Thursday, May 7, 2009

mother's day: grandmas & crafting

vintage threads from my Grandma's sewing basket!

when i think about my grandmas… i think of so many amazing qualities: they were loving, spiritual, courageous, strong, inspiring, talented, spirited women who i always admired, from an early age, and cherish somehow even more now that i’m an adult.

i was so lucky to have such wonderful women as grandmas.

i’ve been thinking much lately about where we learn our crafts from, and the beautiful, inspiring links that many handicrafts have to generations of women, in particular, passed on through families & friends.

indeed, my maternal grandma & crafting really go hand in hand for me.

she was amazing @ so many things in life. she really was. and my grandma was also an amazing handcrafter: she was a master @ handquilting, embroidery, macramé, knitting, photography, crochet, caning, woodworking and the list goes wonderfully on & on.

i have such fond memories of my grandma & crafting. she always had a few crafts on the go, a few projects neatly stowed in baskets around the house or in her lovely, sunny yellow sewing room. it was a treasure trove for me to see, on a visit, what she’d been working on….

she had 15 grandchildren, and over a period of 20 years, between 100s of other projects, she handmade all of us our own queen sized bedquilt, quilted in her perfect, beautiful handquilting stitches, on her grand quilting frame in their blue room! as each of us married, my grandparents would give us our special, beautiful quilt. i know each of us cherish that quilt we have! we’re so lucky! (you’ might be thinking: what if they never got married?! i thought it too! :) )

so as we approach mothers day, i think of the very special connection i feel with our mothers, our grandmothers, our family members, and the many women, like family, who have, for some of us, given us the gift of valuing handmaking, and in some cases, even the gift of teaching us our crafts.

i know it’s such a deep, warm and wonderful part of the handmaking community. last week, when the nice QYDJ article came out on Etsy– so many of you nicies dropped me a note or comment (that was so sweet of you! thanks!) – and quite a few of you mentioned, specifically, how kindred you also feel with your own grandmothers and crafting. how wonderfully entwined we are with the heritage of handcrafting!

so thanks to all of the grandmas and aunts, and dear family friends who have passed on to us their handmaking expertise & stories. and how wonderful that so many *traditional* handicrafts have seen such a resurgence of popularity! i know my grandmas would be so happy, and surprised, to see arts like knitting & quilting & embroidery as dynamos of the handmaking cyberworld!


do you have a grandma-ly or mother-ly connection to your craft or art?

i’d love to hear your story!

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  1. what a wonderful tribute to the women that came before you! my grandmothers were such amazing women and i miss them dearly. one grandmother was an fantastic cook and her family dinners were so special & memorable. my other grandmother was really a talented crafter, her crochet work was really beautiful. i have some of her blankets & dollies that i cherish. thank you for such a heart warming post!

  2. You're story is a great one, RR! You're Grandmas would be so proud of YOU!!! My Grandmother wasn't very crafty, but she was a wonderful baker. I learned so many recipes from her!

  3. Lovely memories rikrak!
    I still wear a pair of mittens my gram knit for me in my first year of college, they are getting threadbare but I cherish them.

  4. What a nice tribute, rikrak!
    My grandmothers were all very crafty, and my father's mother taugt me to knit and crochet. I also cherish all of the handmade heirlooms my sisters and I have of theirs!

  5. great story- rikrak! a nice little reminder.

    Fortunately, I have a grandmother who has filled in some pieces in my life that were a little bare.

    I cherish all she has taught me about being thrifty and crafty. She knits and used to sew & crochet. Whenever I go to her house I always have to have a peek at the crocheted afghan that her mother made so long ago. It is so special to have a physical object that connects you to a person who is no longer with us.

  6. Such a beautiful read rikrak. I too have a grandmother who handpieces and hand stitches a quilt for each of her grandchildren when they marry. It is one of the most precious things I own. It even has small blood stains where she pricked her finger while sewing. I've inherited all my sewing ingenuity from her and I owe to her my passion for creating a handmade life. Such a beautiful legacy. Thank you for your tribute!

  7. To this very day my Grandmother still makes quilts by hand, a fast fading tradition that is oh so timeless and beautiful. She has been a huge support and inspiration in my fact she taught me how to sew and is still teaching me when I have those random questions! I love her dearly and try my best to carry on her traditions in the things that I now create.


  8. Oh, yes, I do! My mom is an amazing watercolor artist, from whom I got my own talent. She made all my halloween costumes and Easter dresses, she was my art teacher, a ceramicist, she taught me to crochet...she just did it all. My grandmother is a great seamstress and painted a bit in oils, made teddy bears, needlepoint, drew a little and wrote a lot. These women have begun and carried on a legacy that I am eager to pass along one day.

  9. cute! one of my grammies is so not crafty - well maybe crafty in the scheming sense of the word. the other one used to chain smoke and make mittens. usually with the thumbs messed up because she liked the booze. hahaha.

  10. What a great post. From as long as I can remember, my grandmother and mother knit, crocheted, embroidered, sewed, made dolls and clothes,etc. I remember getting a knitting basket for a Christmas gift when I was about 10 and LOVED the present (I've recently asked my mom if it is still in her house somewhere bc I'd like to reclaim it). My mom and I started our sewing business together and while we do two different lines (my bags which are not posted to Etsy are under the label "Olive Street Studio"), all our baby items are under "Emilia Anne Designs" label.....Emilia is my maternal great-grandmother and Anne is my maternal grandmother....and we're a mother-daughter business. My daughter is almost 3, and she already loves playing in my sewing room - so hopefully, the business will keep on going. :-)

  11. From one grandma, I learned the delicate art of card playing. From my other gramma, I inherited my creative side. She was always cutting, gluing, and flower arranging.

    But what she really loved was making scaled miniatures. My doll house is full of her flowers, plants, toys, and furniture.


thanks so much for your comments, nicies!
it's a joy to read what everyone writes here.
thank you!