A Legacy In Textiles

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

For some reason, I’ve struggled with writing a decent blog posting lately; do I write about school choice, the “mommy wars,” or the joys of pulling up linoleum and carpet (one word ~ gross)?  Since I wasn’t emotionally ready to deal with some of those, I thought I would write a short posting about some of the most treasured gifts I’ve ever been given; those that have been handcrafted and given from the heart.

I was blessed to have two grandmothers who were extremely talented in the world of crafting.  My mom’s mother crocheted like there was no tomorrow and did lots of needlework on plastic canvas, an art that I think has truly fallen by the wayside.  My dad’s mother always made beautiful quilts and, after being taught by my maternal grandmother, also has turned out some beautiful crocheted afghans.  I often joke that if my power goes out, I will never ever get cold, warmed to perfection by these two ladies’ handiwork.  In all seriousness though, I’m blessed to have in my home every day reminders of my grandmothers.

I share with you now photographs of some of these quilts and afghans in my home:

The first quilt is one that my Granny Mary Lee gave me just a few years back.  While I do not know the true story behind this quilt, I consider it a prized possession as it is unique and contains pieces of my own family history.  The quilt, as you will see, is comprised of blocks of varying fabrics, but each contains a signature, most of the owners whom are actually related to me; there are squares with my mom’s signature, both of my dad’s sisters, my grandmother, and even my great-grandmother.  I’m not sure of the exact age of this quilt, but anticipate it’s age as somewhere around 40 years as my parents married in 1971.  As such, I’m hesitant to actually use this quilt, rather I keep it folded on a hanging quilt rack in my den as a testament to the piece of art that it truly is.The second is a patchwork quilt that I have had for as long as I can remember.  Again, made by my dad’s mom, this one was made specifically for me in 1979, the year I turned 1.  A true legacy from the 70’s, the squares, backing, and binding are all polyester; the coldest nights with no power are no match for this quilt.

This photograph is a compilation of several quilts and baby afghans my grandmother made for each of my boys either while I was pregnant or not long after their births.  The quilts are fashioned utilizing the “Dutch Doll” or “Sunbonnet Sue” pattern, which holds a special place as my Granny also made a quilt of the same for each of her grandchildren many years ago.  Alas, I actually used mine and am not sure of its fate any longer.  The blue and white baby afghans were made especially for each of my sons and they were snuggled in them on their trips home from the hospital.

The last photograph is of two afghans that were made by my Granny Edna.  The predominantly orange was my “Clemson” afghan while growing up; the other just another fine example of her handiwork.  Confined to the house much of the time, Granny Edna perfected her crochet technique and could work and use just about any stitch created.  She tried, unsuccessfully, to teach me to crochet; I wish now I had persevered a little harder back then.

Beyond blessed is the feeling I hold for these items and the others which I did not pull out and photograph (there are at least 5 more safely tucked away).  My Granny Edna has been gone now since 1997; My Granny Mary Lee is still alive and well and living in the house where she handcrafted each of these precious quilts and afghans.  I have fond memories of her quilting frame being set up in either the den or the living room and being allowed to play underneath while she worked.

These are treasured possessions for me; reminders of who I am and from whence I came.  What about you?

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