Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Matriarchal Crochet

A crochet shawl I finished around 1977
         My mother crocheted.  She taught me to crochet.  I'm not sure if her mother taught her to crochet but I know her mother crocheted.  I have the crochet pieces to prove it.  Since crocheting is one of my loves and something I do often, I believe it is a good place to start my fiber inspired personal history . . .

"What People I Love and I Wore:  A Personal History of the Fibers of My Life"

Clothing and fibers have always held my interest.  I love the feel.  Enhaling the smell—even the musty smell of vintage and old fibers, satisfies, inspires and rejuvenates me.  Therefore, this is my story, my personal history if you will, told through the fabrics, fibers, and handiwork around me.
“I am born,” says David Copperfield, although he didn’t remember his birth anymore than I remember mine. In what was I first wrapped?  I was the fourth child of six.  My oldest sibling was just 4 years old when I entered the world.  That meant my mom was very busy.  By the time I questioned her about those early days, it had probably blurred into a general memory of all her children’s babyhoods.  But one blanket I know was there, because it is in my possession still.

Bedspread piece crocheted by May Adrian Petersen Hansen
I’m not sure when my mother learned to crochet.  My mother, Carol Hansen, eschewed most of the homemaking arts until she became engaged to my father.  That summer of 1953, while she waited for my Dad, George Washington Hatch, to be discharged from the army in Alaska and come back to the lower 48 and marry her; her mother, May Adrian Petersen Hansen, taught her “home skills.”  Mom’s letters from the period tally the numbers of bottles of fruit and jam they canned, bedding that was made, as well as other things she learned. 
Around this time, my mother crocheted a zigzag stripe afghan—forest green and yellow/green variegated yarns alternated down the length.  It was a large afghan, covering a full size double bed.  I remember it lying on my parent’s bed throughout my childhood.  As a toddler, my afternoon naps were often on my parent’s bed, cozily tucked under that afghan.
As my pregnant mother waited for her first child, my sister Evelyn, she crocheted a baby zigzag afghan from lavender baby yarn.  It was used for all six of her children.  I have seen pictures of several of us as babies lying on that blanket.  Here I am on that afghan, and note the retro wicker chair I’m lying on. 

Those chairs were easily upset when I climbed into them as a toddler.  Many a time I tipped over in them. When I was pregnant with my first baby, Carol Ruth, my mother passed that soft purplish blanket on to me. It was used with all six of my children, too.  I have yet to decide where I will pass it on.  But now its history is documented.
As I grew up, I don’t remember my mother crocheting much—there were those 1960’s crochet vests.  In fact I still have that pattern. 
(Mine was the red one on the left, without the buttons and in navy blue)

Mom was certainly an able crocheter, but keeping her children in clothing and later quilting were where she spent most of her time in the fiber arts.  However, when I was 11, and a Merrihand in Primary, we were supposed to learn to crochet.  I got sick and missed Primary that week.  While I sat in bed, my mother gave me a hook and taught me to crochet.  A variegated orange yarn hanger cover emerged from that hook.  I also made a lime green one—oh the colors of 1971.  That lime green one covers a wooden hanger and still hangs in my closet.
(The off-white shawl in the background is also one of my earlier crochet projects)
(Note those lime green stitches aren't exactly even)

Thank you, mom, for teaching me to crochet.   Watching the knots and lace grow from my hook has given me much relaxation and enjoyment through the years.
I have passed on crocheting to my children.  My daughter, Carol, who is now pregnant with her first baby has been producing multiple granny-square afghans.  She even made one for me.  It is fine workmanship which I love.

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