the wandering homebody


My Grandmother’s Gifts
06/14/2011, 2:35 pm
Filed under: crafts, everyday life

This salt and pepper set may be one of my most prized possessions:

It lives in my house, but it really belongs to my grandmother, who, at almost 86 years old, is still totally badass. This set – or more specifically, the salt pot in the middle, with the tiny spoon – has sat on my grandmother’s dark wood dining room table for as long as I can remember. During the summers my family travelled to India, I used it daily, usually to spoon just a little more salt over the plain yogurt I had at every meal. I have coveted it for years, and at a very early age made my grandmother promise to leave it to me after she kicked the bucket – hopefully not until 101, like her eldest brother. She had always promised it would be mine, and when I got married in September, she gave it to me early, polished and shining.

Aside from being an amazing cook, a former medical social worker and a lady who turned down 20+ marriage proposals, my grandmother (I call her “Mama”, pronounced “Mumma”) is an incredible seamstress. I’m talking off-the-hook amazing badass stitchery. I mean, she is not kidding around. She taught herself how to sew without help from anyone, and growing up, pretty much all of my dresses were made by her. Her embroidery is intricate and perfect; she does beautiful smocking; she taught me how to knit. I know I’m being super braggy, but let’s face it – my grandma is probably better than yours. Also, she can literally sleep standing up. I have seen it happen.

My sewing skills are not nearly as precise as Mama’s, but that’s okay. I only started sewing about two years ago, when my sweet mother-in-law gifted me her old Husqvarna machine along with some very patient and helpful lessons. I still don’t really know what I’m doing – straight lines only! – but I love sewing anyway. I like how it forces me to do just one thing at a time, unlike knitting or embroidery, where I often have a movie or some music on for background noise. I like how quickly and easily mistakes can be undone. Mostly, I like the instant gratification aspect of it, as I am not an especially patient person. Give me an hour and some fabric, and I can make coasters, placemats, a table runner. Give me three and I can make a baby quilt.

This one is for a little girl who won’t arrive until August, but I had to make it early because Mark and I will be on our road trip. I’m still a very novice quilter, but already I’m finding it addictive. I love creating something that will be used daily, perhaps for many years. What is more satisfying than curling up under a worn, often-washed quilt with a book? Add a hot water bottle to that, and you have my vision of heaven.

This is obviously a very simple patchwork quilt, but the French General fabric is so beautiful that I don’t think the design of the quilt needs to be any fancier – I really wanted to showcase the fabric and make something unfussy. Also, I am lazy and didn’t want to do any finicky cutting.

The binding and back of the quilt are a fabric from the same line, and the quilting is just straight lines up and down and across. No fancy stippling for me yet, but I like the way the quilting frames each fabric block. My biggest quilting obstacle is that I lack a walking foot, so the length of my stitches is a little all over the place. Babies don’t know about things like that, though.

I hope the little recipient of this quilt is healthy and happy and knows how excited everyone was for her arrival. Also, I hope her parents name her after me because I made her this quilt.

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