(Thank you all so much for your lovely comments about the cardigan. Each and every one made me smile.)

When I came up with this post, and took the pictures, I had a lot to tell you about rushing to try and get the border done on my shawl, making hugely noticeable mistakes, and having to rip it out.

And getting so frustrated that I had to cast on for something else or I’d lose my mind.

And taking the border nice and slow, and being thrilled with the results, even if it’s going to take another week or two to complete it.

But instead of talking about any of those things, let me tell you about my father’s mother, Lois.

In the way of things in (poor, rural) Maine, all of the women in my family were avid crafters. I got the knitting bug from my mother, and my mother’s mother’s craft of choice was crochet, but all of the women could do everything. Lois could knit well, and crochet well, and cross-stitch, but her passion was sewing. She made lots of clothes for me and my cousins, she made quilts, she made stuffed bears with movable heads and arms, she made my prom dress, she made my wedding veil.

I inherited my perfectionism from her. Everything she made was flawless, even my first quilt (badly pictured above). She patiently guided my clumsy hands on the machine, showing me how to create straight seams and graceful curves. We spread the filling and backing out on her living room floor and cut it together. I was the only grandchild to really get interested in crafting, and it created a bond between us. When I picked up knitting in earnest after my mother died, she gave me supplies and patterns for knitted dishcloths as good quick beginner projects. I still have several that she made.

When I was a child, I liked playing in her sewing room almost better than anywhere else in the house. An old couch was lined with bears and other animals she’d made, the closet was full of fabric, and the noise and smell of her sewing machine (always running, it seemed) comforted and soothed me. As she worked, she would tell me what she was doing and show me how to pick seams, cut cloth so that it wouldn’t fray, properly stuff an animal, hem pants, anything.

She was strong, opinionated, stern, and caring. My mother may have helped me understand the joy of crafting, but Lois helped me understand pride in a well-finished object, that hand-crafted items could be heirlooms, that process and product can provide equal joy. I owe a lot to her, and I will try very hard to be worthy of her sewing machine. She’ll be sorely missed.

11 thoughts on “Instead

  1. What a lovely memory of Lois. Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a wonderful dedication to Lois! I too had a Crafty Guardian Angel (my Great Aunt Evelyn), though she was not opinionated or stern, just sweet and a constant supplier of guidance and Fudgies. I love how crafts can form a bond between the generations. I hope I can have that as my legacy too.

  3. I had a Grandma Lois, too (my mother’s mother). Thanks so much for sharing your memories with us!

  4. This is a beautiful tribute, Amy. All of my love to you and your family.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a remarkable woman. You are already doing a wonderful job of honoring her memory.

  6. Although my grandmother taught me to knit, I didn’t know her well. But I feel that my skill is her legacy, and I somehow have the feeling that she knows how much she enriched my life. Your tribute to Lois was moving, and it made me think of my grandma, Dora. But, consider too, how happy she must have been to see your interest and development.

  7. How lucky to have a Grandma Lois. Both of my grandmothers knit & crocheted, but both lived too far away for me to absorb any kind of craftiness from them. How nice for you to have both the memories and the physical artifacts of her presence.

    The chevron lace looks great–that’s a killer color.

  8. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  9. lurker revealed!

    what a wonderful legacy the women in your life have left behind! Thank you for sharing those inspiring memories

  10. Thanks for sharing your story–so nice that a part of her lives on in you.

  11. Thank you for sharing your memories of Lois. How lucky for you to have such a great teacher. She too must have been proud and happy that her knowledge and love for crafts found such a talented student.
    In my family knitting has always played an important role for the women on my mother`s side. When I was learning to knit there was always either my grandmother, my mother or my older sister to help. We carefully keep the hand-knit lace inherited from generations before. Some of the items are more than hundred years old. I can only imagine Lois` hand-crafted items will be cherished like that. The vail must be a true heirloom treasure.

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