A stitch in time saves nine…
When I was younger, I didn’t really understand that saying. Maybe it was because the book “A Wrinkle in Time” got to me before Ben Franklin did? I took “time” in the same meaning as the book title: stitching time. How does one stitch time? And what 9 things does it save? Memories?
I recently realized that my grandmother managed to “stitch time.” She passed away nearly 4 months ago; it’s still hard to believe she’s gone. Last weekend, my mother gave my brother and I each a set of pillowcases that Grandma embroidered. They had been carefully pressed and stored in a drawer, saved during her big move to the small apartment a couple years ago. I doubt they’d ever been used, being too fancy for “everyday.” I had never seen them before, and didn’t even know she had done that sort of work. Where in the world did she find time to stich, with 9 kids and a house to keep? When DID women find time for themselves and everything else, with Monday washdays, Tuesday ironing days, etc….?
I have carefully stored them in my “linen closet” (top shelf, IKEA wardrobe, ahem). I too will likely keep them wrapped up, tucked away. Who can stand the thought of staining a pristine white pillowcase? What if the cats throw up on them?
Today I was at Goodwill (sweater shopping) and came across a “vintage” pile of embroidered handkerchiefs, napkins and dresser scarves, all painstakingly hand-sewn and pressed by someone years ago. Now, jumbled in a pile, they sell for a couple dollars to random strangers.
Every once in a while, a piece speaks to me and I take it home, wondering about the woman that created it. Did she enjoy the skill, likely taught by her own mother? Was she working on her hope chest before marriage, only to abandon the skill after the kids came, as a suspect my grandmother did? Was this one of her only creative outlets? When did she find the time to spend on this intricate art?
I don’t really want to embroider handkerchiefs or pillowcases, but I do yearn for that “simpler” time, whatever its definite flaws. I suspect TV, computers and commuting played a smaller role in the lives of those women. I bet their downtowns were still lively and full. I bet they washed their hair less often and had less “stuff” than us. My life as a “modern” woman gives me countless more choices, yet I can hardly find the time to cook for WF, let alone knit or sew as I’d like to…
Anyway, regardless of the deeper meanings of embroidery and it’s heyday, I am grateful to my family for sharing my grandmother’s work with me. I’m glad it didn’t end up in a pile at Goodwill. If I can’t learn from her, I’ll try to learn from the stitches she left behind. A stitch in time, indeed!
(pictures not loading: maybe later?)