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Monday, November 26, 2012

What will you leave behind?

Last night I spent the evening going through six large boxes and totes of handwork from my family.  There were crocheted items, tatted items and quilts.  Beautiful works of love and talent.

And as I ran my hands over the fabric and thread that my grandmothers, great-grandmothers and even a great-great-grandmother had held in their hands, my mind was transported with memories.  These women had created these pieces from simple things:  white cotton thread and a steel crochet hook, fabric and a needle.  There were no fancy machines involved, just their hands.

I have vivid memories of my Grandma White.  She taught me to crochet and encouraged my other handwork.  I watched my grandma crochet, quilt and embroider with her fingers.  Her twisted, gnarled, arthritis-ridden ringers were laced with yarn, thread and fabric and still she created beauty in her lap.

My other grandma's passion was thread crochet.  And she was prolific and she was an artist.  Her stitches are tiny, so even, and so perfect.  She created tiny rosettes and made tablecloths and even a bedspread!  Do you know how many miles of crochet thread are in a bedspread?  I have stacks of doilies of all shapes and sizes.  Her linen embroidery is a work of art, I can only hope to one day embroider as well as she did.

I have two quilts from my great grandmother, my grandma White's mother.  And a quilt from a great-great-grandmother, my Grandpa White's grandmother.  They are beautiful pieces and I will share their story another time.

My mom and I talked about them on the phone and discussed each woman's quilting style.  Did you know that each piece is like a signature?  It's pretty easy to tell which relative made which item when you know their "signature".

These women have left behind pieces of themselves in this work.  They created something out of nothing with their own hands.  How many of us can say the same?  What will we leave behind to our children and beyond?  A list of blogs I read?  A full DVR of TV shows?  All of our friends on Facebook?

In this age of technology, the benefit is that we can "stay connected".  But I don't think emails or texts or any of that can keep me as connected to the generations of women who came before me as the piles of handwork that I held last night.  My girls, and their girls, will hold these same pieces and tell stories of their grandmas and their mother.  We will be connected in a way no smart phone can accomplish.


  1. My Grandma came every Wednesday for a year to teach my two older girls the art of crocheting. Not only did they learn a wonderful skill the time spent with her was priceless. Relationship and creativity always trumps technology. On a side note my daughter asked her father when she can get a cell phone, when your husband says you can , was his reply! Ha! ~ Jess

    1. That is an excellent reply!! Of course, my 12 year old niece has one....{sigh}

  2. I love this post. My great-grandma taught us all how to sew. We only wish we had the same gift for crochet but we treasure each piece and are amazed at the strength these pieces still have - the crocheted blankets each young one had and carried around as toddlers are still beautiful and continue to be passed down. My grandma and mom also each have sewing talents - my grandma with the hand-stitched designs and my mom makes the most beautiful dresses. I have tried to instill the importance of these pieces in my daughter and she always loves it when we pull out a special one and discuss where it came from. She already has a tub started (she's 9) of dresses my mom made for her to pass on to her children. It is important to pass down the stories along with the pieces.

  3. Always was considering, and well, i've been thinking for a long time of what I would leave in my georgia wills to my family. Thank you for the blog, and for inspiring to think more introspectively on my family. Thanks.


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