December 2020. My mother was born 100 years ago, December 1920.
She experienced the second world war in her 20s and this had a profound effect on her in many ways. She became very creative at ‘making do’ with whatever was available. She was resilient, strong, standing up for herself and more importantly for her family. A ‘no nonsense’ kinda woman, not easily pushed aside, not easily forgotten once you met her. Loyal, loving and generous to friends, neighbours and family. Artistic and creative………… I have inherited much from her, but it is the creativity I now wish to honour here. She made many of our clothes when we were kids, this skill came from her own mother, a seamstress by profession. Not always appreciated at the time I must confess, as a child I would rather blend in and wear the same as others, be the same as others. She was original in her fashion sense and my classmates would make fun of her unusual sandals. Probably from Paris and highly fashionable. How I wished her to be like everyone else then and how grateful I am now for the exceptional woman she was. Grateful for the inspiration and encouragement which somehow and unnoticed brought me to explore my own creativity.
For her sewing she started with a hand-turned Singer sewing machine, the top of which I remember using as a ‘boat’ while she was busy sewing. This was later replaced by a foot-operated one and much later again she got an electric machine, now old-fashioned and heavy and gathering dust in my house. She made an endless series of clothes for my dolls – I had many! – jeans, blouses, coats, knitted jumpers and even a pair of tiny gloves for each of them! She knitted jumpers for her children, grandchildren and many for herself. In later years she didn’t care much if the colours matched, she mostly wore them indoors anyway. She knitted herself a full length dress, covering her from head to toe and keeping her nice and toasty in winter, it helped her save on fuel. I regret now I didn’t keep it. Another creation I should have kept but didn’t was a woolen rug she made especially for me, grey with pink. I just hope it stayed in the family. I don’t remember her doing any crochet and funnily I am not a great fan myself, I do it rarely and often in combination with knitting. A great passion of hers was embroidery. She made many pieces, mostly in a simple cross-stitch, following a pattern from a ‘women’s magazine’, the result so beautiful and professional looking. She wouldn’t have called herself a Textile Artist, as she always worked from a pattern, but when I compare the work to the original pattern, there are many solutions she invented to suit the material or a given size. There is much of her personality in these works and the finish is very professional.
In her centenary year I thought of showcasing her work, whatever I have of it. Displaying it locally became a non-option when the Corona Virus hit the world. After a while, when my own on-line activities grew, I decided to show her work here, on my website. I will give her a page and gradually fill it from now on, starting with her embroidery work. It can be found under ‘Creations’, Mother’s Craft.
Though it seemed she was strong enough to make it past 90 or even live to celebrate her 100th birthday, she died unexpectedly in her 84th year. She loved willow baskets and collected many, of different shapes, for different uses. She even had a woven willow lampshade in the living room. I inherited most of her baskets. Unfortunately there was no sign yet of me becoming a basketmaker while she lived, I am sure she would have absolutely loved it and many of my creations would have been sent her way!