Periodically I go through closets and shelves and drawers to be sure I am continuing my process of downsizing. It seems to be the “thing” to do these days, especially in my age group. One interesting phenomenon is the talk of the “younger” generation and how they seem to be more minimalistic in their living standards. The rise of tiny houses is a characteristic and another is they do not want any of the belongings of their parents. That includes items going back even another generation. Now granted, no one wants a houseful of ‘stuff’. One lady I was with called it “sittin’ around stuff’. But there are certain things I do hold precious. I have a wicker plant stand that was my grandmother’s. From the time I was little I remember that sitting in an east window so grandma’s plants could get some sun. Somehow I ended up with it and since I like growing things (whether they live or not is another matter), the plant stand is both utilitarian and precious.
When my parents moved in to live with me so I could care for them, Mom especially brought a number of things that had belonged to her parents. She has been dead for thirteen years and I am still finding things and trying to decide where they should go. None of my cousins want anything. They are older than I and are trying to give away what they have. One good place has been the South Dakota State Historical Society since many of the items my parents had were from their homes in western South Dakota. I feel good about that.
Now I have been working on my own collection of things. The other day I was eyeing my sewing machine. After having a repair man look it over, he told me it will sew a straight seam, but that is all. I think it is ready to go out the door probably to the Used Furniture Room at our church.
Thinking about my sewing machine got me thinking about sewing in general and handwork and a woman’s role in the home. Mom did some sewing for me, actually several nice dresses I wore in college. (Yes, we wore dresses to class and then changed into pants when we got home.) But she never thought herself to be a real seamstress. She taught me how to knit, but apologized for having nothing more than a basic knowledge. She said her mother did not knit or do handwork and only sewed basic items. Mom’s other three sisters did not do handwork either.
My generation did more of that kind of thing. I did counted cross stitch, a friend does Hardanger, and I also knit a lot, mostly small items as my boredom level is pretty shallow. I also did a lot of embroidery work and still have friends who enjoy doing dish towels. One says it seems to be a hot item with her daughters-in-law to give as gifts. I also did some needlepoint which was fun.
When I see tatting, I think of an elder friend who died recently. While in the nursing home she kept on with her tatting and found herself giving lessons to younger women working at the hospital. She is a legend who lives on in what she taught. I marvel at the work of women generations ago whether it was their quilts or decorative work on clothing it is wonderful. I have a couple of handmade baby dresses that were my mother’s. They are so delicate. The flowers embroidered are dainty and the lacework is just lovely.
Of course quilting is big now and there are women who do lovely pieces that are fabric art. Handwork or sewing seems to wax and wane in popularity. I am always glad to see when people take up the challenge to be creative whether it is rag rugs, repurposing furniture, or wherever their eye lands. Everyone has some kind of a gift and it is important to make use of it. Everyone is enriched in the creation.