Tag Archive | women’s work

Perplexed

I just read something on a blog I find curious, A woman was described as a 5th generation needleworker. Since most women of a certain age like me, would have learned from a mother or grandmother, how the hell do you know how many generations you go back? Especially since not too many generations back mothers made all their kid’s clothes.

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My Brighid puppet complete with embroidered flames and Brighid’s cross

My mom did needlepoint and she made all my and my sister’s clothes until I was a teenager because I rarely fit anything from the store. She even made my tshirts and pants. She smocked all my dresses from when I was born until I was 7 or 8. (That picture of me and my brother I posted earlier in the week was her handiwork.) Mom also hooked rugs and made a huge floor rug she designed in needlepoint of the Queen’s beasts after she saw them in Kew Gardens.

My grandmother taught me to embroider and to design my own patterns as part of our family traditions and to chant things while I did it. At the end of my bed is one of the handmade quilts my great grandmother created. We still have several including one covered in butterflies that was on my bed as a kid and now dwells up in the cupboard next to a Hudson Bay blanket because I really prefer a comforter.

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Lady Olivia Robertson, FOI puppet

I assume she was taught by her grandmother and mother. My grandmother had one of those foot pedal black Singer machines. I loved that machine and when I learned on my mom’s Singer she gave me a speeding ticket. I made a lot of my clothes for years because it was fun and I liked picking fabrics that were stealth pagan and had things like moons and stars. I lost my sewing machine when we had to let the storage go and we really don’t have room for it. I did when I lived alone but not now since I live with my sister and can’t leave things with pins and stuff out because of her cat, my cat had been trained not to go near my stuff.

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Mom and Dad in our living room in front of three of her creations

I had a Great-great Aunt Annie, who was the family scandal and black sheep, not because she refused to get married but because she became a nun in a Scots Presbyterian family and she’d joined sometime in the late 1800s. I have a photo of her somewhere that I need to scan of her playing the guitar before she converted and her convent used to send boxes of handmade lace to try to raise money from the family. So she had to have been a needleworker too. The last box arrived when I was really little after all her brothers and sisters had died and I remember my grandmother and mom going off about it. I think that was the last time they heard anything from her and she had to be in her late 90s because her brother had died at 92 in 1945 and she was a little younger, I think, we can’t find her in ancestry.com and we don’t know her nun name.

So how can you say you’re a 5th generation needleworker? Now a days it’s more rare for women to be embroiders or sewers but 50 years ago almost everyone did. I can remember being at meetings and gatherings as a kid with mom’s friends and someone would be knitting, someone crocheting, my mom doing needlepoint she designed from photos, maybe someone tatting or making lace. All kinds of things were created because they considered it lazy not to be doing something with their hands.

I have to say I come from a long line of needleworkers that go back in history with no end.

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