My Grandma Lorraine taught me a lot of things. I learned how to crochet by watching her, but never hooked as tightly as she did. I still wonder how she ever got the hook through the stitches on the return row. I sat with a skein of yarn and chained. And chained. Until I had this ginormous pile of chained stitch at my feet. Red wool.
My first experience as an embroiderer and cross stitcher was with her. I still tied knots in my embroidery floss back then and never understood why I had all these bumps coming through the front of the piece. It was her patient hand that showed me how to tuck the ends.
She also made these amazing braided rugs, made from strips of wool from old clothing. I use to roll up the balls of wool strips as she cut them. She had one in the dining room under the table. It was huge, and I remember still to this day, nearly 40 years later, what it felt like under my feet.
She also did paint by numbers. I recently saw a painting kit at the craft store and there was this wash of memory-- of sitting beside her at the dining room table, my toes wiggling against the wool rug underneath them as she popped open each of the little plastic paint jars. And that itty bitty paintbrush. Tiny. And she would paint, dipping that brush and finding each number on the canvas board that corresponded with the number stamped on the flip lid of the wee paint jars. I wiggled in my seat, wanting to try it, too. She would let me, but only the places that were bigger.
She knew what she was doing, she did. I still color outside of the lines.
Lately, I find myself thinking a lot about the things she taught me. What an influence she had on the creative me. She was responsible for the foundation. She instilled in me a love for those things that were simple and real. A love for the things that are fashioned as much by your heart as they are your hand.