When I think about my great-grandmother, I think of these three things: tatting, quilting, and canning. She lived in a rural Illinois town and lived through the depression. She had a make-do-with-what-you-have attitude, and did not buy something unless absolutely necessary. She kept a large garden into her 90’s and canned vegetables and homemade jellies. Elderberry jelly was her specialty. I still cannot find one that tastes as good as hers. Sadly, we were separated by a distance that made it hard for me to see her often enough. Even though she died when I was in my 20’s, I did not learn these skills from her.
I do not remember seeing my great-grandmother being idle. when she sat, she was seated at her quilting frame or tatting. When I grew up, I had a quilt she had made on my bed. I had another that was a gift when I was born. Sadly, the one from my bed was old and did not survive. My baby quilt was made from fabric that is at least 70 years old and is very delicate; the edges are frayed and the print is very faded, but I still love it. Before she died, she spent several years tatting a very large table cloth that was absolutely beautiful. She had cataracts then, and her eyes were not very good, so there were some flaws. This beautiful tablecloth is MIA.
I very much wanted to learn these skills that neither my grandmother nor mother had learned. My great-grandmother had passed away before I learned. My husband knew of my desire to learn to tat, so he even purchased my first tatting shuttle on Ebay as an encouragement for me to learn. Several years ago I found a stitching shop that offered tatting classes, and I was so excited to learn. My sister Pink also took the class with me, and we have been “mad tatters” ever since. The above picture is a sampling of some of the doilies, bookmarks, and Christmas ornaments I have made.
I really enjoy tatting, it is quite relaxing. I enjoy being able to create something beautiful out of something as simple as thread. I enjoy being part of the history of lacemaking which stretches back centuries. I enjoy mastering a domestic art that reminds me of my great-grandmother.
I also learned to hand piece and hand quilt, although I have not done a lot of it. I do not have a sewing machine, but I do want one. Then I would like to do the piecing by machine, but still quilt the top by hand.
Today, I read in Tammy’s post about how to make strawberry jam, and it inspired me. Canning may be in my future yet…