Sunday, May 4, 2014


In the little coal-mining town where my mother-in-law was born, life's hardships far exceeded luxuries, yet she produced beauty with a minimum of material, an abundance of toil and the talent of an engineer. Though long gone from her labors, her work stands in testament to her achievements.

High up on a shelf in my closet, tied with blue ribbon, is the pillowcase. I've retired it, so that it may be preserved.

It reminds me of her desire to create beauty from the commonest of materials. The original fabric was thick and sturdy, rough muslin. But years of use and washing took off the rough edges and gave it some softness. The fabric started out as a bag to hold 50-pounds of flour. When the bag was emptied, after scrupulous laundering, Anna used the fabric for covering the kitchen table when she baked weekly bread and holiday strudels and nut rolls. More laundering, and the fabric became softer still, but developed a nickel-sized hole. So she retired it from its primary function and with nearly invisible stitches and a patch, mended the hole. Unable to purchase new crochet thread, she gathered some remnants from past projects--pale green, soft pink, and cream. Devising a pattern from her own imagination, she created beautiful crocheted lace to form a lovely border. As I was just starting out, she knew I could use another pillow case, but apologized about its humble origins. She needn't have worried.

Anna lent her artistic skills to an abundance of creations, some of them so intricate, they belong in a museum. And while most crochet craftspeople used written patterns as their guidelines, hers were original--conjured up through imagination or in seeing a pattern somewhere.

In those days, no one considered this home art to have much value beyond the family, and certainly not on par with professional artists or engineers. I always believed her son, a mechanical engineer, got his talent from her. This modest woman would never have given herself the credit she deserved. What a blessing to have tangible evidence of her skills and talent and, above all, her generosity.

Picture by: Melica73, Allposters