No Strings Attached

As many of you know, I get mail from blog readers all of the time.  Some packages have things that are meant purely for me to pass on.  Most packages come with a note that says, “Keep what you want and pass the rest on”.  A few packages are specifically for me.

I love packages that come specifically for me but they also make me really nervous.  I feel like I am duty-bound to have to keep or make whatever the item is…and sometimes time, life, style, or circumstances just don’t push me to the project.  It’s a heavy burden to make, finish or do the projects that are sent to me and it makes me feel really guilty about them.

Here’s an example.  I very kind blog reader sent me this cross stitch chart.  I just love it.
I almost started stitching this but then saw it stitched up as you see in the picture below.  WHAT??  I love this.  So different from the cover photo above. The original pattern calls for two colors but whoever stitched this obviously used more than two.  When I stitch it, I want to stitch it like the picture below.  So now, the project has sat because I want to find the colors the person below used.  I have hunted for a conversion chart but to date, I haven’t found one.

I feel bad because a thoughtful person gifted this to me with the intention that I would stitch it.  I really think I will but I need time to figure out how to do it in a way I will love…and like you all, I’m human and it’s much easier to grab something prepackaged and kitted rather than to figure out something harder.  I still hope to make it one day!

Another blog reader gifted me… one or two of these cross stitch charts.  At the time I was head over heels for them.  I was stitching stuff that was totally this style and I was thrilled to get the charts.  I got the January one stitched and about then, my style kind of changed.  I went to stitching more samplers and more primitive looking stuff…so I haven’t finished stitching this series.

These are stitched on larger count linen with two threads of floss.  That’s not my favorite anymore.  I like one strand of floss on 40 count….so these have languished.

I still think they are cute and I wouldn’t be surprised if I someday stitch one or two picking my favorites of the bunch like the September chickens.  I love that one!!  I love the April carrots too.

Yet I feel bad because someone gifted these to me.  I still enjoy them even though I haven’t stitched them.  I pull out the patterns.  I look at the sizes.  I dream about finishing them but am stuck on how to stitch them in my currently preference with only one strand of floss.

Other things have been gifted to me too.  Seriously…lots of stuff.  Truth be told, more stuff than I can likely ever finish.  There are only so many hours in the day and as much as I love the gifts…not everything is in my style, or comfort zone or desire…and I have my own agenda of things I have to finish or work on.

I got a package from a blog reader in 2021 with a project that she was sure I would love.  I really thought they were cute.  She cross stitched all of these cute little beagle cross stitch dogs.  She told she wanted me to make a beagle quilt for Georgia with them.

They are SO CUTE and it was so thoughful that she stitch these… but I was and still am super nervous in using them in a quilt.  I worried about the stitching staying in place.  I’m worried about putting interfacing in the backing on them and how that will work with my longarm.  I’m nervous about Georgie staining the white Aida and not being able to get it clean but mostly I’m worried that I’ll go through all the work to make the quilt and Georgie won’t like it.

Georgie is three.  She isn’t into dogs anymore.  She is head over heels knee deep into horses and unicorns.  Everything is horses and unicorns.  She’s at the age she throws fits about things that aren’t just so.  So much so that she won’t wear a horse shirt if the horses eyes are closed.  That’s just how picky she is.

Everytime she puts clothes on, typically one of the pieces of clothing has a horse on it and if it doesn’t she’s carrying her horse backpack that is full of horses and unicorns…(She calls them coon-i-corns)

I know Georgie and she isn’t going to be happy with a beagle quilt at this point in her life.  I don’t want to put my time into something that I feel unsure about doing that I don’t think Georgia will want….it’s not horses.  It’s not unicorns.  Dogs were so a year ago in her little life.

Imagine how sick I felt when I got a note from the maker of the beagle cross stitch pieces…

She was wondering why I hadn’t done anything with the pieces yet.  She said she sees me accomplishing so many things and can’t understand why I haven’t done anything with the beagles cross stitch pieces.

I totally understand.  She put a lot of work into the pieces.  She gave the pieces with the expectation, on her part, that her desired outcome, a quilt for Georgie, would happen with the pieces.

I feel bad about it, but at this point and time, I will not be making a quilt with the beagle pieces.  I talked to Kelli about it and both of us agree that Georgie won’t be excited about it.

Because of all of this, I feel it’s necessary for me to make a policy on my recieving anything sent to me.  It goes as follows…

I am blown away time and again by the generosity of readers, but I cannot accept items, even gifts, with strings attached. Anything sent to me is under my own discretion as to what will be, if anything, done with the items unless they are exclusive marked for charity quilting. 

I cannot accept products for promotion with the expectation of a positive review, or a mention at all. I will only share and recommend products that I love and I am certain my readers will too. (Or that I do NOT love and want to warn my readers about!)

If you have charity quilt tops or quilting supplies that you would to donate, please do to the donation page on the blog, FIND IT HERE, and find a worthy place to donate to.  These charity quilt makers appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity so much!  If you are unsure of who to donate to, feel free to contact me and I can help. I want to manage your resources well and postage is EXPENSIVE! Please help me help you ship your donations where they are needed most.”

This will be on my About Page for anyone to reference at any time.  You can find that HERE.  I hope this will alleviate any misunderstandings or expectations about items that are sent my way.  I feel bad if I have hurt anyone’s feeling past or present about items that have been sent to me.

Again, I truly appreciate the gifts and items sent to me personally and for the charity quilt program.  I have been blessed by them every single time.  I simply cannot carry the guilt for projects I haven’t completed. I cannot change my life and schedule to meet the expectation of a gift-giver.

So, if you are sending something, the only way I can accept the item is if no strings are attached.  Thank you for understanding.


53 thoughts on “No Strings Attached”

  1. Good column. I don’t have a blog so don’t receive any unsolicited quilting gifts, and even I have to fight off the feelings of guilt, having way too many to ever use or finish in my lifetime! I cannot imagine how overwhelmed you must feel at times by all the offerings, especially ones with strings attached. Of course, people have good intentions…and sometimes it’s a hard call. It’s good you made it clear. Yesterday, I was walking with a friend to the local cemetery to visit her family’s section. Surrounding her mother and brother’s graves were old cracked planters filled with faded plastic flowers, placed there by a well-meaning acquaintance at her church. My friend thinks they are ugly and would like to exchange them for ones she likes better but is reluctant to hurt her church friend’s feelings. An act of kindness has created an anxiety-filled dilemma.

  2. I totally understand this! It would stress me out to have these expectations, however well meaning. It’s great that you have clarified your policy so you can alleviate that stress.

  3. Even before you created the donation page I thought it must be quite a burden for you to sort all that and pass it on. I love your donation page and was happy to meet Agnes and Jazz that way. Life moves to quickly to allow us to do everything we want. We need to remain flexible and discard what is weighing us down. I think you have a good policy.

  4. You are blessed with well meaning friends who think they know what you want. But we change our styles and you change your style. And little Georgie is certainly is allowed! Move on and enjoy what you like. We all love you❤

  5. Wow. Pretty harsh response. Check me off your list. Feel sad and embarrassed for this thoughtful woman. You receive way too much from folks and it’s time you bought your own dried fruit.

    1. Darlynn Venne

      Whoa Jane duck, that was really mean! If you do not agree with an author, please do not be rude. Either ignore the commentary or stop following and let go. In the future, I hope you find less hurtful ways to express your disagreement.

  6. It is your blog and you can set the boundaries for it. I have been given lots of quilting items, some I can use others not so much. I have to move it along or my space would be filled with stuff I don’t want.

  7. Gifts must be released by the sender. It is unfair to tell someone else what to do with something they didn’t ask for…..and a follow-up email on why you haven’t? I’m sorry this happened. Great policy!

    Happy weekend Jo :-)

  8. A very wise person once told me that once anything has been gifted? It belongs to the recipient. Period. It’s not fair for anyone to put any expectations on you because they were feeling generous. You do amazing things with all you’re gifted with. Always remember that!!

  9. Someday, whenever that is!!! The beagles will make a very creative wall hanging or 2?, the rescue people will get good $ for it at their fund raising event. Than a grateful note as to that to the maker will surfice. She may have to accept that you are very gratful, but only have 1 body, x number of hours, etc.

  10. Here’s something from my life: Last week I found, once again, my set of Monday-Sunday hand towels appliqued and embroidered with Sunbonnet Sue and Sam. These were given to me by a close friend who had previously given me 4 hand towels with appliqued and embroidered fruit on them. She embroiders with a machine. The fruit towels were great. But the 7 hand towels were just too much. I had used two of them, but put them all aside with a note stating when and where they came from. Wanting a solution, I called her up and told her I appreciated them, but I just didn’t use them. She said that they were mine, and I could do whatever I wanted with them. I thanked her and set them aside again. The very next day she called me and asked if I had decided what to do with them. I said no. She said, then I would like them back. I’ll give them to my son’s girlfriend when they get married. I’ll never make another set like them, they were fun, but lots of work. So I returned the 7 towels to her, with my original note which showed I had had them an entire year.
    So now I am happy and she is happy.

  11. I’ve always thought how difficult it must be to sort out all that stuff. The best thing you did was set up a giveaway column. I’ll be sending many things soon as I clean up my sewing room, I’m waiting for the really hot days of July to hit. Don’t feel bad about not doing what others expect of you, life is too darn short.

  12. I’d be inclined to return the beagle blocks to the very kind and generous giver and, given your explanation here in this blog post, tell her that if she’d like to make Georgie a quilt out of them, that would be fine. You just don’t have the time with all that is going on in your world.

  13. I agree with you. I wonder if you make the beagle blocks into a wall hanging for now then maybe one day Georgie will like it and you can gift it to her. You wouldn’t have to worry about the blocks getting worn or stained since it will hang on a wall. And you can enjoy it in the meantime.

    1. Hi Beverly. Thanks for you comment. The giver and I have talked. She was so sweet and I will be sending them back. She said she has a friend who makes pillows. It’s the perfect solution.

  14. Jo, I doubt anyone really minds if you don’t/can’t use the items sent for you. Our styles and preferences change over the years. Plus, as you say, you are only one person. I sent you some 1930’s print a couple years ago because you mentioned that you would like to make a quilt using those fabrics someday. But, if the mood has left you, please pass them on to someone else. Or, sell the lot on one of your auctions. It’s all good.

    1. Hi Donna…I do want to make a 30s print quilt. It’s on my bucket list. The fabrics are in a tote waiting for me. Thanks for being so patient. I really do think I will get to it. Right now other stuff is first. THANKS!!

  15. Susanne Scheurwater

    Wow, I certainly understand why you have made it clear to all of us the “no strings attached ” policy. I think we all need to manage our and others expectations and you have done it very pleasantly and tactfully.
    In regards to the Quaker pattern, perhaps looking up the pattern on a couple of shop sites will give you suggestions on the thread and colour choices. Enjoy your stitching so much!!❤️

  16. Wow! I totally understand the no strings attitude. Well stated on your part. Our to do list is way too long without others adding to it. It’s you do you time!

  17. Cynthia from SW Minnesota

    Good morning, Jo! Happy 4th of July weekend! I am thinking you could send the cross-stitched dog pictures back to the gifter as you won’t be doing them. Otherwise, once I give something away, the receiver can do whatever they like with the items, I usually give things to a thrift shop so someone can benefit from the items vs sending to a specific person, I felt you were being overwhelmed with generosity and that is why you made up your extensive list. You are a great steward and give so much to others. Thank you for sharing your life with us, I love reading your blogThanks for all you do for others.

  18. To me, this is a hard life lesson I have learned. We envision how a gift or even thoughts will be received and are so surprised when they don’t match what we were thinking. We either move on and learn that lesson or we ruminate on it and feel miserable. This is a very good solution for you. I really like that you have given a whole list of people who will gladly receive our donations. I am very careful about giving quilted gifts. So many people have absolutely no idea at all what goes into making quilts and may be totally not impressed. That is not a good feeling for the maker at all. I love it when people are impressed. Otherwise I will just love making for charity and imagine in my head how comfy they will be covered in warmth with a beautiful quilt. You do so much in your life and I admire you greatly! Thanks so much for your blog about all you do and sharing about your family. I so look forward to reading it!

  19. Once you gift an item, it is no longer yours to control. The recipient can do what he/she wants with the items. I often wonder when I gift a quilt whether the recipient is actually using it or what they have done with it. Do I ask? I never have and I never will ask, it’s no longer MY quilt! We all receive gifts that though they were given with good intentions, they just aren’t right for who we currently are. Move them along so they can find a place to call home.

  20. Do the Heart in Hand month pieces on 40 count with leftover silk fibers all on one piece of fabric. Would make a cute wall hanging on a narrow piece if wall. Also a small enough project for spare time stitching when kiddos are taking a nap.

  21. A gift is just that, a gift. Gifts shouldn’t come with strings attached. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think that you should auction off anything you get that you can’t/won’t use for postage money. Someone would enjoy the item and you’d have the postage money. Anyone who doesn’t understand the spirit of gifting shouldn’t give gifts. Happy 4th!

    1. Linda M White

      Now that is a great idea Pat! I also agree that gifts don’t come with strings attached. But the idea of putting gifts that one can’t use into the postage fund auction is great!
      I have been helped to send donations by the postage fund and I know how grateful I was that it enabled me to do so. I’m all in favor of more items for the auction.

  22. I don’t have a problem with that policy but I do hope you explained the situation with the lady who sent the beagle blocks before posting this. I too am reluctant to use a cross-stitch piece in a quilt and I know how many hours this lady must have put into making the blocks. Whether they were made specifically for Georgia or not I don’t know, but they were sent with good intentions.

    1. Joy, I did talk to the recipient. She is a sweetie. I totally honor her gift and the amazing hard work and time she put into it. I consider her a friend. We worked out a solution. Her gift was one of many I carry guilt over. Everything that is sent to me is sent with the kindest consideration. I am so blessed. My problem is that sometimes I just can’t use it all…or it’s not my style…or as in this case, I really didn’t think it was Georgie’s style. I didn’t think she is old enough to take proper care of such a gift that needs careful care to keep it nice. I would have hated for her to ruin the hard work on the stitcher’s part.

  23. First off good on you, Jo, for expressing your personal needs and your “new” policy when it comes to being gifted! Second, when there are strings attached to a gift it ceases being a gift and becomes instead an obligation. As unpopular as that idea or stance may be it is just plain truth. I do not understand people “gifting” with that attitude at all, I never have, even as a child. It just has never made any sense to me. Anyways….excellent information and well expressed. The very fact you have to write something like that up is kinda sad, though, really.

  24. What a difficult column to write and you did it so gracefully. I can tell in your writing that you faced a lot of angst. You are an amazing woman with loads of productivity. Life is short, life changes, our desires change and aren’t we glad for it? Sometimes the giver makes things and gets much more pleasure out of the making and giving than the receiver can possibly get from using it. I believe that with once gifted, it’s served 90% of it’s purpose. The remaining 10% is luck if it is used for its intended purpose and brings as much pleasure.

  25. Susan from Michigan

    Your blog is a gift to us and you share so freely. We really don’t know how much time you give for that and the charity quilt project. I have enjoyed reading your blog very much. Thank you!

  26. Linda, Had to do a doubletake when I saw your sister (passed away in 2020) was Linda M White! Thanks for the praise–once in a Blue Moon, I might have a good idea! Jo is such a giver that I just can’t understand how anyone could say a nasty thing to her! Have a happy 4th!

  27. Not on this subject but my garden is coming in and using the last of my yard sauce. Can someone repost the recipe. That stuff is so good. Just had chili from the last of it.

    1. If you can find the search box on the home page, you can type yard sauce recipe in it and find the post where Jo made it. Hope this helps!

  28. Kathryn Martin

    The Quaker Christmas II Sampler is pictured in those colors on the Silver Needle in Tulsa Website. Click on shopping, then products, then choose Samplers. Scroll down and you will see it. The folks at the SN might be able to help find out about the colors. I am in complete agreement with you on the colors- changing to the others would really seriously tempt me to sew it, but I have so many, many things in my stash.

    1. Hi Kathryn. I already contacted The Silver Needle but no one ever responded to me. Bummer. Thanks for thinking of me.

      1. Have you considered picking a few (3? 10?) colors you like, a few rules (all the song titles in color A, or not using the same main color on two adjacent motifs) then using dice to determine what gets which color?

  29. Judith M Fairchild

    My .omma taught .e that when you give a gift it belongs to the person it was given to. To do what they want with. I lo e given to people if I never see them use it I don’t inquire about it. Less stress and more fun when they say they lie it or display it . Jo, your post is great. Thanks for asking things clear.

  30. I think your policy is a good idea. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to write it and this post. Gifts don’t come with strings attached–they belong to the recipient to use or not use however they wish. The lady who gifted the beagle blocks is indeed a sweetie–I’m sure her understanding your predicament was a gift in itself.

  31. No one should be so specific as the lady was with the dog blocks. At the same time, you should not be over stress if things are used or not. I try to use what is gifted to me but sometimes it does not work out. Enjoy what you can.

    once it leaves my hands and goes to someone it is theirs and they may use it for T P if that is what they need it for. not to be ridiculous but you should not have been troubled with this. the only time i have questioned a friend i did not hear from was NOT seeking a thank you or justification for how the gift was usd was after a USPS challenge the previous birthday.

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