Thursday, September 10, 2009

Making History

My Creative Space

Seasonal changes often spur me on to organize, rearrange, move the furniture and generally cause the other inhabitants of the cottage to shake their heads in consternation. Today, I set about taking on the daunting task of going through my ribbons, trims and lacy bits. These things were all crammed and confused in the bottom drawer of my old dresser in the studio, making it quite a pickle indeed. I began sorting and untangling, overcome by the ungovernable task - I was just on the verge of throwing in the tea towel and calling it an exercise in futility. It was then I came across a small tattered unmarked box. Hmmmm, 'what's this?' I wonder. Inside was a length of lovely hand crocheted lace in spotless cream. A small note accompanied it, written in that sweet old fashioned ladies penmanship. The lace was a little Christmas gift to my grandmother, Harriet, from an old friend. "It's just a bit of crocheted lace to fit a 42 inch pillow case," the note rhymed. The note was dated 1947.



I remember, just after my grandmother died, my mother and I spent a harrowing week going through my grandparents house, sorting decades of stuff that she had accumulated. While much of the questionable items went into a garage sale, there were precious things given to family. I was happy to take home all the vintage lace trims I could find. Oh, how I love the vintage!

So, as I was doing my own sorting, I thought about my grandmother and her friends, my great grandmothers and their friends - coming across more antique lace, hand tatted intricacies, unfinished crochet and other little pieces of the past. I imagined their hands moving in rhythm, creating... making history. I carefully washed some of the stained pieces and hung them on the line to dry. As I did so, I was thinking - I am touching my history, generations of women from my family have made these beautiful things with their hands. Certainly, there are some bits that I have picked up from garage sales or second hand shops; I thought about those unknown women as well, how I am now connected to them, albeit in this tiny way, to their history.


It is no wonder to me, that we seem to be experiencing a renaissance of the handmade. In a world of disconnect, of automated options, of self-serve, of the disposable...there is a need to connect. When I receive something handmade, I feel connected to the maker. I can imagine the time and care (the heart and soul) that went into it's making.

In the back corner of the drawer, crumpled and stained with age, is an old 'Red Rose' flour sack. Inside there is an unfinished blouse, also yellowed and stained. It was made by my great grandmother, possibly 100 years ago. I never met her, I don't know much about her but, I can imagine her. She is sitting in a room, needle at hand, working the thread through the fabric. She does beautiful work. She sews from necessity still, she takes pride. She has looked up for a moment and pricks her finger, staining the collar. The blouse gets put aside, forgotten. Somehow this discarded or forgotten remnant has made it's way to me, has remained when so much has been lost. I love it, it connects me to her and to myself.



Now, at the end of the day, the ribbons remain all 'a-tangle', the trims are staging a coup, and little 'organizing' has been accomplished. I tell you what though, 'I've lace on the line under the last of the summer sunshine' and I needed this more than I can tell you. I feel humbled and tired and so good. I needed reminding and maybe a little whisper from the past. I needed to connect.

Now, go connect with the creative souls over here!

29 comments:

June rhymes with moon said...

Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing these :)

Janelle

Brigitte said...

What a beautifully written post. I too feel so connected to people when I receive handmade gifts and pieces my mother and grandmother have made. :)

So I'm Brigitte by the way. You visited my blog Cookie & Nonsense today and left a sweet comment. Thank you. I was so excited because I knew right away that Lola Nova was from the blog Whatever Lola Wants and I've been blog stalking you for awhile! haha. Ever since you were featured on One Pretty Thing I've been following via Google Reader. I just love your blog and I'm so excited you are opening an Etsy shop! And I'm glad you decided not to change your name. Lola Nova is perfect. :)

Well...Thanks again for visiting my blog - I feel like I've just met a celebrity.

{sorry for the super long comment.}

tea with lucy said...

Wow. What an amazing post. Gave me spine tingles.

I feel the same way about my vintage pieces. It gives me comfort that there are people around that appreciate the sense of history contained within.

Lovely to "meet" you.

Alisa said...

How wonderfully romantic! Fabulous post!

Karin said...

What a lovely post you wrote. I can imagine you were excited finding all these treasures again. Thank you for sharing with us.

Green Martha said...

That blouse is a beauty ! It does look like it dates back from the first decade of the 20th century. Very very pretty !

Ruth said...

Interesting post! The work and detail that has gone into the lace and blouse is amazing and all by hand too. Sewing and embroidery really was a skill to learn in those days I'm guessing - passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter. It's so important that we continue this (and also teaching your children how to cook, etc). These are all skills are are sadly dying with the age of technology and convenience. :)

Aussie-waffler said...

Wow, wow, wow, your post really touched me, absolutely beautiful.

Michelle (Shell) May said...

It must be the week for this sort of post. I too posted about my grandmothers doilies, lace and tatting that I just got. How we all love it so much.
Glad I found you and got to share in your beautiful pieces and memories. How lovely.
bunny hugs,
shell

RedorGrayArt said...

touching series of remembrance ~ those rolls of vintage tatting made me swoon~elk

Mom L said...

What a lovely find! I don't worry about you, LN, as you always finish what you start. You'll get the organizing done when the time is right. This was the right time to let your imagination wander back a few generations!

Nancy in Iowa

d/iowa said...

what a great post- made me all teary :)
beautiful.
love the pics too!!!

Pomona said...

I love your post - I have inherited needlework from my grandmothers and there is something so particularly poignant about this sort of work - it provides a real connection with the past.

Pomona x

Teresa p said...

Love the lace on the line. Wonderful post.

dottie angel said...

that's exactly why we do what we do... isn't it amazing that somewhere in the future our great grandchilden may be doing the same with the handcrafted goodness we create today...

i started my little line of work purely because of a pile of my granny's linens were given to me. as scared as i was to cut into them, i knew i wanted to see them and use them everyday and so dottie angel began :)

thanks for sharing this wonderful story that has warmed my heart and moved my soul...

i like you lots lola nova :)

Tif x

~ Junkyard Jennifer said...

I just came over from Tif's blog. What a great post! A lovely reminder to treasure those gifts from the past. I'm so sentimental and this post really strikes a chord with me.

~ Jennifer

Sandrine said...

I really like your post...what lovely treasures you have and what a beautiful moment of memories...isn'it amazing how handmade is filled with feelings and emotions.

CurlyPops said...

Oh how I wish I had some treasures like those that you have. Such an amazing amount of history in those pieces....

Lola Nova said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments, makes me feel so nice.

...and tif, you've made me blush :)

Leahdis said...

You are so lucky to have such beautiful treasures and the hand written card is so sweet. Thanks for sharing.

midge said...

what a beautifully written post. how lucky you are to have but more importantly to apprieciate those amazing treasures that connect you to your history. and now you have a lovely chronicle in the form of a blog post

sophie said...

what amazing and beautiful pieces you have - and so lucky. I have nothing of my grandparents - I never met either set and I definitly yearn for a connection to my past that I can't find!

Michelle said...

A beautifully written, touching post, thank you so much for sharing.

I have some of great grandmothers handiwork and they are some of my most treasured possessions.

Thanks also for visiting me and your kind words.

xx

Skebba said...

There is a certain reverance one feels around family heirlooms. I can imagine you handling the lace with gentleness and care.

Beautiful post.

jeanamarie said...

what a wonderful treasure you have - such beautiful embroidery!

Mare said...

Oh i loved this post my sweet friend...You know i feel that very same way every time i sit and knit or crochet. I connect with my Mother, my Grandmother, my Great Grandmother...it is a meditation and a sacred act. Oh and sometimes i use my Grandmothers needles and i can feel her hands guiding mine. Thank you for reminding me...

Debra said...

Oh wow...this just oozes stories...i dont know as far back as i am consciously aware where my link with it all comes from, but each and every creative stitch, paint, roll (felting) all seems to connect me..or perhaps its just a good grounding feeling. The lace is adorable :)

T said...

poignant story, photos and writing

Nikki Cardigan said...

This is such a beautiful post... beautiful thoughts, beautiful reflection and beautifully written.