Yesterday the tree went up and as I placed my grandmother’s handmade ornaments (crocheted stars and bells from Marian and painted fabric ornaments from Hilda) I wondered about the overflowing meaning in handmade things.
This past season, I’ve been busy, mentally occupied, and I was struck by how disconnected I feel from the meaning and intention behind my making and the handmade things in my life.
And, simply stated, that’s not okay. Not for me.
It’s intention and mindfulness that give my life deeper meaning and connection.
The connection I feel to my Grandmas when I lovingly place the bedraggled crocheted stars (they narrowly escaped a house fire) on the tree is real. It’s tangible.
As is the connection I feel to Grandma Marian when I sit down to sew on my machine.
She was a seamstress in the evenings and weekends after her work in the factory and, on top of fancy dresses, she made things for us…always, all of us. Things like doll clothes, quilts, and crocheted slippers with old denim bottoms.
We honored handmade things in our family and saw making things by hand…be it made of fiber or wood…as a form of self-reliance.
And then as though the universe (or my female lineage?) gave me a light tap on my shoulder…I was at a dear friend’s and the conversation went to handmade things as I described the knitted scarf my Dad asked me to make him and the crocheted ear warmer my Mama wants.
My Dad brought me the scarf his grandma made him so many years ago to use as a pattern, a scarf he still wears…you may remember them, kind of a bow tie scarf where one end threads through the other. He’d like it a little longer, please.
Can I have one too?, asks Ellis. But, in yellow. And a hand-knit PJ Masks costume. Yes, to the first. No, to the last. (This mama is NOT spending a year knitting a full-body costume for a wee boy who’s interests will have expanded along with his body. However, I might sew him one…maybe.)
So I traced out the scarf and counted some stitches and found a pattern online to get me started.
Then my Mama asked me to make her this odd little ear warmer that ties under the chin and looks quaintly bonnet-like…she was given it from an elderly friend and wanted one that was a bit bigger and a nice burgundy color.
I found that this odd little ear warmer was sometimes called a skater’s cap.
I do enjoy a challenge and giving gifts that will be loved, so I said yes and traced that out too.
Anyway, it’s then that they, the friends I was visiting, confessed to being a rescue home for forlorn and forgotten afghans….apparently so many that it required a basement to keep them in.
“I know how much work goes into them and I can’t stand to see them left in a thrift store, so they all come home with me”, he says. And while she laughs at his afghan “problem”, she sheepishly admits to saving a few herself.
An afghan rescue. Ohh. My heart grew three sizes.
No, handmade afghan left behind.
I feel the same….it’s hard to leave any handmade item to languish in the thrift store.
This is how I sometimes end up with things I don’t really need.
Because you can feel the meaning and love in a handmade item whether you know the human who made it or you stumble across a handmade item in a dusty bin.
Whether it’s exquisitely done or could benefit from some color theory.
The human print is there and it tugs at us and connects us to our ancestry.
Those handmade things speak to you with their slight human imperfections and whisper of the stories they hold.
And this…along with that self-sufficiency bit, is why I make things, to have more meaning in my life and to pass that feeling and my story along to my family or complete strangers in a thrift store.
So, I’m reminded, gently, to come back into that mindful space, especially this time of year and reconnect to my making…by hand.
What about you?
Do you have handmade things that hold a special place in your heart?