balls of string, darning, great-grandmother, Irish immigrants, mother during Depression, parachute slipcover, potatoes, repairing wool blanket, Saint Patrick's Day, wool blanket
Gram’s Blanket. Baking potatoes for our Saint Patrick’s Day party on Saturday reminded me of sitting in my Irish Great-Grandmother’s kitchen. She was a child of immigrants and a mother of three during the Depression. She saved every scrap that could be of potential use. I remember her balls of twine – meticulously pulled, knotted and wound from the strings on teabags. She had two pale pinkish slipcovers that she pieced together from silk WW2 parachutes. She showed up at family gatherings with paper bags full of costume jewelry and vintage toys for us kids, (which made her by far our favorite visitor). I loved her house and her strange and beautiful collections.
Gram darned little holes in this wool blanket thousands and thousands of times using different color threads. She was fixing moth holes, but the effect is the look of stars, or the ocean, or handwriting. I love the humble repetition yielding such beauty. She would like that the blanket has been saved and used by my children as she used it for her own.
Robyn Leitner said:
They look like tiny birds. So pretty, and my Grandma was the same way. 🙂
Beautiful, inspiring and heartwarming. Thank you Jeanne.
That blanket is a true thing of beauty.
Thank you for this post. We all have so much to learn from one another and our ancestor’s particular forms of beautified thrift.
I have my grandmother’s diaries from dustbowl Oklahoma (1930s). She was a “one room schoolhouse” teacher, but her writings center on domestic life. She describes her days of hand laundry, preserving, and braided rug making, etc. with such a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. I feel so lucky to have them.
Here is to our hardworking grandmothers and their inspiration!
Thank you. I love it.
So amazing to have your grandmother’s diaries!
Did your grandmother see the beauty in her handiwork or was it just darning to her? I have a collection of my own great grandmother’s handiwork, some of it quite beautiful, but the letters she wrote describe what a pain it was to constantly darn and fix and sew. Thanks for sharing.
I am not sure if she did used colored thread for the sake of beauty, or if that is just what she had at the time. I suspect she just did what needed to be done. But she did have an eye for collecting and could not pass up a pretty dish or linen at a yard sale. I have amazing scrap books she made from pasting down thousands of newspaper images. Very obsessive and outsider artsy…I am sure the drudgery got to her as well. I like to think about the accumulation of marks and memories over a lifetime. I use the ideas a lot in paintings, and those are the ideas that inspired this blog. You are so lucky to have your grandmother’s letters!
Have you posted any pictures of the scrap books? Your grandmother sounds like a true artist. Your photographs are also quite lovely.
I have not yet posted about the scrap books. But I will! Thank you so much.
Katie J. said:
Such a lovely blanket, and I love the idea that the effect came from darning! Something most of us wouldn’t bother with these days, but probably should.
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