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Carol van Evera was one of the first members of the B. 1802 Rural Artist Collective.  She was the one who first taught us about huck embroidery (Swedish weaving), and for years we worked with her to create our Beekman 1802 Picnic Blanket Throw and our Christmas Sampler Throw (which was featured in Country Living magazine).

But aside from her skill as a craftsman, what was most memorable for us about Carol was her work ethic.  When BLAAK cheese first hit and we had hundreds and hundreds of orders, it was Carol who said she would come in at 3:00 in the morning and package cheese so that it could be on the first mail truck out of town on Monday morning.    She would fly around the back rooms of the Mercantile with the single-mindedness of a worker bee, and she did this once a week for almost 2 years.  Whether she knew it or not, she was the embodiment of “Beekman”.  Like a homestead bride, a pioneer woman who knew how to get things done and do them well.  Because that’s just how it was.

Carol died of ovarian cancer last year.

One of those snowy shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when foot traffic in Sharon Springs is light, a young mom who had recently been transplanted to Albany from places out West stepped into the Mercantile.  Beekman employee #1, Maria, never to know a stranger, walked Henriette around the shop.  When they stopped to admire the Christmas Sampler Throw, Maria explained how it was the last remaining example of Carol’s work.

To Maria’s surprise, Henriette (a stay-at-home mom who manages a website called Etta-Made) said that she had learned how to do the weaving as a young girl while spending time with her Norwegian grandmother.

What are the odds of that?

When it came time to plan our wedding, we wanted the event to be a celebration of all of the people in attendance and not a focus on us.  And we didn’t want to give a wedding “favor” as much as a “thank you gift” for all of these people who helped nurture our relationship to this point.

I immediately sought out Henriette to make blankets for our guests.  She (and a good number of her family members) spent most of the Spring surrounded by yards of cloth.

Carol’s sister, Ellen, has long been the embroiderer at Beekman 1802, and she was on hand at the wedding to monogram the blankets for each guest.

After the wedding clean-up, I was carefully folding our wedding blanket to drape across the back of a bedroom chair.  As I stroked one of the hand-tied tassels, I thought about Carol.

She was so proud to make “something that would last”, and I am so happy to know that threads of Carol will bring happiness and joy to generations to come.

An heirloom friend.

 

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To see what Henriette created, click here

 

 

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  • By: Centralia Heart

    It is always sad to lose a friend. How wonderful that you have beautiful items to help her live in your memory. She will always be part of your life. Centralia

  • By: Shelly A.

    What a beautiful photo and tribute to your friend. I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you had a wonderful friend in Carol.

  • By: Joelle Greig

    I love the picture of the two of you on the picnic blanket, looking relaxed and content. However, I’m a realist. I know you both have your share of stressors you encounter when trying to keep your business fresh and fun. Know what? It’s working. I love visiting your website because of how unique and true it is. You’ve got quite the following as a result.

    Now, as a mom to 2 twenty-somethings, do not forget to take those picnics somewhere neutral on your beautiful property and enjoy each other. Your love and partnership will continue to bloom and just keep getting better. Love to you both, Jo

  • By: ally

    just love the two of you and your wedding was so sweet and simple and so laid back!thanks for being two of the greatest guys in the world,u guys make me smile !!thank you for for being yourself!!

  • By: Sandy S.

    I always look at pictures first (the child in me?) and love the photo of you both on the blanket. So peaceful, so charming… you always are. Then read your post. One of the things I love so much about both of you is your amazing connection to life, whether its about people, plants, animals, weather… This was such a beautiful tribute. The heirloom recipe I sent to you with the wedding congrats card was a tribute to my sister who passed away in her 50′s. This reminded me of her and made me happy that it was the recipe I chose to send to you. Thanks for always reminding us of what truly matters most!

  • By: Shari

    What an absolutely beautiful picture! It’s now my desktop picture. And thank you so much for writing such a touching tribute to your friend….it is as touching as this photo……

  • By: Dolores Gerber

    Thank you for such a beautiful and moving story about your friend Carol. It makes her come alive for us, who didn’t know her and keeps her memory alive for all who loved her!

  • By: jeda (jpdf)

    The idyllic captured moment at the end ties the lovely story of friendship… Thanks for sharing! :*

  • By: Jack

    I’ve heard a lot about carol but I never got a chance to meet her. Thank you for sharing such a touching story with us and keeping her memory alive.

  • By: northcountryrustics

    “She would fly around the back rooms of the Mercantile with the single-mindedness of a worker bee” reminded me of one of my favorite quotes… “Art is the Stored Honey of the Human Soul” ~ Theodore Dreiser. What a lovely way to remember the gifts she gave you when she shared her soul and her arts with you.

  • By: Linda Schnell- Leonardi

    When I was on line to pick up my favor, which I love, thank you so much, I started to chat with the women in charge. I told her how I guessed what the favor was going to be, based on that photo that you posted. I told her how I compared the photo to the blanket that I had purchased a few years ago at your store. I mentioned that it had the ” greek key” pattern around it. I told her how much I loved the blanket, and that with each washing it got softer and softer. I mentioned that I would now also treasure this new one that she was putting my initial on. Then she told me that her sister who had passed away had embroidered my blanket that I had at home. I told her that I was sorry for her loss. May Carol’s name aways be for a Blessing…..

  • By: LLColeman

    You moved into a wonderful community and Carol was an irreplaceable part of Sharon Springs. It sounds as though the creation of the Beekman brand and legacy began a new direction that has drawn new craftspeople and businesses to join in the town’s growth. As the changes occur, it is wonderful to look back to the early days and those who supported you; most notably an angel named Carol. Thank you for sharing this story.

  • By: Shelley Echtle

    You boys inspire my husband and I. (Remember, we are fellow goat farmers). We were so happy to hear of your nuptials, and if we could, we would have sent a gift already. However, my health has spiraled as of late. But not about me, but you two. Congratulations. We are so happy for you, and Yes, I saved y’all’s wedding photo. I mean, we goat shepherds have to stay together! Congrats!

  • By: Delia

    What a beautiful testament to your friend, Carol. So sorry for your loss. You asked readers to share a story of someone who left a mark on our lives., an “heirloom friend”. My older cousin, Ellen, was an “heirloom friend”. She lived next door to me in Milford, Massachusetts, in the fifties and early sixties. In the summertime, Ellen would sit outside and paint her nails. I was shy , but Ellen was so kind to me. Sometimes she painted my nails, too, and talked to me as if I was her equal. She liked listening to Elvis. I liked being in her presence. Shortly after Ellen graduated high school, she & her best friend got in a car and moved west to San Francisco. They loved the music scene, especially jazz clubs. She fell in love, married a wonderful Chinese man and rented an old Victorian on Castro Street. They had a loving interracial marriage that was tolerated in San Francisco, but frowned upon by some in our hometown. I was too young to fully understand. Ellen worked at an insurance company in the city and campaigned for JFK, Bobby, Harvey Milk Mayor Moscone, and others. She was extremely passionate when she worked on a campaign. Ellen passed away several years ago, but she left a huge mark on this planet. She taught me to be kind to shy, quiet children, and to engage in politics, even when it breaks your heart. Thank you, Brent, for reminding me of one person who left their mark. And thank you, cousin Ellen.

  • By: Parker Pressnell

    Fantastic story, I dream my pottery will be given to and handed down by people that love it as much as I love making it.

  • By: Susan Elwood

    Carol sounds as if she was a treasure.What a treasure she left you to pass down.
    Thank you for sharing. I didn’t know her but I my tears felt as if they did.

  • By: Claire

    “pinned” and shared! Love this story. Beautiful blanket!

  • By: Cheryl Koflan

    This story is just one of the reasons that both of you are so loved- not only by each other, not only by your friends, not only by an entire community, and not only by everyone near or far the world over… It is in the way you convey your stories and your messages, coming across to all persons in such a beautifully sincere heartfelt way. It is almost like there is an invisible aura that encompasses both of you in such a unique way that we all are touched and moved by all things Beekman… Both of you invoke comradery, passion, hard work, laughter, tears and joy and in doing so, make everyone’s day a little brighter and their smile a little wider. Thank you once again for sharing… You made the world a better place today as always- Cheryl

  • By: Beth Kiniry Snyder

    Carol was a great lady, she lived down the street from me. Always offering me tomatoes from her garden. She would come to Lee Publications and place ads and say I have tomatoes and would drop them off on my porch at home.

  • By: Linda

    What a beautiful story and told with such love and affection. Thank you for sharing.

  • By: Marie Fritz

    What a touching story. People come into our lives for a reason and many leave an indelible mark that can never be erased. The blankets are beautiful and glorious works of art. Mine kept me warm last night on the way home from Sharon Springs. The blanket makes me think of an amazing day spent with amazing people who I hope will be my Heirloom Friends – true gifts.

  • By: Joy

    Beautiful Story Boys! Thanks for sharing.

  • By: Liz

    Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • By: Sonja Norman

    What an amazing and treasured gift. Just beautiful, what will we leave? We have collected and shipped from Germany many things from my family there and depending of what is going in with our boys( being in the Military) when the time comes, everyone will have something special that will remind of relatives from across the pond.

  • By: darcell

    I am crying my eyes out. That was beautiful. How wonderful she came into the store and worked hard so people would get their products and be happy. Every package sent out of your store is such a gift and happy moment to the recipient when they receive it.
    Maria always sent me a little note with each purchase I made. What wonderful people.

  • By: Sue Wimble

    Wow, what a great story. Even in spirit, Carol wanted to make sure that this tradition was carried on and she sent Henriette to find you, I’m sure of it!

  • By: Katie

    What a sad, beautiful story and what a piece of fortune that someone came who knew the weaving style needed to recreate Carol’s work. Thanks for this.

  • By: helen@helenrogers.com

    Thanks for this loving story. I ordered a blanket the moment I saw it…and now this makes the blanket even more precious. Can’t wait to receive it and shall cherish it and think of my very own Norwegian Grandmother who was an amazing woman too. The photo of the two of you lounging on your wedding blanket is another keepsake.

  • By: Cathy

    What a beautiful tribute to your friend. And what a lovely memory or her so many of us now have. My Beekman wedding blanket will always be one of my most prized possessions – thank you!
    And I LOVE the photo of you and Josh sitting on your wedding blanket!

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