Her favorite color was red

My grandmother’s voice has been in my mind this week because I have been sitting at the sewing machine almost every day. She was a constant, loving presence in my childhood and may be the reason I continue to work with cloth. Here she is (wearing her favorite color) at her 90th birthday party in 1983, waving off the camera.

nannybday

She – we called her Nanny – was from a big farm family with German/Luxembourg roots that settled in Kandiohi County in western Minnesota (flat, glacial lakes, rich black soil.). (Interesting fact: kandiohi is from the Lakota language meaning “where-the-buffalo-fish-come.” After that lots of Germans, Irish, Swedes and Norwegians came.) She had an 8th grade education and after that went to dressmaking school. Her sister, my great-aunt Mary, also handy with the sewing machine, made her amazing wedding dress. She married my grandpa (“Pop”) in 1917.

nannywedding

I can evoke her presence when I call to mind her kind voice and her hands. During overnight visits, she would set me up with little sewing tasks, worked on mostly by hand, but sometimes using the old cast iron Singer with the knee pedal. There were bound buttonholes, pot holders, doll clothes. (My sisters developed great sewing skills making doll clothes.) I learned about finger-pressing – it works really well on linen!

runnercircle

 

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Author: Kit

I use the materials and techniques of the Japanese art of katazome (paste resist stencil dyeing) to capture my experience of nature. My work celebrates daily meetings with the wild birds, plants, and lake breezes of my local urban surroundings.

9 thoughts on “Her favorite color was red”

  1. Thanks for the lovely post on Nanny. We certainly did have golden time with her! I remember she drew a pencil line for me to follow on my first projects. The very first was a tiny maroon velvet drawstring bag, about 2+ inches square, sometime before kindergarten, which replaced the pudding box on a string over the shoulder which I carried my stuff in.She made my doll Betsy a plum colored corduroy coat with princess seams…..which is in a family photo. What inspiration for us!
    She would love your runners, Kit! They’re wonderful — and the bunny design turned out fabulous.

  2. Thanks for the lovely post on Nanny. We certainly did have golden time with her! I remember she drew a pencil line for me to follow on my first projects. The very first was a tiny maroon velvet drawstring bag, about 2+ inches square, sometime before kindergarten, which replaced the pudding box on a string over the shoulder which I carried my stuff in.She made my doll Betsy a plum colored corduroy coat with princess seams…..which is in a family photo. What inspiration for us!
    She would love your runners, Kit! They’re wonderful — and the bunny design turned out fabulous.

  3. I too had a seamstress grandmother- she taught me to sew and I used her maiden name for my business. Finger-pressing!- me too!- I think of her every time I do it.Your runners are beautiful and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in your shop in the fall. I need some of those bunnies.

  4. i love stories about grandmas and great grandmas… i wish i knew more about mine… those runners look AMAZING!!! fabulous colors ..
    i didn’t learn to sew from my grandma, but i feel her presence in my stitches…

  5. All the pieces look wonderful together. People will be so excited to see the display. Especially beautiful: the owl, & the rabbits. I hope you have a bunch of sales.

  6. yes, they are sister cities, there is a road in front of the peace museum with a street sign that says “st. paul”…. (streets don’t really have names here, but there is a st. paul street)…

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