I recently found out that my grandmother, my father’s mother, the one that died of leukemia long before I ever came to be, was something of a seamstress.
My aunt tells stories of her mother walking down the main street of their small town in post-Dust Bowl Oklahoma, trailing a line of needful children, by the early 50’s, 5 in all. Without enough money to buy the latest fashions, she instead brought pen and paper and stood in front of the window displays of the department store. With just her eyes, she poured over the latest lines, a wider lapel here, an A-line hem there, making notes and drawings on her little pad as her mind worked away. And then she walked home.
She pulled apart the clothes that no longer fit, the sacks of flour that she bought in patterned fabric, and she set to work making her 2D sketches into patterns for beautiful clothes. And so her poor family never looked quite so poor. And everyone grew up with what they needed.
My maternal grandmother has always proclaimed she needs a pattern. That she’s not creative enough to making something brand new. I always believed I took more after her. After all, we both crochet. We wring our hands in the same way when we’re nervous. We have the same sweet tooth for peach cobbler in the summer and toffee peanuts come Christmas-time.
But unlike my maternal grandmother, I do make my own patterns. And I’ve always started in a very particular way: with a sketch pad and pen and my eyes. I decide what I want to create…maybe a snowman. I look at photos on the internet, I scour my imagination, and I sketch, I scribble largely incomprehensible notes, and then I grab my yarn and hook and begin.
I make the 2D image on my paper into a 3D image in my mind, and then I build my pattern, row by row, stitch by stitch.
I have always felt so disconnected from my father’s mother. I knew I had her dark, dark hair, her brown, hooded eyes. But who she was, how she lived, has always been such a mystery. But now I know I have this, too. This ability to make something from an idea, a sketch on a pad becomes a physical, beautiful object, and I see how her memory lives on through me and these little, happy things I crochet into being.
I like to hope that, were she still around, she would like me, that she would be proud of these things I create, that it would bring her joy to see her talent carried down the line.
Want to make your own little snowman? Find the free Chill Charlie the Snowman pattern on my blog here!