“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.