Sewing and Crafting Seem to Run in Families…
I am guessing that most of you quilters out there do more than quilt. Perhaps you knit, cross stitch, sew clothes, or perform other creative feats. I am also guessing that you grew up around people who also did crafty and creative things, even if they never quilted.
That certainly has been true in my family. I have shared some of my Great-Aunt Ebba’s work with you, as well as my own mom’s. I know that my paternal grandmother had a loom. Like many of you, I also sew clothes and occasionally knit, among other things. And I will not start on the cooking and gardening interests we probably all inherited as well.
With the holidays upon us, I took out my copious supply of ornaments. Unwrapping them, I was struck by how many were made by my mom or her sister. I have tons of Scandinavian ones, and many handcrafted ones from friends, but the ones that family made hold special meaning for me.
My Aunt Elsa loved to make things. She embroidered napkins and tablecloths, made fabulous padded hangers, and I have several small, stitched ornaments from her. But the Merry Christmas banner was her masterpiece, in my opinion. Actually, several times over, as I know that her children, grandchildren, and most of her nieces and nephews also received one of these special works from her. I think she made ten or twelve of them altogether.
That may not sound like much, but I recall her telling me that each one took nearly sixty hours to make. That makes these a real part of her legacy, something she has handed on to the following generations.
The Merry Christmas banners are simple in concept. Mostly created in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, they show the love of beads and sequins that was common at the time. Each letter is three by five inches, and they are strung on a six-foot ribbon. I have seen most of these banners, and no two are detailed alike–each was subject to her current mood and her sequin supply. The beads are hand-stitched on felt, and that piece was then stitched and glued to a larger felt letter, giving dimension and a big pop of color.
Every year, as I hang this on the wall, I think of Aunt Elsa, her sister Ruth, and of my mom Louise as well. I never knew their mother, but I suspect that she (and her sister Ebba) had a lot to do with inspiring this creative streak in Elsa, Ruth, and Louise. What a privilege to be able to hold and enjoy something that came from these ancestral hands!
I would love to hear about the special family-crafted holiday things that you cherish and display every year. Are there youngsters in your life who are learning to sew, knit, bead, or craft?
©2011, The Curious Quilter, thecuriousquilter.net, maryeoriginals.com.