When September rolls around every year, my thoughts always seem to wander back to the days growing up with my grandmother. September is her birthday month and the time I seem to miss her the most. Christened "nama" by my oldest sister who couldn't quite pronounce the hard 'gr" in grandma, she was forever known in our family by that affectionate name.
We had such lovely times, she and I, during the summer weeks spent at her house. My oldest sister, being 10 years older, was 18 and going away to college when I started going and my older brothers had no interest. My younger sisters were 2 and 5; way too young for overnight visits meant to be anything other than babysitting. But I wasn't there to be watched...I was there because I wanted to be. It was something special that only she and I shared. Even when my sisters were older, they never had any interest.
(My grandparents and all six grand kids. I was about 8 in this picture and just started going for overnight visits at their house.)
I remember every detail like it was yesterday. Sitting close to each other on the porch gilder, separated only by a colander, snapping ends off just picked green beans from the garden and then snapping them into bite size pieces. Snap..snap..snap... ends going back into the bowl and beans in the colander to be washed for supper or canning the next day. Over and over, we'd snap with a tiny push of her toe on the porch floor to keep us gliding gently back and forth as we worked. I remember dinners of thick chicken and dumplings, iron skillets pulled from the oven with gooey glazed donuts for breakfast, and the bottom shelf of her fridge door always lined with cold coca-cola in slender green bottles. The best grapes vines around that produced sweet grape jelly always put away in used glasses topped with a thick seal of paraffin wax. The trips up the road to visit the Woolworths five and dime store for supplies. Funny how I can remember it all like it was yesterday. I explored every nook and cranny of that house and still remember every square inch.
Nama taught me everything I know about sewing and needlework. She's the reason I crochet left handed. I know I've told this story before, but some may not have read it so bear with me. After hours of trying every way she could think of to teach me, the righty, I grabbed the needle in my left hand and said enough, just show me what to do. It took about 5 minutes and I was crocheting. We moved along to Huck toweling later, making a visit to the very old downtown JCPenny's to buy new toweling. Together we sat at the kitchen table as I worked on a set of Christmas place mats for my mom. Later she taught me crewel embroidery on lovely pillows that were used in her living room. Big thick blossoms and leaves sewn with large needles and thick crewel thread. Sadly, the one thing I never shared with her was quilting. She had made quilts in her teens but never discussed it and I was not a quilter until long after she passed away. I think she would have loved my quilts. It would have been another thing we could have shared.
In June, I came across a give-away featuring several lovely embroidery transfers as the prize. Just seeing those flooded my memory with all the wonderful Days of the Week towels that were used in Nama's kitchen. I had forgotten all about them. She collected these and made them herself when she had the time. I don't remember a towel in her kitchen that didn't start with a bit of stitching. I didn't win the give-away, but I was now determined to find some of those patterns. Luckily I quickly found a great online site that also turned out to sell the heavy feed sack towels too. I quickly picked out a few patterns and ordered 15 towels. Once they arrived, I was all ready to start...then I got worried. Could I still do the work she taught me? I know I do loads of stitchery, but always with a thick piece of batting behind to hide my flaws. Now the back would right out there for all to see. I got intimidated and let them sit. I asked questions of experts and watched videos of stitching how-to's, but still waited. Then a few weeks ago I realized September was approaching..her birthday, and thoughts of her flooded back into my head...and I relaxed. Out came the towels for a good washing and the first pattern was chosen to start sewing. After a few cautious stitches, I was having fun. It took longer than normal since I was being so careful and re-learning, but I really do love to do stitch work.
I thought I'd show you the first one. Friday's little dancing sugar bowl. I think if you love your work, and do your best, the back isn't as important as having fun. I had to realize that it's going to show on the back, but you try to be as neat as possible. The videos and techniques at Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread really do come in handy. I didn't include a picture of the back, but I will if anyone asks for it.
I working on the next little guy right now and thinking of ideas for a Christmas DOTW design for another set. It's been a pleasure working on these with my grandmother, I feel her all around me guiding me as I work. She was a fabulous woman who taught me more than she will ever know.