26 Jan 2018

The family linen stash.

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Today, I got rid of 3 boxes full of antique yarns and threads, doilies, anitimicassars, dresser scarves, aprons, place mats, napkins and the like that belonged to my grandmother. This was her family stash.

She was a notable needlewoman, having learned to do so because that’s what girls were expected to do in that era; she was born in 1898. Fortunately, she was artistic and crafty, so fit well into that world. She made patterns, designed and made her own Irish linen dresses and, elaborately and tastefully, embroidered them. She taught her daughter to do the same.

My mother could knit and make clothes and insisted on making me do the same.  At age 6, I remembering weeping over having to sew a sampler, and then, once that was done and framed and hung on the wall, knitting a red wool scarf in moss stitch, one of the most difficult stitches ever! I still remember the last 3 stitches coming out in the wrong order at the end of the second row, and having to rip the whole thing out and start over. (To this day, I hate doing things over.)

Also in her collection was an assortment of old craft books with patterns.

I did nothing with all these textiles ever, and mostly forgot the boxes that were tucked away in the distant corners of my house.  Many of the pieces are stained by time and need more work than I have inclination or time to do. While I admire their beauty, I would never buy such things.  I do have a few family pieces left; I will cherish them.

The old cotton and linen  are heavy and strong. Fibers aren’t made like that any more. Like today’s processed food, today’s cloth is thin and weak.

I feel a pang of regret? sorrow? Grief?

This photograph is the only souvenir left.


Over 2 dozen people responded to the listing for free linens on CraigsList. They have gone to a good home, where they will be cherished and used.   I am glad about that.


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