Sunday, 11 July 2010

White on White

Staying at my grandfather's house in the deepest, darkest South of Italy, I came across this pillowcase, neatly embroidered with my father's initials. A subtle, textural rhapsody in white, it remind me of the work of Scottish artist Alison Watt.

It is probably the work of my great-grandmother (reputedly something of a difficult character) who as well as embroidering also crocheted fine lace bedspreads and table-cloths at a wrist-achingly small gauge. I love being connected to the women of my family through craft, though it does make me a little sad I didn't get to discuss it with any of them during their lifetimes (apart from my mum, a sometime knitter). I wonder what nifty embroidery stitches my Nonnina might have taught me, or what sewing trouble my Nonna might have saved me, or what knitting stories I could have shared with my Scottish granny. Could Nonnina Antonietta, a tiny one-woman doily factory, have helped me get over my profound stupidity at crochet? 

Apparently at my grandmother's death my grandfather found bags and bags of her unfinished sewing projects, which he couldn't bear to look at, and so gave away. I can well understand this, as I find these material mementos rather moving myself; stitched reminders or remainders of their creators.

Do you have any items that remind you of the crafty ingenuity of your ancestors? Or perhaps you were lucky enough to talk to them about it when they were alive? I'd love to hear people's stories on this.

1 comment:

  1. My grandmother hated sewing, so she made all 6 of her daughters learn so she wouldn't have to do it (Grandma's just a farmer's daughter in the end, and prefers to be outside with dirt under her nails). My mom and my aunts made all my Halloween costumes growing up, and my first communion dress, and my flower girl dress I wore in my aunt's wedding. That's a whole lot of smocking! I learned to sew as a kid, and I've been thinking about taking it up again. We used to have an old patchwork quilt that my great-grandmother made out of scraps of old clothes, but it's fallen to pieces now. The acrylic crocheted blankets are still around though. I'm the only knitter in the family; which seems appropriate, since I'm the odd one in the family anyway!


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