Do you like writing bread-and-butter thank-you letters? If you're like me, when you were a child your mother constantly said, "Did you write that letter?" -- and the answer was always, "No," spoken with a great feeling of guilt. But here's an original idea that actually makes letter-writing fun. It's bound to please the recipient and commemorates an occasion, all at the same time.

Write a letter in needlework. A friend of mine, a grandmother, proudly displays two pillows at the head of her bed worked in brilliant colors. One is a thank-you letter from her 10-year-old granddaughter. The other represents the envelope complete with the stamp, and her name and address -- all in colorful cotton on white linen.

To begin, find some pure white linen or cotton fabric and, with a Trace-Erase pen, outline the rectangle of the letter in the size you want. Now, you may think to yourself, I can write on paper, but on cloth my letters will waver, and the result will be kindergarten stuff. Well, here's a way to overcome that. Buy four artist's stretcher bars from the art store. Put them together to form a rectangle. Then stretch your fabric tightly into position, so that is as stiff as a board, using a heavy-duty stapler. You will find you can write on this firm surface exactly as if you were writing on notepaper.

If you use a Trace-Erase pen, you can eradicate your markings with a drop of cold water whenever you need. And all kinds of personal illustrations in your letter.

Make your finished letter and envelope into nice, soft pillows, without boxing or piping. Keep your stem stitches smaller on the curve, longer on straight lines, with the thread held always to one side of the needle. With really tiny lettering, use back stitches for legibility. Your family and friends will appreciate your original reminder of that very special occasion.