucy @ Charm About You
    March 29, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Oh Amy what wonderful stories. Your neighbour must have been through and seen so much. Her work is incredible, I love the white maze on that bright yellow! Marsha is a treasure too, sometimes people can do the smallest thing without realising it’s big impact 🙂

  • Reply
    Christa
    March 29, 2015 at 7:22 am

    I have a few pieces of those amazing tiny works of art. They are incredible and so well done. I can’t imagine ever being that good!! Acts of kindness just warm the heart. A quilter I didn’t know recently had a stroke minutes after purchasing her next project. When I heard this I offered to do that project for her. It was a Judy Neimeyer and not many attempt those. She was so touched that I didn’t know her but wanted to help in her recovery. It made me happy to help her Your blossoms are incredible too

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 29, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      What a meaningful gift. I’m sure it was so appreciated. It’s wonderful when you can find such personal way to help someone in need.

  • Reply
    Mary ann
    March 29, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Such a lovely Palm Sunday post Amy. I have a piece of Hmong embroidery too. Many refuges settled in StPaul area and they have a booth at the downtown farmers market. It’s such beautiful work and embodies the work ethic of the community. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Colleen
    March 29, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Amy, I am inspired by your goodness to share your love of quilting with all of us! I wish I lived closer because I think you are one amazing friend!!!! God bless your day missy:)

  • Reply
    Sandy D
    March 29, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Two great stories. Thanks for sharing them with us.Please tell Lee Xiong.s her work is beautiful for me.

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 29, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      I will!

  • Reply
    LynneP
    March 29, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Lovely stories-brought tears to my eyes as did the gorgeous photo of the tree in bloom with the white capped mountains behind. Such beauty!
    Thanks for sharing and brightening my morning!

  • Reply
    Annieo
    March 29, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I’ve seen some Hmong pieces and they are amazingly detailed. Your special neighbor is very talented. What a lovely couple of stories today. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Leslie
    March 29, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I have seen the type of piece-work your dear friend Lee Xiong made. Years ago I was acquainted with a Hmong woman who had come to this country in the 70’s under similar circumstances. We were at an event and she was wearing an entire garment that was made from teeny-tiny little triangles that she had pieced together. It was the most amazing garment I had ever seen. The intricacies were amazing. I would love to study piecing from women who do this. Their talent is beyond anything I had ever seen. I would love to know more about them and the history of their talent.

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 29, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      It really is incredible. I’ve gained a new appreciation for their work because it’s just so intricate! I’d love to have her teach me how she does it. Yet I know I would never have the patience to make it so perfectly. It’s just gorgeous!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Moore
    March 29, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Thank you for sharing these stories of two incredible women – we should all aspire to be more like them! Would love to see more inspirational posts like this! (Also PS: LOVE the new website interface!!!!)

  • Reply
    Pat
    March 29, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Thank you for these two beautiful stories!

  • Reply
    Marie
    March 29, 2015 at 10:16 am

    A beautiful post from start to finish – thank you. And thanks too for the pics of the blossoms. We are still covered under a blanket of white but hoping for mild weather this week to get rid of lots of it before E. Bunny makes his rounds.

  • Reply
    Gina ramirez
    March 29, 2015 at 10:32 am

    What a beautiful and inspiring post! And a perfect reminder to start a new week! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Kristin in Alaska
    March 29, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Wonderful stories and beautiful pictures!

  • Reply
    Regina
    March 29, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Great reminders of all the goodness there is in people. I wish stories like this were what made up the “news” – the world would be a much sunnier, happier place.

  • Reply
    Di Diane StanlEy
    March 29, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    thanks for sharing these kind and inspiring people in your life

  • Reply
    Sigi G
    March 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Amy – thank you so much for sharing these beautiful stories. Tears came to my eyes. Thank you also for sharing the beautiful blossom pictures. Over here it will still be ‘awhile’ – but there is hope :)!!

  • Reply
    Mary
    March 29, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    This is my first visit to your blog and I loved this post so much I read it out loud to my husband! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Amylouwho
    March 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Love this. Love you!

  • Reply
    Leanne Parsons
    March 29, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    What beautiful stories, Amy! That intricate piecing and embroidery really is amazing.

  • Reply
    Susie
    March 29, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    fabulous post. Thank you for showing the detail in those ‘mini quilts’. Such an amazing story too.

  • Reply
    amy deason
    March 29, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    This is so uplifting. There are such kind quilters everywhere. Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful picture of Utah. I’m in KY. Don’t have blossoms yet. Always love hearing from you.

  • Reply
    Julie in WA
    March 29, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Beautiful post!

  • Reply
    Carol
    March 29, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing that great story of your neighbor and her lovely handwork. I read a book once about a Hmong family who immigrated to California. I learned much and have thought of it often since. The book is “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.” You can pick that up and read it in all your spare time! 🙂

  • Reply
    Elaine Walker
    March 29, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Thank you from my heart. Reading about these ladies made my day. The work Lee Xiong does is incredible. You are blessed indeed to have her in your life.

  • Reply
    AngeLa
    March 29, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Wonderful stories! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Bernie
    March 29, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Excellent and uplifting post Amy. Thanks so much for sharing these stories. ❤️❤️

  • Reply
    Peggy Giese
    March 29, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Amazing stories…..absolutely love the artwork/quilting from your friend….amazing, and quite inspiring. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  • Reply
    Terri
    March 29, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    I loved your sharing of these incredible stories. They had me in tears, but mostly happy tears. I felt very deeply for your elderly neighbour though and for her hard life that she had to endure. I find it difficult to believe at her age she still has the eyesight to do such fine work that is so intricate and beautiful. God bless anyone who shows kindness to others for I don’t believe there is any other trait that we need more in life than kindness.
    Terri

  • Reply
    Jodie Zollinger
    March 29, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Amy,
    Wow what lovely needlework thank you so much for sharing. That red one is really spectacular. Gorgeous pic of the cherry blossoms and the mountains.
    Jodie

  • Reply
    Susan
    March 30, 2015 at 1:23 am

    I have a wonderful friend that I made through grief share. we each lost our husbands. Now we get out of our homes, go shopping, go out to eat, go to plays and movies, and still go to our grief group. there is a sweet, sweet lady is our group who is anxious to find her new purpose in life now that she, too, has lost her husband and is no longer a primary care giver. She tutors and mentors inner city elementary children one day a week at the church where we meet. this lady just feels unfilled yet she is always doing for others. Apparently, creditors are hounding her for bills for medical expenses for her deceased husband from near the end of his life and she doesn’t have the means to pay the bills. My friend recently gave me a little money because I had been doing most of the driving when we go out and wanted to help with the cost of the gasoline I told her I didn’t need it and tried to give it back. Finally, she told me to bless someone then. So, I had thought I would get her a corsage for Easter since she no longer has a husband to think of doing that for her, In the meantime, we learned there is going to be a workshop for widows through our group. We don’t know if this other lady can afford to take the workshop or not, so after much discussion, we decided that we would take that money plus a tad more and pay for this giving lady’s entry to the workshop. When we went to the leader and told her that we would like to anonymously pay the lady’s tuition, she told us that she loved us for wanting to do that. However, there are scholarships and the lady will receive a scholarship and b able to attend the workshop. The leader thought that perhaps our friend could use the money for gasoline. We discussed it and I didn’t want to put any stipulations on the money. I didn’t want to specify that it was for gasoline and then she need food or really need to relax with some friends and go get a pedicure to pamper herself from the stress in her life. Before my mother died, she gave me a monetary gift that was specified for education and it became a burden for me to go to school because I was diagnosed with breast cancer and six weeks later with fibromyalgia and continuing my education that I wasn’t going to be able to utilize was no longer important to e. So, we asked the leader to give the money to our friend with no stipulations as to how she spend it. We didn’t want to embarrass her with her thinking that we had the impression that she was in need. As you made the point, sometimes you never know someone else’s status. I was totally embarrassed when I asked for a scholarship at my quilt guild for 1/2 off a class. After my husband died, I needed to get out of the house and do some fun things and there were lots of expenses. That’s one of the reasons that I often enter the giveaways as it stretches my budget since I try to live on my social security disability. It’s fun to win something new as a “pick me up” and it’s great to be able to bless someone else from time to time, too no matter the size of the blessing.

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 30, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Thank you so much for sharing this experience. Isn’t it amazing (and wonderful?) how blessing someone else’s life brings so much happiness to our own? I could feel your love for your friend as you shared your desire to help her. Blessings to you!

    • Reply
      Rosemary Bolton
      March 30, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Susan, thanks for sharing your story.
      You, my dear, are a gem. I will pray for your dear friend.
      I hope that someone can help her with the payments for her husbands’ medical bills.
      How tragic.
      God Bless all of you

  • Reply
    therese
    March 30, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Dear Amy, what beautiful stories. Such a heartwarming post. I needed this today, so thank you.
    I often tell my children that, ‘kindness costs nothing’
    Total admiration for your friend. Beautiful work.
    I also love the new look of your blog! Therese x

  • Reply
    Helen @ Till We Quilt Again
    March 30, 2015 at 5:09 am

    This is one of the many wonderful “Heart Rewards” we receive from this community of people. There is a sense of connection that truly special! However it takes a Special Person to see and reflect on them as well.

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 30, 2015 at 10:58 am

      I so agree. Thank you Helen.

  • Reply
    Fiona
    March 30, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Wonderful stories and people. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sonya
    March 30, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Wow! What an inspirational post! You have brought me to tears this morning, and I thank you for it! Thank you for reminding me to pause and be more grateful for what I have been given, thank you for challenging me to seek out people I don’t know very well and learn their stories, and thank you for just plain inspiring me to be a better person! You made a difference today 🙂

  • Reply
    sparklygoddess
    March 30, 2015 at 7:08 am

    I love this post especially first picture cause I love flowers especially cherry blossom! This post was so inspiring

    sparklygoddess.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    How to Pay it Forward with Applique
    March 30, 2015 at 7:29 am

    […] Share Goodness – Diary of a Quilter – a quilt blog What a wonderful story of sharing! Wouldn't it be wonderful if sweatpants were sexy, Mondays were fun, junk food didn't make you fat, people didn't cause so much drama, life wasn't so confusing, and all good-byes only meant until tomorrow. Reply With Quote […]

  • Reply
    Nancy A
    March 30, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful stories. Reading them has been a great way to start the day.

  • Reply
    The Craftstar
    March 30, 2015 at 8:23 am

    what wonderful stories. I hope we all always remember, all the people put into our lives at different seasons for different reasons.

  • Reply
    Buffy
    March 30, 2015 at 9:44 am

    made my day kind of a post. 🙂

  • Reply
    Liz
    March 30, 2015 at 9:55 am

    Beautiful stories. Thank you for sharing the pictures of spring. They remind me of the apple blossoms on my dad’s trees.

  • Reply
    Rosemary Bolton
    March 30, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Happy Monday Amy, Thank you for sharing this. I really really enjoyed meeting your two favorite people and I love them too now. What a lovely gift she made for you. I really like the other piece she showed you. I learned at our sewing group here in No Va that all Chinese, and Asian women learn how to sew, and they make special garments. long story but I met a sweet lady at my sewing club that showed us a bunch of her stuff she made.
    This lady and her daughter are treasures.
    Quilting is an expensive hobby…. so is Figure skating, I think figure skating is more expensive and you have nothing to show for it except bruises lol – been there myself
    Great story about Marsha as well. She looks like a kind generous person. I am sure her shop is a great place to be.

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 30, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      Haha, yes! The best part of the quilting hobby is that there is something wonderful to show for it!

  • Reply
    KP
    March 30, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing such lovely stories.

  • Reply
    Janessa
    March 30, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Amy, your neighbor’s work is incredible! Does she have any other pieces she would be willing to sell?

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 30, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      I don’t know, but I will ask!

      • Reply
        Janessa
        April 2, 2015 at 7:15 pm

        Thanks! If she does, I would definitely be interested!

  • Reply
    Ginger
    March 30, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Loved the stories you shared today! I always love visiting your blog! Great combination of quilts and sewing and life experiences. Love all the pictures too! I love how you are busy doing, loving, and creating…and still remembering what is
    most important in life. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kim
    March 30, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you for the warm fuzzy post today. I feel much better about getting on with whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing.

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 30, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      Good news. 😉

  • Reply
    Diane harris
    March 30, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing two wonderful stories!

  • Reply
    Sherry
    March 30, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Thank you Amy for sharing these wonderful inspiring, warm stories.

  • Reply
    Gina
    March 30, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing this story. I always loved talking with my Great Aunts and Uncles as a kid, such great stories they told, and they were so wise. Your post made me think way back to some good times. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Emma B.
    March 30, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    What a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing the stories of these wonderful women in your life and for showing off such amazing handiwork. I have only just finished reading a book in which a woman is travelling and interviewing woman, including some Hmong women and I really enjoyed their sense of family values and marital values. Though they had such little they were so happy within their strong family structure and proud of their heritage. Blessings to you all, Emma.

  • Reply
    Beth
    March 31, 2015 at 5:23 am

    Thank you for the stories from your heart. They touched mine. The only thing I knew about the Hmong people is from a movie. I am amazed by her hand work . Last spring we went to DC to see the cherry blossoms and there was just snow. Now I find out you have them in Utah of all the places. So thank you for the lovely pictures.

  • Reply
    Ann Lings
    March 31, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Hello,

    I want to thank you for this post.
    It made me cry, not with sadness but with gratitude that there are so many ‘good people’ in our world.
    My son always teases me for talking to anyone (and I mean anyone!) I reminded him that there are people in the world who have no one to share their day with and if I can make a little difference to them and perhaps make them smile then the day has been a good one for me too.
    I love reading your posts they are full of cheer.
    Ann,
    Northumberland, England

    • Reply
      Amy
      March 31, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Aww, that’s wonderful Ann! It’s amazing how such small and simple things can make a difference in people’s lives. I’m sure you’ve blessed many!

  • Reply
    shannon c
    March 31, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Thank you so much for sharing these stories, and your friend Lee Xiong’s work is just stunning!

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    March 31, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    What a perfect week to share such blessings we receive from others. Lee Xiong’s work is magnificent. People’s talents from all over the world amaze me every day. Your blogs are so uplifting and I look forward to them. Thank you, Amy, for sharing your friends generosity and talents. Happy Easter!

  • Reply
    Lauren Deel
    April 1, 2015 at 3:16 am

    I just loved this post, Amy. Your friend’s story and work are both just amazing and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing beauty by telling both stories.

  • Reply
    Paula
    April 1, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you so much for your post and I love reading your blog. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. I am just a novice quilter, but enjoy it very much. Your quilting stories and life stories are always a pleasure to receive in my inbox! Know that you inspire others by sharing your life with us!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      April 1, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      Aww, thank you so much Paula! That means a lot.

  • Reply
    Yvonne
    April 2, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Hi Amy,
    thanks for sharing these heartwarming stories. They aHain remind me, that I should more often have a look at the people around me instead of only focusing my personal goals.
    Thank you for that!

  • Reply
    Brianna
    April 2, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Beautiful shot of springtime! I can’t wait till we get some buds on the trees here. Such a nice post, to highlight these women.

  • Reply
    Lisa E
    April 5, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Yet ANOTHER post that demonstrates why I so enjoy your blog! I definitely needed a reminder to be thankful for what I have and that being kind to others is a huge gift to them and to me. In a world with so many terrible things happening, it’s so nice to see an uplifting message. Hugs!!

  • Reply
    LilpUddin
    April 6, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful stories of friendship & kindness.

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