Last year we had a women’s night in my family. My sister and I, along with our children, had gone to visit our aunt and our cousin was also there with her daughter. As our grandmother has recently passed away there was a lot of talk about her. My grandmother loved children and was an excellent grandmother. Growing up in poverty she was taught to mend and make do and after having spent her life as a housewife she was quite competent in cooking, crafting and baking. I tried to figure out the secret behind her beef stew, the best one I’ve tasted, we were taught the family recipe of Christmas Gingerbread cookies, if we wanted to try the loom she would take it down and prepare it for us, she would knit sweaters for us and she would play with us. My aunt commented that she saw people and acknowledged them.
Another thing we talked about was her attention to detail. Her baking was always precise and meticulous, she spent a lot of time following patterns, making sure the loom was properly threaded, learnt macramé, studied new techniques to get better. When learning this I felt that I had been a bit haphazard in my sewing; taking shortcuts, not paying attention to fabric recommendations etc. Apparently my grandmother had a saying that “no one sees the time you’ve put into something, but they do see how precise you were doing it”.
In her later year she got into quilting. One of her masterpieces were hung up in their summer cottage. When we cleaned the cottage for sale earlier this year I took some pictures of the quilt as it exemplifies my grandmother’s meticulousness and puts her wordings above into action.
Look how precise! This is quality work right here. This is work that has been done with the result in mind and not worrying about how long it will take. Cutting all of those squares, sitting for many, many hours stitching them, by hand, in order to make that quilt. I’m impressed with how she has worked slowly and methodically, not rushing, placing one patch after another onto the quilt and that her methodical work shows in the final creation.
This past year I have tried to channel my grandmother in my work. I have tried to slow down, taken time for each step, read the instructions thoroughly, study steps I’m uncertain of, work on finishing, fitting, stopping when tired and I feel like my approach to sewing is different now than it was in the beginning of this year. So in the future I will take my time, honouring my grandmother while doing it.
What has your heritage taught you about your hobbies? How do you reflect upon it? Do you come from a line of crafters or are you “the missing link”?