Remembering the ghosts that passed this way


There are ghost that visit the Thomas Griswold House in Guilford Connecticut. Let me share with you my story.

1During my recent trip to Connecticut I set out to solve a mystery. Over 10 years ago I drew a sketch in my journal that was later to become the inspiration for a hooked rug design. This drawing was of a tiny house that was the central motif on an old china plate that I saw in the Thomas Griswold House. However when I contacted the Guilford Keeping Society, no one knew anything about the plate.

DSCF1001I had made a note in my journal that confirmed the place and the date of 2002.

Living in Oregon made it difficult to research this further. But now my travels took me back to this lovely historic town, and I would go there and see for myself.


As soon as I entered this venerable house I felt a fullness of spirit, like a homecoming. I have often thought that I am a time traveller from another century, and so this deep resonance was not unfamiliar to me.

2The ways of the past came alive again as I wandered from room to room.


17Dusty spinning wheels stood patiently, as if waiting for wool and nimble hands to create yarn.


A timelessness came over me.



6No computers or cell phones or electricity. Only simple living. Life has changed so much. And yet we are the same tribe of people. Are these changes truly for the good I wonder? Are we happier? More at peace?


15As I take photographs I see my reflection in the glass. It strikes me that I look like a ghost.

7I come into the room where I saw the plate. It was in this cupboard as I remember. But it is not there! I feel disappointed that it is gone, and I look around the room to the left hoping to find it.

8And then I remembered that I drew another sketch in my journal. Across the page from the house drawing I drew a basket. It was from a motif on this mirror frame.

9DSCF1002This sketch became the basis of my Compote With Camellias rug hooking pattern. Such a fond memory of creating the design swept over me! I felt connected in some otherworldly way to these everyday objects. Details that were overlooked by many sang out to me.



10Another mirror in an adjoining room had a similar basket motif. Although I did not sketch this pretty design I must have kept it in my mind’s eye. It is so similar to my rug design.

As I took the photo, I was compelled to look into the mirror.

11Might I be gazing through time and space? Why is it that I am so drawn to these old places?

18Time is mysterious. And my story of the plate with the tiny house will continue to be a mystery. I hope that the future may unlock more secrets to me. For now the time has come for me to step outside again to my life in 2013.


I hesitate for a long while.

Thanks for joining me on my journey ~ Karen

PS: Many thanks to Pat Lovelace of The Guilford Keeping Society for her time and research.

Rug patterns mentioned in this post are Compote With Camellias and Le Petit Chateau, available through the Primitive Spirit Rug Hooking catalog available in my ETSY shop, or for your convenience below is a link to a secure server if you wish to order them with VISA or paypal. Simply click on the Buy Now buttons below. For orders outside the US, please inquire for shipping costs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbtn_buynowcc_lgCompote With Camellias,
24″ x 38″ rug pattern on linen, $68 + $6 s&h US addresses only



le petit chateau


Le Petit Chateau, 27″ x 39″
rug pattern on linen,
$81 + $6 s&h US addresses only


33 thoughts on “Remembering the ghosts that passed this way

  1. Is it all old houses that stir up your feelings or are there certain kinds of houses in certain parts of the country? Loved today’s post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the journey.


  2. I loved your post this morning and I, too, am drawn to older houses and their history. I built and fashioned my own home after visiting a historic house in Plymouth, Massachusetts. I feel a kindred spirit with historic New England and could not live anywhere else.



  3. Karen,
    When going through my new e-mails your blog is always saved for last as one would savor a treat. Thank you for your continued inspiration and whimsy. I too feel a time traveler whenever I enter an old home or space from history. Thanks for including the photographs. The walking wheels are identical to the one I have had for +/- 25 years and I’ve always suspected that it was from New England.



  4. Karen, if you look at the very first picture in your blog there are 4 very noticeable orbs present. If it is not this room where those circular stained glasses were hanging, then those would be spirits present in the room. I thoroughly enjoyed your post.



  5. Like you seem to do, I often look to the past for joy and inspiration. The beautiful things women of the past created, despite the restrictions and limits on their lives, provides endless iinspiration. Thank you for sharing this lovely home with us.


  6. Such a wonderful post! I feel very lucky to live in Connecticut and be surrounded by all the history here. It’s good to hear that I’m not the only that kind of feels “in between worlds” when visiting old houses.


  7. Karen, your journey through the Guilford house gave me goose bumps. Your thoughts were surely like a time traveler. For me I have always thought that I have one foot in the past, one in the present and my eyes to the future as if I don’t know where I belong. You have given me a lot to think about. Thanks for including us in your journey. Jeannette


  8. As a transplant from New England, I enjoyed your visit to this old house. My house back there was built about 1800, full of the spirits of generations before me. I sometimes felt it was haunted but in a good way.
    Polly from Colorado


  9. Good morning, Karen. Thank you for your inspiring blog. I discovered this morning you are from Eugene. Yay. I live in Albany, OR and am new at rug hooking…learning so much and so much to learn. I love it. I’m looking forward to learning about color/dyes. Thank you for creating and teaching and blogging! Blessed be, Beth


  10. Loved your pictures I too get the same feelings when I enter the past rooms etc I’ve always felt I lived during those times I’ve felt that way since I was a child. Could be that is why I love hooking so much.


  11. Karen, I always relish opening your email and reading your blog post. I am also drawn to old houses and old craftsmanship, especially needlework. Your photography is wonderful and your posts so insightful. This one was especially throught-provoking. I enjoyed it so much. Thank you.


  12. Your trip to the Griswold House–and more importantly, the sense of history and connectedness you write about–reminds me of a film I once shared with rural women of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan called “Anonymous was a Woman.” It traced the history of women, over generations, who stitched their stories, family histories, loves and losses into quilts. What a sense of connectedness your photographs tell of women, many generations ago, who, in their own personal ways, left their own personal mark to say “I was here.” Thank you for all your inspirations, present and past!


  13. So fascinating, love the old houses and the antiques that were in them….there is a comfort there, the quilts, chairs……thanks for sharing, Francine.


  14. Reading your blog struck a chord with me as I had just recently returned from
    visiting my daughter who is attending photography school in Mass. Deerfield
    village is only a few miles from her and so I took an afternoon to tour a few of the
    houses and Textile exhibit that is there now….I had the same feeling as if I belonged
    there…..I was almost in tears as our guide led us through the house…I wondered if I
    was sad for a former time ( although I don’t believe in reincarnation) or that my
    heart just has a strong yearning for a simpler time. I would love to be able to live
    that quiet simple life..and long for days without electronics and news of sadness
    all around the world…..Hooking takes me back and I love to hook to either classical
    music or soundtracks from movies like Lincoln, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice.
    It makes me feel like I am home ❤


  15. Pingback: Some highlights from the past | primitivespirit

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