The Making of Heirlooms

Today I started teaching my roommate, B, how to crochet. (Crochet is a yarn craft that resembles knitting except you use one hook instead of two needles.)

She’s been asking for a while and I’ve been meaning to sit down and show her, but neither of us has ever gotten around to it until today. So now there is a little line of loosely-woven single crochet stitches draped across a table in our living room – the beginnings of B’s very first potholder. I’m so proud. 🙂

I learned to crochet from my mother, who said “yarn over from back to front, back to front” I have no idea how many times when I was younger. I had a hard time understanding why the direction of the yarn made any difference when the product would turn out the same anyway. I remember making endless granny-square circles in ambitious baby-blanket projects that turned out big enough to cover entire beds. (Which reminds me, I made my aunt a blanket when my cousin was born that I don’t think I’ve seen since… I should ask her about that.) My mother learned from her grandmother who, I assume, learned from someone else, and one day I’m sure I will (attempt to) teach my daughter. So B is good practice.

I haven’t crocheted much in past years, but I’ve picked the hobby back up since moving to the island and having very little else to do with my time. I’ve made two baby blankets for my mother-in-law to give as gifts, several potholders and trivet pads, and a rabbit. (Actually two rabbits, but the smaller one somehow looks more like a lopsided gorilla and is therefore not pictured.)

Mr. Flopsy - my first ever crochet animal

Mr. Flopsy – my first ever crochet animal

I normally stick to blankets and other flat items, so Mr. Flopsy is my first foray into the world of three-dimensional objects. (He looks strange because he’s stuffed with balls of notebook paper, since I didn’t have enough cotton pads to fill him.) Mr. Flopsy has his flaws, but the goal is to get really good at it and then sell the animals here as children’s toys (but with cotton stuffing, this time).

All of this got me to thinking – I know how to crochet, but how many family talents have I taken for granted and never learned to do myself? One of my great-grandmothers quilts, and while I think this is an interesting hobby, I never took the time to ask her to teach me. Who will make quilts when her generation is gone? My other great-grandmother and a grandmother can sew and embroider things, and while I have reaped the benefits of their skill my entire life, I’ve never taken enough time to learn well. (I can sew in a straight line and whip-stitch simple holes in socks, but that’s about it.) Who’s going to take in my children’s pants and make my granddaughters creative Halloween costumes when they are no longer able?

I suppose my excuse is that life is busy, things come up and other things get forgotten in the rush, but we really shouldn’t take talents like that for granted. Very few people today have family heirlooms that are more than 4-5 generations old. New heirlooms have to be made and passed down at some point, but if none of us young people learn to do things like sew and knit and carve, who’s going to make those heirlooms? Do we really want to be a society of people whose most precious family possessions have the words “Made in China” stamped somewhere on them?

I think not.

So Google “how to crochet for beginners.” Ask your grandfather how he carved that wooden horse on the mantle. Learn something worth passing down, because that’s how you’ll leave your mark on the world when you go.

What crafty skills do you have? Where did you learn them? Have you created anything you think might withstand the test of time?

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4 thoughts on “The Making of Heirlooms

  1. Funny you wrote about this now, because I decided in the past week or two that I’m going to take up quilting. It’s on all sides of my family, so I feel compelled to do so. I’m going to make quilts for my babies, so I thought I needed to get started soon!

  2. I learned a lot from my mom, dad and grandparents. I may not be the smartest one in the bunch, just ask Erin, but I am kind of a jack of all trades, master of none guy. From my dad and granddads I learned woodworking, auto, electrical, electronics, farming, and the list goes on. From my mom and grandmothers I learned basic housekeeping skills (not that I always use them) I learned basic sewing, crochet and cooking. ( Sandy had a tropical purse she really liked and the liner just fell apart, she was bummed, knocked her socks off when she found I had sewn a new liner in it.
    from my sister-in-law I learned that I could make it through a wedding wearing a pink tie and not die.

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