Crafting memory

I was not a crafty child.  Honestly, if you had told me ten years ago that I would love crafting this much I would have laughed at you.  I always hated craft night at Girl Scouts because I felt that my crafts never came out as well as everyone else’s.  My middle school art teacher told me that I had no discernible talent.  So maybe I was a late bloomer?  Or maybe I just don’t do anything in half measures.

Anyway… so I’m making a quilt.

But more on that in a moment (stare at the pretty fabric!)

I often hear other knitters tell stories about growing up watching their mothers and grandmothers knitting.  But, so far as I know, no one in my family has ever knit a single stitch.  (We did have a few crocheters, but no one in my immediate family.)  That’s not to say that they weren’t crafty.  My grandmother was a quilter.

I was to a large extent raised by my Grandmother, for reasons I won’t go into.  She was the sweetest woman you could imagine, but she had a backbone of steel – the many disappointments of life never fazed her.  For 26 years she was absolutely the rock of my life.  When she fell ill my junior year of college, I moved back home without hesitation, a decision I have never regretted.  She passed away 4 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her (and yet thank her for the strong woman I have become!)

She left me her things, and I have been trying, especially over the last 2 years, to slowly go through them.  It isn’t easy.  She saved everything, much of it for me, and I tend to get very emotional.    Going through boxes this week, I found a journal in her handwriting written about and to me during my early childhood, something which I know I will now cherish.

I also found (and this was the reason for the cleaning this week) her quilting and sewing things.  So much fabric… acres of dusty linens from the 50s and 60s, stored in cardboard boxes for who knows how many years.  I found a large packing box full of hand crocheted doilies, tea towels, and aprons.

I found a box marked Patterns that contains vintage sewing patterns, mostly from the 1960s.

I wasn’t even aware that she had sewed her own clothes, but the pieces on most of these patterns have been cut, used, and carefully replaced.  Some of them are in my size, and I plan to keep them around for later.

I also found several unfinished quilts, including this wall hanging:

I actually remember her working on this in the mid 1980s.   Much of the quilting is finished.   She quilted by hand, and she did teach me how.  I have always loved quilts, but hand quilting is really slow.  Every year I go to the state fair and stare at the quilt section with envy.  But this year?  This is going to be the year I relearn all these long forgotten skills.

I have picked a pattern for a small machine quilted beginner’s lap blanket, and I’m going to go for it (sewing test blocks now, it makes me happy that I remember many of these skills!)  My machine sewing is better that I thought – I got the special foot that helps you get a 1/4″ seam every time, and it is tremendously helpful!

I still find sewing clothing intimidating.  I got the SEW U book on the recommendation of the fabulous Robin of Yarn Crawl, and it has been tremendously helpful.  I like the way the author explains things, and between that book and the S.E.W. Workshop, I’m feeling more confident.  I looked into garment sewing classes, but unfortunately my working hours mean that none of them will work for me (this is usually the case for me with classes and knitting groups as well.)  I’m probably going to try making a skirt, since simple a-line skirts seem easy.  Maybe in this fabric?

I like to think that my crafty Grandma would be proud of me.  She certainly would have loved all of the colors and patterns I gravitate towards – where do you think I got my love for bright colors?  From my Grandma, who didn’t really believe that getting older meant you should fade quietly away into that good night.

Soon I’ll show you some of the wonderful vintage fabric of hers that I found – it’s all very dusty and must be thoroughly washed.  Opening the boxes gave me an allergy attack and a migraine last week.

So… that’s what I’ve been up to.  Lots of planning, lots of practicing.  I also cast on for Salina, but I’ll post more on that when I have more to show – it’s not the fastest knit ever, but it is beautiful!

Happy Halloween to you all – Marc and I plan to wait on trick or treaters, and have tons here, in such a dense area.  Halloween is very good for my business – parents see my sign, I give out my card, and usually I get a new student or two.

Here is a preview of Salina, looking very tiny to start.


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36 thoughts on “Crafting memory

  1. jane says:

    The quilt is going to be fabulous, and I think that fabric would be a great choice for a nice autumn-winter skirt, I can just see it with tights and boots.
    Those vintage patterns are nothing short of a treasure trove!

  2. Mary says:

    Hope you have a wonderful time making the quilt.

    Must say that your grandmother’s treasures triggered some memories for me, too, as the vintage patterns caught my eye. My mother made me dresses in both the McCall’s 8958 & 9071 back in the 60s. She was a superb seamstress and I always had the best clothes in high school (back in the days when you were not allowed to wear pants to school).

  3. Mary Barker says:

    Hi there. I want to send you a website you might be interested in about sewing. I am a long time garment sewer, but I rarely sew now having replaced it with knitting. Is there really time for more than ONE addiction? This is basically a chat site with TONS of topics, advice, pattern suggestions, and I hope you enjoy it. I just thought of another one as I type this – patternreview.com.

    So have fun – http://www.artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php

    Mary

  4. How wonderful! The quilt will be beautiful and I think a skirt is the best garment to start with. I look forward to seeing your grandmother’s fabrics, what a wonderful treasure.

  5. I just stumbled across your blog. This is a lovely post, I like hearing the stories behind people’s crafting. The fabrics you chose look great!

  6. Jennifer says:

    I too have fond memories of my grandmother and think of her daily. Your post made me cry since I too have shared these feelings. You are so lucky to have the items she so thoughtfully left for you. Enjoy!

  7. mick says:

    This is such a lovely post, Jess. It is so wonderful that you have many of your grandmother’s things. I didn’t get the chance to inherit any of my grandmother’s crochet/sewing things, due to family drama, but I do have a blanket she made me, and I completely cherish it.

  8. that’s so wonderful that you have all these cherished memories and crafting mementos of you grandmother. She must be so proud of you and your crafting abilities!!

  9. What a lovely, inspirational post. I bet your grandmother would be very honored and proud if she could read it. I gave up sewing 10 years ago on this very day. I had just completed two difficult costumes for my little girls who were then almost 5 and 2 and said I’d never sew again. This last summer the younger daughter, who is now 12, learned to sew and I got my sewing machine cleaned and spruced up and handed it over. Your post has made me want to sew something WITH her. No deadlines. No pressure. Just a kitchen table full of pretty fabric, some good tunes, and making memories. Thank you.

  10. I really enjoyed your post. Your grandmother certainly left you treasures. My work schedule prevents me from taking classes that I would like to take. Maybe when I retire?

  11. Hi there,

    I have been reading your blog this week, as I have just picked up my knitting needles for the first time in years. I enjoy it so much, and wanted to tell you that your latest post about your grandmother was so sweet…. My kids are very close to their grandma and grandpa, and for that I am so thankful. It is a very special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. Keep writing, keep showing us your beautiful work, (I love your blog!) and congrats to you in your quilting endeavor.

  12. What a nice post. :)
    Quilting is a real pleasure that I thoroughly enjoy, as much as knitting. Can’t wait to see your quilt from the lovely fabrics.
    Happy Halloween!

  13. Loved your post today! Your grandma sounds amazing and you seem to have followed in her footsteps of being a strong, creative woman.

    I also was not crafty as a kid – in fact I was “anti-crafty”. My projects always had too much glue and were a mess.

    Glad you are enjoying the Sew U book – I thought you might! Also I like your fabric choices for your quilt. I love quilts, so at some point, I may also try that hobby. I have a nice quilt shop nearby that has a whole host of different class offerings, but haven’t yet dug into that.

  14. You are so lucky to have been raised by such a crafty and loving Grandma. The fabrics are beautiful! What a great way to find so many treasures – in boxes. Your Grandma is probably watching over your shoulder as you open each box…enjoying every moment. :-)

  15. What a lovely post.

    I wasn’t close to any of my grandparents (my father’s parents lived in Israel and my mother’s parents were busy raising other grandkids). I’ve always felt the lack. I do have my great-grandmother’s sewing machine, which all the women in my mom’s family used for decades to make their own clothes, starting in the 1930s and ending with my mom. I have yet to learn to use it, but one of these years I will!

  16. Very touching, nice of you to share. I’m sure your Grandmother is beaming with pride. Good luck with your quilt and when you start feeling frustrated just think of your Grandmother, as you said she gave you your strength.

  17. I loved reading your post. Your grandmother would be so proud of you continuing her hobby! What a wonderful treasure to have all of her things. The colors you chose are gorgeous! I can’t wait to see the quilt completed!

    p.s. I just love reading your blog and your finished projects are so inspiring! :)

  18. Oh, what a great story. The journal of your childhood is such a precious gift. I’m also getting into sewing (but never did it as a child) and am finding it intimidating but fun. Can’t wait to see the fabrics!

  19. I’m new to your blog… I had to comment on this post. What a wonderful tribute to your Grandma… in words and it doing what you are doing craft-wise. I never knew my maternal grandmother, she passed when I was just a baby. But I believe that I got my craftiness from her… she knit, crocheted, tatted, sewed, painted… anything she wanted to do she had no problems. I really wish I knew her… I would have loved to sit and knit with her!

  20. Thanks for the wonderful post and photos! I’ve been following your blog for a while, and it’s funny to me how our crafting urges sometimes coincide (I just bought a book of quilt patterns and am thinking of starting one). The gifts your grandma left you show how much she loved you – I’m so glad that you will get to enjoy them, just the way she envisioned.

  21. Jessica says:

    Your excitement is infectious! I recently retrieved my sewing machine from my parent’s basement, but I’m only in the dreaming stage so far. No fabric, only books. I look forward to hearing about your adventures (will there be tea too?). Great fabric!

  22. As a 4th (probably more but it’s 4 that I know of) generation sewer/quilter/knitter I would like to welcome you to the club. I hope you enjoy the journey. I can’t wait to see what you do with the fabric!

  23. Lovely fabrics! Can’t wait to see your quilt. Your grandmother sounds like a lovely woman. Even if she didn’t knit, she certainly was a crafter.

  24. Both of my grandmas were crafty – quilting, knitting, crocheting, embroidery (by hand & machine), and sewing. I like to think I inherited their love of fiber. BTW, love your vintage patterns! So awesome!

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