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The women in my mother’s family did handwork. Their hands picked up knitting needles, crochet hooks, embroidery floss, or sewing thread whenever completed chores allowed them to sit down. I’ve carted around a trunk of handwork done by my grandmother, my great-aunt and my mother since my mother’s death in 1977.
I am an only child without children. My second cousins both have daughters, so I recently mailed them the “family linens.” I photographed everything before sending the treasures to the next generation. These are four of my favorite pieces, along with one of my own long ago attempts at crocheting doilies.
Seeing the contents of my trunk spread out in front of me, I finally understood why “making” is such an unrelenting force in me, and why all my life I’ve been drawn to doing all things involving yarn, thread or fabric. Even making books springs from this ground: the forming and folding of book cloth for covers, and the stitching of book signatures is but one more permutation of hands on cloth, needles, yarn and thread.