Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Grandma's Pearls...

As I've said before, my grandma was a talented needlewoman. My mom sews up a storm and can do lots of other things, but needlework (the fancy kind: knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, embroidery)? Nope. Not her.

None of the females in the family except me - I'm the only one who picked up a pair of needles or a hook and went to town. I guess I've always like things that you do while sitting!

Anyway, I have a bunch of Grandma's needles and hooks, and I was lucky enough to have some of her swatches, which I am going to frame in a shadow-box arrangement. There are bits of stitch patterns, one baby bootie, some edging - just things you could tell she was trying out.

(top) white pearl lariat; (bottom) pearl rope with multicolor thread
And her pearls. Grandma did these ropes -- oh, I don't know how long ago. But I am lucky enough to have them. And I wear them. And everywhere I wear them, I am asked about them.

And reminded again - whether in my own mind or in the comments of others - of how lucky I am to have them. And to have had her to teach me.

The top ones are probably my most favorite. It's basically an I-cord strung with tiny little seed pearls and it's a lariat: I can tie it wherever I want and wear it however long I want. It's beautiful with a sweater set, a suit or my black velvet dress.

The bottom ones I actually snagged from my mom; I told her that since I was still working, I could wear them (and I do) with lots of outfits. This one is a rope that Grandma did with the variegated crochet thread. This is something I usually wear doubled, but the other day, I tied two knots in the rope and it was quite pretty. I wore it with a white tank top and a tailored oxford shirt (in blue) that I wore open as a jacket, with black chinos. The blue of the shirt really picked up the blue parts of the thread.

I have no idea where she got the pattern or if she made it  up herself, which is entirely possible. She was surprised when I showed her the "front post-back post" pattern in crochet because she had been doing that for several years, and calling it a "waffle" stitch.

I have so many of her items: baby afghans for the two boys. An afghan I've been using for 30 years on my bed. Stashes of her favorite yarns. A bone crochet hook, a wooden crochet hook, and many of the aluminum and plastic ones. These teeny-tiny steel crochet hooks she used to use -- at least on the pearl ropes for sure -- but also on the dishtowel hangers you put on your kitchen drawers. She crocheted the tops for hers. She taught me that. She taught me to knit.

She taught me that with patience, you work one stitch at a time, and then you have a finished object that's beautiful and useful. For years and years, if you're lucky.

Akin to the poem about "I Had a Mother Who Read to Me" I am thinking "I Had a Grandma Who Taught Me Needlework." The skills she taught me got me through lonely times, depressed times, sick times...sad times.

While neither boy has decided to pick up needles of any sort (though they do mend - I managed to tell them it's a very "manly" thing to mend your own clothes!), they appreciate what I do and they've benefitted from it. Countless scarves, each one getting a hat this Christmas. One afghan done, another one a WIP. Hacky-sacks, if I can figure out the *^&% crochet for making a ball!! Juggling balls that they use to amaze their friends.

I think my grandma would love the fact that I am carrying on her tradition. I have the afghan for my nephew's baby on the needles already, and while Grandma preferred crochet over all the other forms, I'm knitting the baby stuff. And I think she'd approve. She'd have loved the car seat blanket I've already got done. And she'd love this afghan, the hat and the booties. It's amazing. She's been gone a year already, and I'm not sure where the time went. Truth be told, she'd have been over-the-moon with the announcement of the new baby. That would've made her a great-great-grandma. I hope she knows and I hope she's smiling.

If you're a grandma who does this, teach it to your kids or grandkids. If you're a kid or grandkid, learn. Not because celebrities do it.

But because your Grandma can teach you. You'll love it. I promise.

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