Thursday, September 29, 2011

In His Arms

After dinner, we push the island aside, put on some music (last night, "Rubber Soul" by the Beatles), put on our dancing feet, and cut a rug.
In this strange photo, Violet's foot looks like it's put on backwards, but really, she's just mid-twirl. Her dress is PERFECT for twirling, is it not?

We dig a too-small party dress out for Margot, and she feels the thrill of being twirled, too.

When I see the girls dancing with my husband, I remember how my dad used to ask all of his daughters to dance at our small town wedding receptions. We'd jive (none of us with the grace of our mother), and waltz and two-step. We felt safe in dad's arms, and beautiful. I remember the feeling as I grew taller and fit into his arms better, and how I always hoped I'd meet a man who could dance.

I did.

Now we mostly dance in our kitchen, and the kids giggle when their dad puts his arms around me for a slow song. It occurred to me that when older people reminisce about these days we're in (seemingly suffering from amnesia because they never mention the whining, fighting, exhaustion, and mess), THIS is what they miss.

These are the moments they're remembering with such fondness.

And lest you think we're forgetting him, I've already told him that if the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, then the way to a woman's heart is through dance. So we teach them to keep the time, to keep their heads up but be careful not to step on each others' feet, and most of all, to keep their partner safe in their arms.

Because isn't that just one of the best feelings in the world?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just One Room

I fantasize about creating a serene oasis of romantic potential in our bedroom. For now, unpainted walls, a ceiling patched with drywall, and mismatched curtains adorn this grand central station of laundry sorting. I use the word sorting loosely: it's more a dump-the-laundry-here-because-we-need-the-basket kind of place. We dig through the pile to find what we need, and wade through it to collapse in the bed at night.

Ironically, I HAVE created a serene oasis in my children's room, and guard it lovingly. I make the bed every morning, and tidy up the floor every night. Every day, they play rambunctiously, jumping on the bed, dumping the costume box, scattering wooden train tracks and little dolls around the floor. Still, I persist in tidying it up through the day; I think it gives me a sense of control over what sometimes feels like an avalanche of mess.

One day in July, I managed to capture it before things went downhill.
This is how I picture my whole house looking: thoughtfully-placed, well-loved objects on tidy display,
artwork properly mounted (this was one of my masterpieces from childhood),

artfully draped quilts,

and lovely objets d'arts (or crafts, or old Chinese checker boards) placed just so.

Horizontal surfaces are not dumping grounds for papers and detritus of all sorts, but important display areas.

 Books are returned to shelves after they're read, and the titles always face OUT.

Ah, an oasis. I think the other word for an oasis is a mirage. Look, quickly, for it will be gone in a blink of the eye.

A girl can dream, though, can't she?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Musings

I'm joining Nadja over at Patch 'O' Dirt Farm with some Monday Musings. Join in, and make sure to link back to her space!
Right now...

This weekend I processed a ridiculous amount of Concord grapes. My kitchen looked like a scene from Dexter, my sink is stained blue, and my fingernails are filthy. And the damn jelly didn't set. I didn't have the energy to start all over so I have some freezer bags full of grape juice in the freezer. I'll deal with it later. I may try to re-set my jelly if I find the time/energy/motivation! I've been watching 30 Rock on DVD, while working away at Jude's Waterhorse sweater; I'm on the yoke now, and ready to decrease. I'm just waffling right now: should I do raglan sleeves, or Elizabeth Zimmerman's saddle shoulders? I'm thrilled that he's actually going to get to wear this this fall! Sunday we just hung out; I worked away at sorting more stuff for the great Thanksgiving yard sale, and Robin got some of the wood in. Then we had a practice session in our kitchen, while I simulateously made a roast pork dinner for us all. Guess what we had for dessert? Homemade grape jello...

Some plans for the week: I'm registering for a course (Kindergarten qualifications) first since graduating university! I'm excited and a bit daunted. Friday night I'm attending a house concert to hear Gregory Hoskins, and on Saturday night, I'm doing a reading at a poetry night at a local restaurant. So I'll also be trying to arrange babysitting for two nights!

If I find some time for myself, I would like to get more rest, try to exercise, and start making a plan to take better care of myself. I've been feeling weighed down by stress these days and am recognizing the importance of keeping myself well so that I can meet the many demands in all the areas of my life. I'll start with a vision board (more on that later), and will try to make some small changes. I can't say I have a lot of faith in my ability to adjust my lifelong habits, as I've tried and failed so many times. But I'm going to try.

I am grateful for the intense colours of autumn: the clear blue sky, the fading of grasses while leaves brighten; the sound of geese heading south; the growing pile of wood in the woodshed; my husband, who always finds the right thing to say when I'm down; the amazing ability for our human souls to keep trying, even when we're exhausted and discouraged.

Some special prayer intentions for the week: I'm thinking of praying for myself this week. I try to pray in gratitude every single day. This week I'm going to ask for patience with myself, and for gentleness when I want to be my own worst critic. I want to pray for serenity, courage, and wisdom. I've forgotten to say that Serenity Prayer that is so simple, so wise, so effective. So I'll be adding that to my mornings.

Something that makes me smile: Jude coming home from his friend's house with a mustache drawn on; the same friend's mother, who keeps gluten free products on hand so I don't have to send food when Jude goes to play there. My husband dressed in a lion costume, roaring at the kids and making them shriek and run in terror. Bare bums. The Humpty-Dumpty self-portrait of a four-year-old. Robin telling Jude, when he asked what was for lunch: "Chicken farts and googly eyes"...heehee!! Violet watching the Sesame Street DVD (40 Years of Sunny Days), and "doing the err-err Pigeon" with Bert. I have so many opportunities to laugh in a day...a blessing in itself!

Have a wonderful Monday!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Opening Act!

We're opening for RON SEXSMITH!

It's crazy exciting for us.
You don't have to come to hear us.
But you DO have to come to hear Ron Sexsmith.
His voice lifts me up and breaks my heart.
Refer to the poster above for more info.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mammal Wisdom

A basket sits in a safe corner of my kitchen, where a mama cat snuggles her three nurslings. She comes out for food, or for a quick wander outside. At night, she catches mice in our kitchen.

 Her babies never cry because they're hungry or lonely. She is always there, ready to nurse them before they cry out. She nuzzles them and keeps them clean and warm; they sleep in a cozy heap of safety and security.
 Her approach to parenting has made me reflective of my own days as a mother. With my firstborn, I just sat and held him; I'd prepare a snack, make sure my book was within reach, and would sit down to nurse him. He'd doze off peacefully in my arms, and I'd just hold him until he woke up. I'd do bits of housework when I could, but saw it as my job to nurture him.

Along came my second child. I had a non-verbal two-year-old on my hands as well, so she quickly found her thumb, and napped on her own. She often travelled in a sling or carrier, and was physically with me as much as possible, though not as much as her brother was.

My third was a different kettle of fish; you can read about it by clicking the Making Peace picture to the right.
I've been thinking of the 24-hour cure prescribed by my midwife when Margot wasn't gaining weight. For 24 hours, I snuggled in bed, skin-to-skin, with this new human, nuzzling her head, smelling her, kissing her, closely examining her little body. You see, with two other small children in the house, I'd barely had time to get to know my new child. This was a blessing and a revelation to me, to really savour her. She nursed and slept, I read and dozed, and was catered to by my loving family.

It seems to me that this is as it should be! My mother always warned me about getting out of my pyjamas after giving birth. She said that as soon as I started wearing real clothes again, everyone would expect that I was ready to resume all my normal duties: laundry, cooking, cleaning. As long as I stayed in my pjs, I was seen as someone who had just given birth, and encouraged to rest.

It seems a shame to me that women in our culture are back at the gym after five weeks, back to work after six weeks (at least in the US), boasting about how their child sleeps through the night at two months. A baby isn't SUPPOSED to sleep through the night at two months! Waking up to nurse every few hours reduces the chances of SIDS occurring, and allows more of that all-important snuggle and bonding time (whether the baby is breast- or bottle-fed).

It is a shame that new mothers receive swings, saucers, bouncy seats, and Bumbo chairs (all devised to set a baby down), instead of a beautiful sling that would allow her to be hands free AND give her baby what he really needs: her scent, her warmth, her heartbeat.

It seems to me we rush the whole process. It is fleeting and precious, and all we want to do is get out of bed and resume our normal lives.

We have a lifetime to be "normal". If I were to do it all again, I'd take a cue from this mama cat. I'd cuddle and purr, kiss my babies, snuggle in bed and rest all day if I felt like it.

I'd bask in the beauty of being a mammal, and would turn my human brain off for a bit: the brain that says I must get my pre-pregnancy body back, I must have a clean house, I must get dressed, I must train my baby to sleep on her own, I must sleep through the night therefore I must train my baby to sleep through the night.
It seems to me that this mama cat, without ever having read a parenting book, has got it all figured out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yarn Along: A Teeny Birthday Surprise!

I'm joining in with Ginny at Small Things to tell you about what I'm knitting and reading these days. Pop over to her blog to check out her Yarn Along, and links to others!

I finally ordered the book Teeny Tiny Mochi Mochis and once I'd finished giggling (I LOVE the teeny caveman!), I started knitting. And finished pretty quickly. Then I started another one, and ended up with this:

The acorn and cherry tomato are to show you exactly how teeny tiny these are!

Don't you love how the teeny elephant looks like she is trying to blow out a candle? The friend this will go to collects elephants...figurines and such. I'm pretty sure she doesn't have one like this! Heehee! I love saying teeny-tiny-teeny-tiny as much as possible.

I'm reading Elizabeth Hay's Alone in the Classroom. It's a love story/family history/murder-mystery set in rural Saskatchewan, as well as in a fictional Ottawa Valley town (which I'm guessing is Renfrew); I'm enjoying it so far. Hay's "Late Nights on Air" is also worth reading.
I'm back to work, so knitting and reading time is at a premium. Teeny tinies are perfect for right now. It's a miracle I can even read a novel...I should be reading short stories. Or sonnets. Or haikus.

Yes, haikus are teeny tiny, aren't they?

I'm going to rest my teeny tiny head on my teeny tiny pillow now...have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Letter at Christmas, AND a Promotional Discount!

I've calculated that since giving birth to my first child six and a half years ago, we've celebrated Christmas with kids six times, and acknowledged twelve birthdays. I did the math: that's eighteen opportunities for our loved ones to give gifts to our kids. That's three sets of grandparents, five sets of aunts and uncles, plus the gifts we give.

So the question is: how do you politely request certain kinds of gifts for your children? We have been blessed by many grownups that love our children and don't ever want to seem ungrateful. It's just that after so many years, I have had to discard so many cheap plastic/battery-powered toys, or worse, toys that cost lots of money BECAUSE they were battery-powered. They still break. We're overwhelmed with boxes of stuff our kids don't really play with, or those toys that have so many parts it's impossible to keep them together.
About four or five years ago, Mothering Magazine featured a letter that could be sent to friends and relatives well before the holidays to polite state your intentions for your children. I've always felt a bit unsettled about sending I was being difficult, or a toy snob, or taking the fun out of the mad consumerism of Christmas. But I think this is the year.

After visiting a friend's small and beautiful home, I was inspired to take things in hand. The limitations in space demand that her daughter's toys are well-chosen. A few baskets of Waldorf toys (play silks, wooden tree blocks, felt fruit and vegetables, a little wooden play kitchen, and so on). I breathed of sigh of peace at the sight of these beautiful toys. My children HAVE toys like this. But they're so bound up with all the other "stuff" that they're hard to find.

So, upon returning home from her house, I fired off this email:

Relatives and Friends,

I'm just thinking ahead to Christmas (and the many birthdays ahead of us) and the INSANE amount of toys we have in our house. I would like to gratefully acknowledge the wonderful gifts you've given over the years, and respectfully request a certain "kind" of gifts this year. We're working hard at simplifying the "stuff" in our house, and are ditching a lot of toys that have broken over the years, or requires constant battery changing, or was brought into the house from yard sales, thrift shops, etc.

We just have too much; the kids don't even know what to play with anymore, pieces have gone missing, and we're always struggling to keep the toys in order.

So, as we attempt at achieve a bit more order in our busy house, I'd like to ask you to consider checking out or which are both Canadian businesses that support handmade/natural toys. We'd LOVE to build a collection of Holztiger animals (available at the first site)...we love the farm animals, daughter, farmer, and princess/queen/king/etc. kind of figures. Natural pod carries "Baby Bolga baskets" which would be so handy for the kids as they wander on their adventures (eggs, berries, apples, beach treasures!) , as well as beautiful coloured play silks (which are marvellous for dress up and imaginative play).

Visit to order!

Please, no plastic toys this year, or toys with tons of little parts that will get lost...there's no need to spend tons of money on wooden stuff; a lot of the items I've mentioned are around $10.
Find this beauty of a marble run on etsy!
If you enter the code KnittyGritty11, you'll get a 5% discount, and so will I!
Kirk's wife Erin grew up near my hometown; they're good people. Support real craftspeople!

Jude is really into experiments and building stuff; we hope to get him a wooden marble run on etsy (made by Erin Egan's husband, Kirk); he already has a microscope, but would probably love a magnifying glass, or a small aquarium/terrarium, or anything that allows him to keep things from nature to study! He also loves drawing and music as usual.

Other ideas include: an amaryllis bulb that they can watch bloom in the winter months, gift cards to a bookstore, a bug-viewing kit, art supplies, or camping gear (a flashlight, an enamelware cup and bowl), contributing towards lessons or classes, or just making a date to spend time together!

I hope no one thinks me rude...this is the desperate plea of a desperate mother; I really want to pare down the amount of stuff in our house and have found through experience that the toys my kids keep returning to are the open-ended, natural ones...they feel nicer, last longer, encourage imagination, and don't need batteries or make annoying noises. They are made by hand, with little or no impact on the earth. These are the values we hope to pass on to our children, and hope you can help us!

Thank you for reading through all these mama thoughts of mine, and for respecting our request!

With all that said, please know that our children do not expect gifts; they do not keep track (nor do we!), and always remember the joy of being with loved ones when they talk about Christmases past.

We so appreciate your role in our children's lives, and appreciate the love you show them by choosing gifts thoughtfully.

With gratitude,

When I mentioned in yesterday's blogpost that I'd written this letter, several people commented on my courage. It's less courage (because it's taken me six years!) and more that I really, really want to stop stepping on sharp plastic toys. I want to feel peaceful when I see my children's toys. That, I hope I can achieve with words.

If you're feeling similarly fed up, and possibly courageous, please feel free to copy or adapt my letter! You can replace the Canadian sites with others (I also love Nova Natural Toys in the US!), or tailor it to reflect your child's interests.

It is time to do more than THINK about making change. I'm the person who picks up messes and has to dispose of broken craptastic toys (with the eco-guilt that entails). So I'm taking charge of what comes into my house. I should have done it years ago, but I'm starting now instead!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Musings

I'm joining Nadja over at Patch O' Dirt Farm with some Monday Musings. Join in, and make sure to link back to her space!

Right is early morning. There's a cardboard box beside me containing our latest critters: three little kittens, born to our Doolin sometime this past weekend. I found them in a window flowerbox, lying in the earth, and felt compelled to offer them a cosy corner in a box. Mama cat is purring as her dappled beauties doze beside her. I'm preparing to rouse my own dozing "kittens" for a busy day of firsts: Violet's first day of school, and Margot's first day of daycare.

This weekend...we spontaneously went camping...well, as spontaneously as you can when you're packing for five people and the weather fluctuates between 0 degrees Celsius and 20 degrees! It was a weekend of geese calling, owls hooting at night, seeing our breath, kids sleeping deeply and warmly while mama froze her heiny off, sausages and coffee in the morning (and the BEST waffles!), mist rising off the water, yellow leaves, collecting acorns, gazing into the flames. It was a weekend for which I am very grateful, the last camping trip before real autumn (and inevitably, winter) begins.

Some plans for the week: finish putting away all camping gear, doing loads and loads of laundry, getting down to real purging. My sister suggested a yard sale on Thanksgiving weekend, and I am newly motivated to clear out a lot of the stuff I've gathered over the years.

If I find some time for myself, I would like to...start thinking about Christmas gifts for our kids. I finally found the courage to send a note out to our relatives requesting that NO plastic/battery-powered toys be given. I listed some ideas of where to buy alternatives, and gently explained that we're simply overwhelmed with STUFF. It was empowering to just get it out there, finally, after years of worrying that I might sound rude. More on this topic in a future post...

I am grateful for...the simple joys of camping with children; Violet's little warm hand in mine, walking to the privy in the dark, as she talks and talks and talks and marvels at the flashlight glow. Margot's amazing heat in our tent, like a little hot-water bottle. The funny "souvenirs" Jude chooses to bring home with him from outdoor adventures. This time: a bottle of swamp dirt. ("Wanna know what it smells like?", he asks..."Swamp dirt!")

Some special prayer intentions for the week: always, always: faith and patience for myself and for my educational assistant, as we introduce our new little charges to classroom rhythms and expectations!

Something that makes me smile: thinking about the looks on my children's faces when I introduced them to the kittens: complete awe and joy, and determination to follow the rule: no touching until their eyes open.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

::this moment::

One moment from the past week that I want to pause, savour, and cherish.
Stop by to share your own moment, and to see the moments of others!

Her Apple Trees

With two little helpers, and a feline supervisor, I was able to gather a few baskets of our "wild" apples, which have been turned into the loveliest pink applesauce. Today we'll collect the windfall and drive some boxes over to our neighbour's horses. I'm thinking some little jars of apple jelly would be a sweet addition to our Christmas baskets, and perhaps I'll make some pie filling to freeze.

Walking out my door with a basket over my arm, across the grass to the apple-laden tree, calls to mind the woman who planted them long ago. I don't preserve them out of necessity, but feel somehow that I am honouring her, by ensuring that this local, organic food source does not go to waste. I hear her whisper through my children's hair as we gather. I am grateful to her.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Meal Time Showdown

It starts out innocently, but with intention.

I choose something I know she likes (like the lovely stew that she ate with gusto at dinner last night). I don't overload her bowl, so as not to overwhelm her.

place a pretty red cloth on the paint-covered table. I give her a choice of beverages, and she chooses milk.
Then it begins.

The refusals. The whining and protesting. The anti-stew tirade. She just CAN'T feed herself. Would I PLEASE feed her? Can she PLEASE lean on me while I eat?

I place a morsel on her spoon, then leave it in the bowl for her to carry to her mouth. She hits the spoon, hard, so that the piece of beef catapults across the kitchen. I find myself trying not to giggle with astonishment at her spirit, as I listen for the sound of it landing somewhere near the fridge.

Then I'm the meanest mother ever. Margot ate her stew, so SHE'S the winner. "So I'M the LOSER!!", she wails.

I reassure her that the treat we were given at the library (my prize for identifying three poets from their portraits...but I digress) is sitting on the counter, waiting for when she's done.

It's just so unfair!

I reduce the amount I've given her by half. Then all gets quiet as I putter around the kitchen. Margot has had her treat and is almost ready for her nap. I wonder how long she'll last in this showdown that happens all too often.

A nutritionist friend once wisely told me that when it comes to food, it is a parents job to decide WHAT and WHEN. It is the child's job to decide WHETHER and HOW MUCH. I am very aware of all the possible issues that can arise when the dinner table becomes a battleground of stubborn wills, the parents insisting that the child clean her plate, the tears mixed with snot as the hated food is shovelled in against her will. The bribes for treats. The ensuing eating disorders.

I generally don't worry too much about how much she eats, as she has always been "selective". This is the child that would eat pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese, and warm milk for every meal. Or buttered bread. She grows slowly, and is small for her size. She was a hearty breast feeder, but took to solids reluctantly.

Every meal is an exercise in faith and patience, optimism and perkiness. "Eating healthy food will help you grow strong and well!" "You sure liked this stew last night!" "When we're all done eating, we'll go for a walk to see the horses!"

Not that we're perfect. There have also been bribes of treats and threats, in our more worn-down moments.

Food is such a primal issue. We all remember our mothers admonishing us with tales of "the starving children of Biafra". I've managed to avoid that ineffective argument so far; my kids are still confused about the concept of "Canada", so Biafra (or Ethiopia or Somalia) are abstract concepts at best.

We want our children to eat and grow. We want them to be grateful for what we have. We want them to appreciate the work that goes into growing and preparing food. And of course we all want that perfect scene of the family happily joining together to dine at the end of a busy day.

We've started lighting a candle at dinnertime, to symbolise the warmth and joy of joining together, and to signal the beginning of this daily event. We always hold hands and say a blessing. We parents listen to endless made-up jokes that make no sense.

But sometimes it just ain't peaceful.

She contemplates her options. If she eats the three pieces of potato and the three pieces of meat, a segment of chocolate is hers. With me quietly peeking (and sometimes photographing), I see her resolve crumble. She tells me, "I'm going to eat this now", then begins to eat. It takes all of three minutes. She is once again happy and calm, and delighted with her efforts.

I wonder why she makes things so difficult for herself. I wonder if I went too long between meals/snacks (today was library day, so our morning snack was missed) and that made her momentarily crazy. I kick myself for even mentioning the treat (they saw it sitting on the library counter), and wonder if I set her up to have a tantrum, her judgment clouded by the promise of chocolate.

I want her to trust her body, so I only offer healthy food through the day. I often put bowls of food on the table and let her serve herself so that she gets to know what she likes, and feels empowered by choice. With my own tendency to shovel food in whether I'm hungry or not, I trust in the wisdom of letting her decide whether and how much.

I have gradually let go of my need to control this aspect of her life (i.e. the "I-made-this-and-you're-damned-well-going-to-eat-it!" syndrome so common among working mothers!). My brother-in-law, who grew up in a home with six siblings, tells me that in his house, there were always two choices for dinner: take it or leave it. My best friend is a mother of five, and she does not give her children snacks. They eat three hearty meals a day, and they all EAT what is offered, because they're not in the habit of grazing through the day.

In our house, it is hard to make the kids sit at the table through a whole meal. We are gradually teaching Jude that he needs to stay at the table to eat. My girl, in this case, was free to meander about. She was in no way forced to eat. She had to come to the realisation, though, that we cannot eat treats if we don't have healthy food in our bodies first.

I know I'm not alone. Weigh in, mamas...tell me about your food battles, your best-bet meals, your own memories of dinner time as a child. It is so profound and emotion-laden. I'm not sure how to best avoid the whole meal time showdown with this one child of mine to ensure that she grows up with a healthy sense of what her body wants and needs.

In the meantime, I'm thinking I'll cook some pasta for dinner tonight.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

How We Get Our Kicks

They ask for the pot of kitchen scraps.
Then I hear them all giggling out on the porch.

This is how we get our kicks at the Knitty Gritty Homestead.

Friday, September 9, 2011

::this moment:cotton candy::

Pop over to to post your own moment, and visit other people's moments!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Violet's Interview

I began doing kindergarten interviews this week. Each child comes into my class for some one-on-one time. I walk them around the classroom, talk with them about the things they're interested in, and do some "work" with them to find out if they know their colours, can draw a person, can identify their name, and count with one-to-one correspondence.

One little girl won me over the second I saw her coming down the hall with her Papa:

She'd gone out for a lunch date with my dad, and was so proud of her tights. She handed me a letter the moment she came into the classroom. It read:

Dear Mrs. Pinkerton

Please be kind to my little grandchild because she's only four years old, and still a baby in so many ways.

She really felt grown up as she put on her new shoes and tights, and felt she could still run in them.

I've combed her hair so pretty and found a tiny barrette so she would look cute for her teacher. I know she'll be happy at school because her mommy is her teacher.

Love and hugs, Nanny

Miss Violet wowed me with her grasp of the concepts she'll need coming into Junior Kindergarten (I already knew she'd ace the interview!). My mom's letter to me made me cry, so I got her back by sending THIS letter back to her with Violet (I give a copy to all the mothers on interview day):

The First Day

I gave you a little wink and smile
As you entered my room today.
For I know how hard it is to leave
And know your child must stay.

You've been with your child for four years now
And have been a loving guide,
But now, alas, the time has come
To leave her at my side.

Just know that as you drive away
And tears down your cheeks may flow
I'll love her as I would my own
And help her learn and grow.

For as a parent, I too know
How quickly the years do pass
And that one day soon it will be my turn
To take my child to class.

So please put your mind at ease
And cry those tears no more
For I will love her and take her in
When you leave her at my door.

When I got home, mom had tears in her eyes and said she couldn't read it until just before I returned from work.

Ah, the bittersweet nature of firsts...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


When my grandmother was born in 1918, her mother was a milliner and accomplished seamstress. As a precious only child (until her brother was born in 1928), little-girl Pearl was always dressed to the nines in velvet and ribbons. Grandma herself would have had the sewing skills of most women in her generation: sewing on buttons, patching worn spots, darning socks, and making clothes last a little longer were part of being a wife and mother of the mid-twentieth century.

When Grandma moved into a seniors' residence, she no longer needed her sewing kit, and gave it to my mother to pass along to me. Within its depths, I found a wealth not all might appreciate, but which I greatly treasure.

Needles wrapped in perfect, tiny envelopes, bragging of the quality within.

Imagine, having a century's worth of needle-making skills that would allow you to guarantee the quality of your product!

It would appear that Abel Morrall's claims are true: these are fine needles.

Wooden spools with beautiful labels.
And this beautiful little book, full of all-purpose patterns for most basic knitting needs!

The item I love the most is this fabric measuring tape, marked timelessly in inches, even though in Canada, we "officially" use the metric system. I imagine my grandmother's hands measuring her child for a sweater, and even HER mother's hands measuring my little-girl Grandma.

Some women inherit diamond rings or precious china. I inherited the tools of a woman's work, imbued with the history of my foremothers. I am rich, indeed.