Textile Family Tree
It’s Mother’s Day! I would like to thank and honor the wonderful women who raised and influenced me.
My dad’s mother had seven children and something like 37 grandchildren and 73 great-grandchildren. She was always traveling and always creating something for us. I have a baby sweater and doll quilt she made for me, as well as 2 afghans she made for my kids.
On my mother’s side, there was also a very strong tradition of creating textiles. I didn’t get to see my great-grandmother and great-aunts much, but I always felt them in the background. I was surrounded by things they had made and by stories about them. In our family, you gardened, cooked, cleaned up, and then sat down with some sort of handwork while you visited. In any circumstances, the consistency of doing handwork provided an undercurrent of stability and comfort.
My great-grandmother could knit, crochet, tat, quilt, sew, and embroider. I have many pillowcases with her finely crocheted cotton trims along the edges. My great-aunts shared many of her skills.
My grandmother could embroider and sew but loved to crochet the most. We have a lot of her afghans. She also made crocheted animals for the kids when they were young, and now they crochet their own creatures, without even needing a pattern!
My mom also embroiders, knits, and crochets. She sewed many of my clothes as I was growing up, and more importantly, at least to me, she sewed my doll clothes. I loved to come home from school and see Barbie sitting there to greet me in a brand new dress.
My younger sister follows the textile family tree too. Her specialty is counted cross stitch.
I was slow to learn to sew, but I became the first weaver in the family back in the 70s. A few years ago, my mom passed on her sewing machine to me, and got me hooked on quilting. I use her sewing machine and my grandmother’s iron all the time.
In all of my textile work, I feel so connected to my family members, and the larger community that finds comfort and creativity in textiles.