When I was in college the second time, this time earning an English degree, I took a concentration of Women’s Studies classes. This is the first in a multi-part series from a project I wrote while taking a Women’s Studies/English class called “Reading between the stitches.” You can find other series I’ve written, or am writing, about on my “Series” tab above.
THE STITCHES WE LEAVE BEHIND
By Christine Grote – February 20, 2006
I have humble roots. Many of my ancestors were farmers, with a few craftsmen and women thrown in. Although a few of my ancestors came to this country in the mid-1800s with the great German migration, many of them had been in this country since pioneering days. Much of the needlework the women in my family did reflects a simple, utilitarian purpose, typical of the pioneering mindset, as opposed to elaborate and fancy quilts and needlework.
From a genealogical perspective, women in families are difficult to trace, but logic tells us that if there was a male ancestor here in this country, he had a female mate, although she may be unknown to me. When I think about my women ancestors, I realize I may never know much about them, but I may have a connection to them even so.
I know how to do many kinds of needlework. I sew, embroider, knit, and crochet. Without exception, I learned these crafts from a female member of my family. My mother taught me most, but my grandmother on my father’s side of the family taught me a few things as well. Reason stands to offer that the women who taught me were likely taught by their mothers and/or grandmothers. This passing down of a talent or craft probably occurred from early times. My needlework abilities have come to me through a curious, unidentifiable, circuitous path through the women in my family for generations. It is my connection to them.
See The Stitches We Leave Behind under the Series tab above for more links in this 10-part series.