Monday, 18 January 2010

A Family History of Objects


daughter's jumper

TaDaaa! My first finished object of the year. It's a baby jumper made from my handspun Gotland fleece, a gift for my cousin whose baby boy is due today. It's soft but very warm, perfect for the Maine climate. I will post it tomorrow, but I expect baby will arrive before the jumper does.

I recently received a box of childhood memories in the post. Dad was cleaning out the attic and sent on keepsakes like photos, report cards, my old cheerleading outfit (!) and some cushions that were hand embroidered by my mother. The cushions were appreciated not only as a remembrance of my mom, who passed away in 1989, but of her talents too. She was a talented seamstress, making most of my sister's and my clothes until we left home. These included some dubious 80's fashions and cringe-worthy prom dresses, designed by us of course, all lace and pink taffeta. But her real skill was needlepoint and embroidery, where she could let her artistic notions run away with her.

mother's cushion

I'm more of a process crafter. I just find the repetitive movements of knit and purl, or blanket stitching a cheap form of therapy. The product is like a bonus. I don't have the skill my mother had, but I get huge pleasure from making something by hand for friends, or for my small but much loved family. That's why I wanted to make something for my cousin and her baby - to mark the occasion and pass on that love. I enjoyed making every stitch of the baby jumper and I hope the happiness I felt making it transfers to the wearer. Maybe one day, he'll open a box and find the jumper he wore as a baby, made for him by his crazy aunt who lived in England and kept sheep. Maybe his own son or daughter will wear it one day.

My most prized possession in the world is this:

grandfather's bowl

It doesn't look like much, and my photograph doesn't do it any justice. It's a plain wooden bowl, carved by hand by my mother's father. He was a carpenter by trade, and died when I was quite young. I have only a few memories of him. I don't know what kind of wood it is, or why he carved it - was it for a purpose or simply an artistic expression of his carpentry skills?  It is the centrepiece of every table I set for dinner with friends. I wonder how many Thanksgivings it saw before I inherited it. I know it had sentimental value for my mother who prized it too. I love it for its simple beauty.

Enough nostalgia. The lambs need dinner, the horses need their rugs changing, and the dogs want a run before it gets too dark. And I want to start on my next jumper.

6 comments:

  1. I love it! color, too. I would wear one of those (in a MUCH larger size). Did you have to dye it, or was that the color of the fleece?

    How cool to knit from your own animals. Did you spin it yourself as well?

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  2. Clever Cloggs!!!1

    It is really lovely Jen. Who is the next jumper for? You? Mike?

    Never did Make that coffee. Are you around Wednesday?

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  3. Paula - The Gotlands only come in grey, and a limited range of grey, but it's an old Viking sheep breed and the fleece is warm, hardwearing, but soft enough to wear next to your skin.

    I bought the fleece but spun it myself. I bought it from a farm not far from here. I'm hoping to start my own flock of Gotlands this spring if I can convince them to sell me some stock.

    Colette - It's a baby jumper for a gift, though I started the woolcake cardigan for myself last night from the Jacob I spun last year. I WILL make that coffee!

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  4. That sweater almost makes me want to take up knitting. It's beautiful! Does it come in my size?

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  5. Clare aka Martelle19 January 2010 05:12

    Any chance of gracing the next Knitting Group meet up in your cheerleading outfit?!! Hmm, maybe save it for the Summer, it's still a bit cold after all.
    Hope to see you soon

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  6. Tamar - It's only my 2nd baby sweater and only my 4th sweater ever, so it's very easy, even for beginners. I'm sure there's a pattern in your size. And the lanolin does wonders for chapped hands.

    Clare - I couldn't fit into it, not with my middle age spread! It's available as a halloween costume for young girls though. See you at the next meeting. Hope all is well with you.

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