Timeless Treasures

It seems to me that when it comes to handmade items, there are 2 kinds of people:

1. Those who make things

2. Those who do not.

Within the “those who do not” category – there are also 2 kinds of people:

1. Those who do not make things but are enchanted with all things handmade.

2. Those who do not make things and find nothing special about handmade things.

I’m not judging anyone – everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. I’d just like to offer mine. 😉

Alrighty, Crystal. Go right ahead!

What brings this up all of a sudden? Spill it!

Well, I’ve been doing some sorting/organizing and I came across a little bag of “test” pieces made by my mother-in law. She’s been gone for 15 years now and I’ve had them that long – just can’t part with them. You see, I’m one of those people who is touched by handmade things. (You probably knew that.)

There’s a bit of her spirit in these . . .

click photo to enlarge

It was probably an ordinary day when she worked on these sample pieces. (Maybe it was snowing; maybe she had a cake in the oven!) They were created in preparation of assorted projects she was about to begin. While doing a swatch – she’d be testing the yarn, or the size of the stitches, or even the colors. As I hold them now, I wonder… Did she and I talk on the phone on a day she worked on one of these? Could be.

Whenever I’m at a garage sale or flea market, I always feel a twinge of sadness when I see people’s handwork for sale by their heirs – for pennies! Those heirs are surely in the group who don’t see anything special about handmade things.

My mother-in-law was an avid knitter. She made countless sweaters for her family – from the time they were in the cradle until they were fully grown.

Here are the beginnings of a baby sweater. She made dozens of them.

Then there were the afghans she made for all of us. They were virtual hugs that warmed our hearts as well as our shoulders.

This next photo shows her favorite afghan pattern – an Aran knit with cables. So labor-intensive! It has long strips and miles of stitches to sew together afterward. She made many of these, too.

Not only an expert knitter, Sir Beads’ Mom could crochet, sew, embroider, and do tatting, as well. No matter how experienced she became, she was a firm believer in doing a practice piece before beginning a new project. I’m still a novice compared to her and yet I seldom have the patience to do a test swatch. I usually jump right into a pattern and then spend more time unwinding and re-doing than it would have taken to make that practice piece in the first place!

I recognize this motif as a test for an afghan she eventually made for my younger daughter – her youngest grandchild.

I should probably turn these pieces into pillows or something more permanent. She lives in them still – her laugh, her love, her talent.

I have them carefully tucked away with things I treasure. Just looking at them every now and then brings back so many memories.

With my own handcrafts, I’ve always thought that the act of making them was truly enough . . . I didn’t have to wonder what would become of them when I am gone. I thought the important thing was the experience of creating something.

But, as I look at Mom’s little yarn “doodles” here in front of me, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided that handmade items have even more value than just giving a sense of fulfillment to the artist . . .

To those who notice and cherish the message – they’re a connection to the past, to the soul of a person. It’s a joy, it’s intriguing, it can even be a comfort that in the middle of all the drama and change in life – some things live on.

I’d like to think the essence of a person remains in something she (or he) made with her own hands. If so, there are “heirlooms” all around us! 😀




Timeless Treasures — 5 Comments

  1. Crystal… your posts are always so lovely and beautifully written, but this is my most favorite so far. It totally pulled at my heartstrings.

    How very talented Sir Beads’ mother was, and you speak of her (always) with such love in your words. You are so lucky to have her little samples to cherish so.

    I cringe too, when I see something handmade selling for mere pennies, as if it’s not worth anything more. So sad, because those are the things that mean the most to me.


  2. I’m one of these: Those who do not make things but are enchanted with all things handmade.

    I have every Santa Claus and other ceramic item my aunt made for me. There is no way I would part with them and my niece loves them too, she will be getting them eventually.
    Other than my aunt no-one is my family does homemade stuff unless you count cooking, and boy can they cook! I guess that is why I wanted my mom’s cookbook and recipe box after she passed, the memories are comforting each holiday when I pull it out to make a special dish.
    I make homemade dog bones every year for the shelter’s Christmas Bazaar and people come just to buy them.

    I’m amazed by the people who can design and make items that are full of love and are well-made too. Thank you for sharing about your mother-in-law she sounds like an amazing women.

  3. Well, you know which I am!

    Its funny to think of each person’s perception of the handmade gifts they give and receive. I have several crocheted items my grandmother made that are stored away for safe keeping. Why? Pink doilies don’t really go with my decor. But I cherish them all the same.

    I have made several items for my daughter. She USES them. They are time worn. That makes me feel good. She hasn’t hidden them away. When they fall apart, she knows there will be more. She also has those very special items that were made for special occasions and will be used that way. They will be heirlooms. I’m glad of that too.

    There is joy in giving…joy in receiving…joy in using…and joy in knowing it is used.

    Much love to you Crissy. You know the value of giving AND receiving.
    xx, Carol

  4. I feel the same way about sewing machines, i have 2 that are older than me. I wonder who first purchased it, what was made on it. Who was it passed on to?

  5. I love your post Crystal! And I can relate to it. For me, creating a jewelry piece is like therapy for me (and you already know why) and the experience of selling it is joyful. But knowing there are people in other states and countries actually wearing something I made is the most wonderful and gratifying feeling. I like to think and hope they cherish it forever.

    Your lovely post also made me think of my Mother-in-law. She gave me the most beautiful doilies that her Mother made and had given to her when she was young. I use some of them, but not all, and I make sure to take special care of them. A few months before my Mother-in-law passed, she came over to visit and noticed a couple of the doilies on top of my curio cabinet with trinkets sitting on them. I wasn’t sure how whe would react seeing them being used, but to my surprize, she was so happy. She told me that she just knew I was the one that would cherish them and that she had made the right decision by giving them to me. That was so nice of her say those words to me…made me feel very special and priviledged. I feel honored to have them. Like you, I sometimes think what her Mother was doing when she was making the doilies. I like to think that she too would be happy knowing they are in good hands with me.

    I always love reading your posts Crystal. Thanks for sharing your heartfelt story about your beautiful heirlooms.

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