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Daily Archives: May 8th, 2022

Long ago before the advent of TVs, radio & Internet, folks had to do things to keep themselves busy. The idea of just sitting around doing nothing was quite foreign to most. Whilst reading books is always an admirable past time, making useful or decorative things was as well. From knitting to crochet, sewing and needlepoint to tatting, many things could be made over the course of a long cold winter.

Knitting and crochet could provide one with some warm socks, cozy sweaters, scarfs & blankets. Sewing certainly was a necessity, repairing garments and making new ones. Needlepoint, tatting & beading were definitely for embellishments and gussying up one’s home. The time honored Alaskan tradition of beautifying garments with beadwork is beyond compare.

For hundreds (thousands) of years these handcrafted arts have survived. I imagine most folks know someone (or they themselves) who can knit or crochet. Especially after the long COVID winters of the past two years, handicrafts have seen a resurgence. Hand sewing is an art not seen too often with the advent of machines but still around. Sewing, no matter the manner, remains a very useful craft to know. Even sourdoughs could appreciate the beauty of a pair of beaded fur lined mittens or a bit of tatted lace on a blouse’s collar.

As a child I learned to crochet from my Great Aunt Arta. She was left-handed and I learned by sitting in front of her on the floor and copying her hand movements. Thus I hold my crochet hook underhand and interesting enough, the same way my Great Grandmother held hers (according to my Grandmother, all three of blessed memory). Many of my fondest childhood memories involve making something with her.

My Great Grandmother tatted but none of her daughters learned the craft from her. I wasn’t even aware of it’s existence before meeting a lady by the name of Althea Barth while living in Idaho.

She was older than my Grandmother but younger than my Great Grand would have been. She had an enormous library of handcraft books. Lady’s journals from the 50s & 60s that I swooned over. I made copious copies of all the lovely things I wanted to crochet! Althea taught me to tat using a shuttle. Upon gifting some pieces to my Grandmother she informed me of the link to my Great Grandmother. Serendipity!

She told me that during the Great Depression when tatting thread wasn’t available or affordable, Great Grandma would tat with sewing thread. Now that’s some dedication and fine detail work!

A tatted motif & my Great Grandmother’s shuttle.

I enjoyed learning the art and besides the wonderful friendship I had with Althea, it brought me a new connection to my Great Grandmother. I encourage everyone to make friends with some of your elders, sit with them, learn from them, share your life with them. The rewards are many.

I can imagine many an old sourdough man or woman knitting besides the warm stove in the dead of winter. Donning a snuggly scarf when going out to haul in wood. Or cozy socks in worn old leather boots. And maybe a tatted lace doily under the one prized little knick-knack sitting on the shelf.

Carrying on these time honored traditions brings me great joy. I hope one day my kids will want to learn some if not all if them!

This post is dedicated to my Mother, her Mother and her Mother, my ancestral mother’s. Who’ve handed down much to me both genetically, historically and relationally. Happy Mother’s Day! ❤️🤍🤍