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.
To see what Henriette created, click here