Confessions of a Want-to-be Quilter©
Memoirs of Carol S. Jackson, Evans, GA
printed by the author
Episode # 7
The Other Grandmother
MawMa lived only a few blocks from us in New Orleans. She was from Columbia, and spoke very little English. She also had Tuberculosis, and wasn’t allowed to hold me or get too close to me. That didn’t stop us from being emotionally close. She taught me how to make cookies, jellow, jams, and buttered bread with cinnamon and sugar. I’d come home from school to find a note from mom saying that she was shopping, and that I should go to MawMaws house.
Together, we gardened, cooked, and played board games. One day she opened a round sewing basket. Inside were the usual scissors and thimble, but the thread was not on spools. She had wound it around flat pieces of cardboard. Inside the lid, she revealed a hoop. I’m sure she saw lights in my eyes when I saw the hoop. After all, that was the Fall after I had made my first sewing sampler. She opened a little drawer in the top of her dresser, removing another hoop, and two pretty white squares of hemmed cloth, and a pattern envelope. I knew patterns. I’d been to many Yard Goods shops with Mom, and she had a box full. This one was different though.
MawMa took the squares to the kitchen, plugged in the iron, put towels on the table, and got a clean tea towel. She did some magic with the squares, tissue paper pattern, tea towel and iron, and when she finished, there were blue designs on the corners of our once white squares. She gave one to me, and began putting the other in her hoop. I followed her example, making certain there were no wrinkles. She next selected a needle with a big eye, and three strands of thread. I could tell, not by the Spanish words she was using, but by her eye movements, that she wanted me to do the same thing. I remember picking yellow thread because there were daisies in the design. No, she wanted me to make the daisies white, like the ones on the pattern envelope. We spent many afternoons together, cooking, gardening, and now sewing. I learned new ways to decorate those handkerchiefs, the satin stitch stands out as coming from her. We also embroidered a removable dress collar. We used French knots on the collar. I felt really special having something French! The difference from the stitches taught by Maw Ma and Granny, although many of the same stitches, was that Granny used the stitches for applique and MawMa made pictures called embroidery, using three strands of a special thread, instead of one strand of spool thread, doubled over.
There was another basket in MawMaws house. It was oblong and had balls of thread and needles with hooks instead of eyes. I had seen her making things with the hooked needles, and asked her to teach me. I learned how to crochet from that grandmother. I made table doilies, and doilies for chair arms. I made doilies to put on my head for church. They were all white or cream colors. No fancy colors with the crochet thread, but it was a new skill I had learned. Too bad those hooked needles all had to stay at her house. I wanted a set of my own. These are skills which would create that emotional comfort whenever I sewed designs onto cloth - a warm bond between a girl and her untouchable grandmother.
. . . to be continued . . .
To read or re-read the story to this point:
episode #1 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-89325-1.htm
episode #2 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-91439-1.htm
episode #3 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-93252-1.htm
episode #4 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-95299-1.htm
episode #5 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-97179-1.htm
episode #6 http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-99313-1.htm
Please contact the author for reprint information.