14 December 2007

More Handmade Holiday Items

This year has taught me a lot about appreciation, genuine concern, the importance of family and several other large life lessons. This holiday season I wanted to make something to gift to family members that sort of embodied the ways in which I've grown. I made patchwork scarves. The two brown cordaroy ones are for my brothers. They lay next to five linen scarves. The first two are for my sister and mother and the middle three (that match) are for my sister-in-laws.

They were sewn on my maternal grandmother's machine using my mother-in-laws thread. Both women have passed away.

Mary, my maternal grandmother, was a factory seamstress during her working years. These years were long before I knew her but pieces of her career were sprinkled throughout the house that I visited as a child. I remember stacks and stacks of receipts and craft items. She was very proud of her New Home Memory Craft 8000, which in the 80's when she purchased it, the top of the line embroidering machine. My mother picked up the craft and passed it on to me. I think that it was more intuitive than actual teaching. Each of us using the same skill set to express our own personalities and tastes. For many reasons, I resisted, for all of my life, having a relationship with this woman and it is only in her absence that I notice the impact that she has had not only on myself, but also other branches on my family tree.

Elizabeth, or Betty as her family and friends called her, was George's mother. She was taken from this world by the disease that ravages so many American families, cancer. Although I only know her through the photos and stories of her wonderfully loving and dedicated husband and children, I feel close with her. She was an amazingly strong willed woman. Independent and strong. Her warm smile greets me during every visit to Pop's house. The scarfs were sewn with thread from her machine. After George and I married Pop gave me the most beautiful green Singer machine. Because the world is now made of plastic, I have never worked with a similar model.

Mary and Elizabeth have touched our lives in various ways and it is that love that I sought Ito honor by crafting the scarfs. Hopefully having this item, worn close to the heart, will remind my family of the love they feel for these women and the very individual ways in which their lives were touched, shaped, molded and changed at their hands.

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