“Except in rare and isolated areas, crafts no longer exist as a way of life.[…] In our day, crafts are newly respectable, but chiefly as ‘hobbies,’ as ‘occupational therapy,’ or as new fashions in interior decorating. Yet behind the excuses given for indulging in craft activities, there lurks a kind of half-buried question, a faint suspicion that there is more to all this. . .
“The myths and traditions tell us that it begins from above; that all art, all craft, starts as a divine revelation. ‘Ideas,’ writes Coomaraswamy, ‘are gifts of the spirit,'” A Way of Working—The Spiritual Dimension of Craft, edited by D.M. Dooling. (A.K. Coomaraswamy quote from Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art).
By far, my grandmother, Anna Matilda Adams Lemmon, produced the most needlework of the women in my family, at least the most that remains in the family.
Anna Matilda Adams was born August 3, 1915 in Covington, Miami County, Ohio. She had to help with farm work when she was a child. Beginning at the age of 5 or 6, Anna started attending school at a one-room schoolhouse that contained eight grades.
They didn’t have electric lights at home, so they used coal oil lamps to see with and would take one from room to room. They had a large coal stove for heat.
My grandmother’s family was quite musical and for entertainment in the evenings they would get together and play music. My great-grandfather played the fiddle. Her brother played the guitar, and Anna played the piano. She said, “We had a good time, just playin’ music and singin’.” That’s how Anna met Cory who would eventually become her husband and my grandfather; he came out to the house with some friends for the entertainment.
Anna was happily married, raised three children and never worked a day outside the home. She stayed busy embroidering and crocheting throughout her life.
She produced numerous embroidered pillow cases and doilies; she crocheted numerous doilies and various other items; and she produced probably hundreds of crocheted afghans. I personally own four.
We celebrated my Grandma Lemmon’s 90th birthday in the summer of 2005. I made a display of photos and some of her needlework that we had collected over the years. At the time, she suffered from dementia and was eventually moved out of her home and into an assisted living apartment, and later to a nursing home where she died in 2010. The last years of her life she had very poor vision and was no longer able to do any needlework.
See The Stitches We Leave Behind under the Series tab above for more links in this 10-part series.
17 thoughts on “Anna Matilda Adams Lemmon — my maternal grandmother”
this is a special post – we all feel the ties and connection to our ancestors, and having something to hold in our hands they labored over is a source of comfort. i think of my grandmother’s hand sewn blankets and my other grandmother published books. something to carry on to the next generations.
It is special to have “something to hold in our hands.” I love that about the needle work I have and some of the wood creations my dad made.
I love stories like this of real people, talented and beautiful, and well remembered. The pictures of her handiwork are great too!
Thanks. And thanks for stopping by. I just visited your site and picked a good day to do it. Congratulations on your award. I learned a lot about you in one fell swoop.
I have a series on my self-publishing journey that starts with a workshop I decided to take. If you’re interested you can read it here: https://randomthoughtsfrommidlife.wordpress.com/self-publishing/
Wonderful! Thank you for sending me the link…
What a lovely tribute to your grandma. She is probably looking down, reading your words, remembering, overjoyed that you remember her life. By the way, I work in an old country school. We only have five kids right now in K-6. When my kids attended, there were 40 children there. It’s a glimpse back into the past–one your grandmother would probably remember.
Thanks, Kathy. That’s pretty fascinating that you work in an old country school. have you blogged about it? And yes, my grandmother would remember. She wrote a little autobiography in which she talks about that very thing.
Christine, that’s a good question. I have blogged about it with random mentions over the years, but not sure if I’ve dedicated an entire post to it. May have to consider this in the future. Thank you!
Purely self-serving suggestion. I’d like to hear (and see) more.
What a collection . . . makes me realize what I could accomplish if I stepped away from the keyboard more often. 😀
There you go.
I love all those pretty dresses. Anna’s is particularly lovely. My mom used to make afghans with the shell pattern. I recognize some of those embroidery patterns, ones that have been in our family. Thanks for sharing.
The dresses were amazing. Sadly, my mother never kept them. I have no idea what happened to them. But at least we have the photo. One of my favorites, even if my diaper is dragging.
Very intricate work!
You have a lot more information on your family history then I have on mine!
I spent a lot of time gathering it when my children were smaller. I would like to get back to it someday, but I’m glad I spent the time talking to relatives while they were still alive. (I don’t get nearly the same quality of information when I talk to them after they died.)
WOW!!!! so loved this post.. seeing the wonderful things your Grandmother made.. beautiful loved those dresses and doilies.. I have crocheted squares and made a few things but Im not so clever with that as I am with knitting, although its all practice.. So many lovely heirlooms to keep.. xxx
Thanks, Sue. My grandmother was quite productive. Although she used patterns for many things, I think she may have created the dresses on her own.
I am not very clever with knitting or crocheting, but enjoy doing both. I hope I am able to do it for the extent of my life. It’s a wonderful pastime.