We’ve had a very sad end to the month, my lovely mum died unexpectedly on Wednesday evening. She was 86, she’d been living in a wonderful care home for the last couple of years since she was no longer able to cope at home. She’d had a lovely day, her and her mates had wrangled three sherries each from the staff at lunch time, her best friend rand for a chat in the afternoon. The carers helped her get ready for bed that evening, went back 10 minutes later with her horlicks and she’d gone. It’s what many of us say we want, but it’s a shock to those left behind. It is a blessing though that she died before dementia took away the mum I knew and loved, she could still knit, and often spent her time drawing sketches of the residents and life in the home.
One of my earliest memories is of being sat down by my mum with a square of binca and some embroidery threads, I’ll have been about three. She started training as an art based primary school teacher when I was 5 and I’m sure she used to practise on us, we did potato printing, we made pots from the clay in the garden, we did tie dye in the kitchen, weaving, spinning…when we went on walking holidays our rucksacks included sketchpad and paints, so we could all sit and paint as we rested.
She bought us both a treadle sewing machine to learn to sew clothes on and when we were early teens we got an electric one! She’d made all our clothes as kids and taught us to follow and change patterns. She was obviously a good teacher as we both went on to make our own wedding dresses.
The best thing she imparted was her attitude, we were forever being told ‘there’s no such thing as I can’t‘ which can be very frustrating as a kid however if we saw something we liked in her needlewoman magasine she would always encourage us to make it, teach us the skills we needed and let us get on with it, hence I embroidered my cockerel and lyrebird at the age of 7 and 8. I’m sure this attitude is why I’m always happy to try something new.
My mum would get totally involved with a new craft, she would buy the books, go to evening classes, get the equipment and join the local guild or club, if there wasn’t one she would start one! She would be totally enthused for say 5 to 7 years, before she moved on to another craft, so she did lace making, quilting, spinning, flower arranging, painting and her final love which proved to be her finest skill, botanical drawings with coloured pencils.
During the last few years when I went to visit I always took some sewing with me, she loved seeing what I was stitching and delighted in the finished pieces. I’m going to miss our stitching mornings at Abbeydale.
The last couple of days have given me the impetus to finish a project I started last year – making a textile book out of all my mum’s little hand made things, finished or unfinished. A fabric tribute to a very crafty lady.