My Grandmother’s Crochet

2015-01-22 16.29.36It’s a story for another day but we are currently building an extension to my parents house for our little family to live in. In the process we had to move the Welsh linen press which is one of the only antiques that we inherited from my grandmother (Mamgu to me) and which came originally from the family farm in the stunning Preseli Hills. Carefully stashed inside and rarely disturbed are boxes of wonderful photos of severe, black-clad welsh baptists in their sunday best and other precious things from a forgotten time including a hand-stitched baptismal gown, fine lawn handkerchiefs and…her box of unfinished crochet. 2015-01-22 16.27.34   2015-01-22 16.28.31 Mamgu was a fine knitter and crocheter and made classic crochet lace table cloths, doilies and edged her best cotton pillow cases. I remember the table cloth vividly, it was always placed over the polished oak dining table and removed at meal times.

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My grandparents on their wedding day
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Mamgu (Phoebe Eluned Gibby) with her family, she is in the middle with the ribbons in her hair

There is something very poignant about a craft item left unfinished. I don’t know what she was making but it looks like the centre of a doily or motif for a table runner or table cloth. It is also incredibly fine work in very fine mercerised cotton thread. I can’t imagine having the patience for anything so delicate. I often find similar doilies and antimacassars in charity shops in unloved fusty piles; the amount of skill and love that went into them long forgotten. She did try to teach me crochet once, I was probably about nine and I got as far as making a chain. I think that, although I was a keen sewer and cross-stitcher at that age, I didn’t really understand the point of crochet. After all, who wants to make old ladies doilies, and what is a doily for anyway? It took me more than 20 years to pick up a hook again and I like to think that she would have been proud of me. I don’t think I will ever make a doily though, I still don’t really know what they are for. Perhaps they have been reincarnated in the recent fashion for crochet mandalas, surely these are colourful, decorative doilies for our post-colonial times.

Mandalas for yarndale
Mandala by Karin aan de haak
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7 thoughts on “My Grandmother’s Crochet”

  1. Hi Mary, nice to meet you. I found you via Jo. I also follow Attic 24 and joined her CAL in December. Lovely interesting blog.
    Hugs
    Cally x

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  2. Doilies are beautiful – in their own way. But I do agree that mandalas are kind of taking over on that front these days – they are colorful and bright, and mostly decorative. 🙂 I think it would be interesting to see a mandala turned into a table cloth, though!!

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  3. I have to agree that mandalas seem to be the new doily. Are you going to try and finish what your grandmother started? When my mother died she was knitting a 4-ply cotton bedspread for my brother and his wife. They asked me to finish it which I was able to do.

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    1. I don’t think I will finish it because I don’t know what it was supposed to be. I have been inspired to challenge myself technically though, so I might try using some of her left over thread to make something. Wish I had her hooks too

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