I seem to be the curator of all the textiles in our family (and also the antique photos and other historical family memorabilia. Please don’t ask me why I have Grandpa’s tax files from 1968. I truly don’t know. Furthermore, I don’t know why I keep them.)
This blog is not about my mother-in-law who in her own right was a spectacular quilter and craftsperson/artist. I do have some of her quilts and have already informed my 13-year-old son that if he ever decides to get married, if his bride-to-be does not lovingly cherish family quilts and heirlooms, then she’s simply not the girl for him. No pressure. My first-ever blog post was about my mother-in-law.
The cedar chest in our bedroom holds treasures from the beautiful, meticulous and patient artist-women who came before me — the women who taught me to use my hands to make things.
I literally have hefty-size bags full of handmade doilies, table runners and dresser runners. Grandma was the expert, but my mom made them as well
A friend of mine referred to it as tatting. I don’t think it’s exactly the same, as my family never ever referred to tatting…they worked exclusively with a teensy crochet hook for hours, days, months, years. I believe tatting sometimes requires something called a shuttle. A word of caution: when you google tatting, you can expect to learn about the tattoo process. Oops. Try lace tatting instead.
Anyway, the most impressive piece I own — to me,at least — is the tablecloth handmade by my grandmother.
It fits the standard kitchen table. But that’s not the most endearing part. It comes complete with a few gravy stains I can’t seem to remove. But that’s not my favorite part either. My favorite part is that at one point she apparently ran out of one thread color and finished it in another. Mom told me that Grandma finished the last bit of it in white, which you can clearly see in some of the photos.
I love this.
Upon closer examination, I think she started in white. And then changed her mind about the color, just judging by the way it is assembled. She switched to a taupe — apparently she had a lot more of that thread. Or maybe she really did run out at the very end. If you are a craftsperson, you know this feeling. For heaven’s sake, I’m almost done, who cares, this is fine.
I’m so glad this happened, because I’m not sure I would have believed that a human being actually created this. It is meticulously stitched in some of the tiniest little crochet stitches I have ever seen. And I am trained enough to recognize crochet stitches. Of course, I saw Grandma working on things like this, but when you’re a teen, it hardly makes it onto your radar.
These days, I’m awestruck by its beauty.
My mom made beautiful works of art in yarn. She was a master knitter, at least until she had a stroke 15 years ago. While I love the yarn, I have no space for all that, so my sister will have to pick through it.
I, however, poured over her sewing notions.
In the last few years, she made little homey decorations for the kitchen.
The trim says charming things like “You are the apple of God’s eye,” and “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
I’m not ready to let any of this go. The women who came before us had real lives of creation, sharing, loving and giving. We honor them by appreciating their handiwork. All handmade. All the time.