Last week was crazy for the news. I found myself staring at a crazy quilt sampler from my great grandmother wondering what she would make of it all.(More)
Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.
My great grandmother was the mother of six boys, one of whom was my mom’s father. Bop, our name for my grandfather, was born in the 1880’s. Mary, his mother, sewed all her sons clothes by hand because the money for a treadle sewing machine was not there and because her hand work was better and faster than learning a new machine.
Photos show a slight woman sitting on a straight backed chair surrounded by her husband and six sons all wearing black. No one is smiling because in those days, the photographer told people to not smile and not move for the 10 minutes the photo took. They are positioned in front of a white wooden farm house in southern Minnesota.
The only pieces of handwork remaining from my great-grandmother’s legendary needle work are a quilt top she pieced for my mom and this 20 1/4″ by 15″ crazy quilt sampler.
Here is a close up of the embroidery work:
The handwork is amazing and I marvel at this burst of creativity which she must have done just for herself to make something beautiful. I look at the individual fabrics and think they must be scraps from clothing or curtains. I wish a journal had come down with this little sampler. I wish I knew more about her life. I know that she had crippling arthritis at the end of her life. Family lore says this sampler was the last piece she worked on.
I also know this about craziness. Mary’s husband Job was the campaign manager for my other great-grandfather (his son’s father-in-law) who was the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives. The dividing social issue of the day was alcohol. Neither man drank but the speaker cast the deciding vote to let Minnesota be “wet.” Apparently it divided their small Minnesota community as much as some social issues divide us today.
In the midst of the craziness of her day, my great-grandmother applied herself to creating a crazy bit of beauty. I am in awe of this scrap of history and think that perhaps there is a lesson for me.