It was a very hot day and this garage sale did NOT look promising: black plastic garbage bags on the driveway. But I peeked inside one and glimpsed a treasure-trove of crochet! Spools of thread, crochet hooks, marvelous bits and pieces and I soon had an armload. I approached the woman in charge: "oh, just give me $5 for it all."
It turns out that the old lady renting the upstairs apartment had died, and this woman (with a small child) was trying to clean it out. These plastic bags held a whole lifetime of handwork, being sold for almost nothing.
Usually, when I found crochet and lace, I washed it and sorted it out according to type - into the box of Large Tablecloths or Damask Napkins? Small Round Crochet or Table Runners? But I just couldn't disperse her work. So I tried one of my first experiments with Procion Reactive Dyes, and sewed this piece to honor her memory. The only key to her identity is a small photo locket sewn just above the crochet hooks.
This piece led to a whole series of what I came to call Biogrphy Quilts. When I went to garage sales (and especially estate sales) I started asking "who made this? What can you tell me about her?" When possible, I would use the pieces bought at that garage sale and any information to create a stitched biography of that woman.