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.