Sunday, July 08, 2007

Stitching through the generations

Talking about my grandmother yesterday reminded me that I had been meaning to show some of the tablecloths she embroidered. No time like the present, so I pulled a bunch of them out of the cupboard and got my camera out. Now I should have got my iron out too, but it was way too warm for that, so they are a bit crumpled, I'm afraid.

My grandmother worked as a maid and housekeeper until she married. Later, after running a café for some time, she spent the rest of her working life at a small flower shop, making flower arrangements and wreaths until her fingers were too stiff and crooked for her to do that kind of work any more. She was always working extra hours around holidays so she didn't spend a lot of time cooking. Luckily she was married to a cook, so she didn't have to!

When at home, she was always cleaning though. And I remember having to wait for her on the steps while she cleaned her way out the door when we were going to har little house in the country, because she couldn't face coming back to a dirty house. And then when we came back, the first thing she would do was to grab a bucket and a floorcloth and repeat the process. Sadly, that sort of thing never rubbed off on me, but her way with a needle might have...

All the tablecloths I rescued after her death were well worn, and unfortunately most of them have stains that I have been unable to remove. I have been thinking of ways to display them or use them in other projects, but I'm not sure what to do with them yet.

I can't actually remember gran stitching anything this fine, her fingers were probably too stiff by the time I was growing up, but she would crochet delicate bedspreads and the like and later it was wool tapestries. When we were in the country house she would also weave rugs. When she wasn't gardening, working or cleaning, she was always working on some kind of craft. Like me, she "listened to TV", just glancing up from time to time to catch what was going on.

She always cheered me on in my craft efforts too and gave me tasks I was sure I couldn't do, telling me "you will find a way". When I was about twelve, she had me making new lampshades for their bedroom. I had to study the old ones to find out how to do it, and stitch the slippery, silky material on to them the best I could. The were not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but she showed them to everybody and kept them on the lamps in that bedroom until the day she died. Thanks to her I'm not afraid of trying new things - I hear her saying "you will find a way" and off I go.

Funny this. I was just going to show a few pictures of some old tablecloths, and it sent me down memory lane. I had forgotten all about those lampshades until I started writing.

I also found some tablecloths that her mother, my great grandmother made, but that's material for another post.


Anonymous said...

That's a lovely Grandma story. My Grandma Hattie Mae was like that- It skipped my Mom too! She is so very critical! unreal! Have you tried Oxi Clean? It works great with hot water- removes old brown stains and wine stains great! It's kind of expensive but worth it to restore your klinens. I use it all the time! Soak in the kitchen sink and if it doesn't work for some reason you can always tea dye them so that they are all uniformly brown! Happy Sewing!

Jan said...

Lovely, lovely post!
And that happens to me all the time...I start a post with one topic in mind and it turns into something else altogether. Usually better than planned!