Thursday, February 7, 2008

Preserving the past.

I decided to stop at the antique shop today before picking N. up from school because I wanted to find a doily to put on my black table. I love that the table looks like it's seen some life, but the top is a bit damaged. I don't want to refinish it, so a doily seemed like the perfect solution. Plus, I thought it would go well with the blue vase I bought the other day.

So this is the one I found. It fits the top of the table pretty well and is in good condition other than for a small tear in the upper left corner.

I think it looks good in its new home.

I spent a little bit of time looking at all the doilies, dresser scarves, and pillow cases that women had embroidered over the years. It brought back fond memories of my grandma. She made all of these things and displayed them in her home.

In the bottom drawer of the dresser, there were lots of old pillow cases. And underneath them all, I found this sweet needlepoint on linen. I just had to bring it home with me. It made me feel sad to think that someone put so much time into stitching this only to have it end up being stuffed in the bottom drawer of a dresser in an antique mall.

At some point I'll frame it and hang it somewhere in my house. I'd like to think the person who stitched it would be happy to have it displayed in my home.

When I went to the register, an older lady was there. We struck up a conversation. She told me she knits blankets for her grandchildren and gives them their blankets when they graduate high school. She has 16 grandchildren and is halfway finished with her blankets. Three of her grandchildren will graduate in 2010, so she has to get moving on those. What a great heirloom she's giving them. I told her about the stockings my mom makes and felt pretty lucky to have such a great heirloom myself.

When I got home I was feeling nostalgic and remembered I have a pillow case that my grandma embroidered. It's hard for me to imagine embroidering all of our pillow cases. My mom said the first time she had pillow cases that weren't embroidered it seemed very odd.

While talking to my mom on the phone this evening, I learned that these hotpads I have were made by my great, great grandma. She covered milk tops with aluminum foil and then crocheted over them. That was during the time when the milkman came to your door to deliver your milk. She was probably in her 80s when she made these. She lived to be 96.

I also learned that my great, great grandma came to the United States from Ireland and was later relocated to Wisconsin on one of the orphan trains when she was about 10. No one knows much about her family or how she was orphaned. This was the first I'd heard of the orphan trains. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been.

I'm happy to have these items made by women in my family and other women who worked hard on their crafts.

I hope my beadwork never ends up in the bottom drawer of a dresser in an antique mall.


Jonara Blu Maui said...

I used to collect doilies and lace..and the same thoughts always went through my mind...what kind of life did these have? Why did they end up unnapreciated at some thrift shop? My grandmother on my fathers side used to crochet doilies..I have one from when I was little and a couple from after I was married. I can't see ever getting rid of them.

Your pictures and cool finds make me want to go shopping with you lol!

Jonara Blu Maui said...

OH! and I forgot..thank you for the nice comment on my mentioned making an anklet in those colors..I have done that too! It's my best selling anklet...I love it and I'm not really a pink person..even though my avatar shows me with pink feet ;-)

jessi said...

what a great post - such great stories and traditions!

iSew said...

Wonderful, I especially love that doily. I used to make them, but haven't in a long time. In Anne of Green Gables they talk about having lots of doilies when you get married, I'm afraid that tradition will pass me by.

Sarah and Jack said...

I bought some pillowcases at a yard sale last year, and the older woman who was selling them to me told me that they had been a wedding gift, back in the day when *everyone* embroidered pillowcases to give you when you got married. Can you imagine?

Melissa said...

Love this post - we should all appreciate our handmade family artifacts and heirlooms so well. I have stories from knitters and potters being frustrated that family members never appreciated the things they made, and time-consuming beautiful things would end up in their relative's garage sale bins for a buck fifty. So sad.

~ Junkyard Jennifer said...

I treasure other people's handmade items too. I nab crocheted and hand-knit baby sweaters any time I see them when I'm out garage sailing. Same with hand embroidered pillow cases. It makes me kind of sad that they get tossed aside so easily, when you think of all the hard work put into them! :)