As you already know we recently had to say goodbye to my gran. Given that we had lost my mum not so long ago this was hard. I did learn a few things about my gran though which I will share with you throughout this post. What I will always remember about my gran is what she was to us growing up. Until recently my gran was one of the strongest women I knew. In our eyes she was super gran. She was stuborn (a family trait) and not afraid to say exactly what was on her mind. First and foremost though she was a fixer. To us she could do anything. If anything was broken our war cry was "it's okay, granny will fix it". Much to my mum's amusement but oh the pressure we put our gran under. Yet I don't think she ever let us down and that mantra stayed with us. Even when she became less able, she could certainly tell you how to fix things.
However, this is about my gran and her influence on us in the craft and creative sense. She had a huge influence on my mum and myself as a result. She was also one of my sister's biggest art fans and helped her out when it came to projects she was doing that involved sewing. I can't remember if I mentioned to you the many afternoons as a child my mum, gran and aunt would spend together knitting away. Either for babies due or for us kids. I even vaguely remember them knitting care bears for charity (much to my sister, cousing and I's disgust as we were huge care bear fans). To me that was the first knitting group.
On leaving school though, my grans first job was at a Taylor's where she was a seemstress. What I didn't know was that she quickly became one of the finishers. Only the best got to be a finisher. She made a lot of her own clothes which she had to lock away from her sisters. It wouldn't even surprise me if she had made her Wedding dress pictured above as it certainly wouldn't have been the last Wedding dress made by her fair hands.
Growing up my mum and aunt were always the best dressed thanks to all the clothes my gran made for them. We could always tell when looking at a photo of them if it was something my gran had made for them. We grew up with it too. We all had a flower girl dress made by our gran. Our Cindy's and Barbies were the best dressed thanks to her sewing skills. I particularly remember a blue cindy dress with black lace and a pair of blue bloomers for underneath. We all had that one. Then there was halloween. My gran LOVED halloween and she loved a party. There are many photo's of her dressed up singing and dancing. She also made all of our costumes by hand. We have all had turns at being a Spanish dancer, a flower, a genie, Dracula's bride (my sisters favourite costume), a squa, Alice in Wonderland to name but a few. Gran was always there on dress up day to make sure we got our costumes and make up right and to basically enjoy it. One thing that did annoy her is that we wouldn't act the part as we were in the parade. Something I know she would have enjoyed doing. We were much too shy though. She also did the boring stuff. Anything that needed hemmed or mended she was there with her sewing machine.
As mentioned earlier she was also a beautiful knitter. We all had jumpers that she had knitted. Beautiful fair isle and scandinavian knits. In later years when she became a great granny she loved to knit baby clothes and was always showing them off. As she should. She was fascinated with the knitting group that I had set up and even went along to Gartmore in my place a few years ago and she enjoyed the company and seeing that the talents she learned were still out there. She even knitted bags and bags of baby clothes for our premature charity. All beautifully done.
Just before she went into hospital she made me take home the baby set and shawl pictured above. I was sworn to keep them or pass it on to someone special. So keeping them I am for now. It would be a shame if they didn't get used. Sadly I don't think that my photograph skills do either of them justice. Like her sewing skills she learned to knit early on. Her mum was a dyer and I am sure my great granny taught her skills. In fact I remember posting a story here about my gran and a socks she had started. She always loved getting socks from me. Every Christmas and birthday she looked forward to them and she wore them.
Later, to keep her occupied, she would use up odd pieces of yarn and knit squares. She would spend hours doing this and then spend hours sewing them into blankets. We all got one and we loved them. I still have mine which is sitting at the bottome of my bed. My mum even got two. One of which she passed onto my sister after hers was ruined when her house got flooded. My mum, however, was the only one who got one big enough for a double bed and in colours that she loved - red. I think mum looked forward to bringing this out every winter and if she was cold she would hawl it downstairs. Once we all had a blanket each she didn't stop. She would sew squares together to make little blankets which she would hand in to various animal shelters.
There was obviously a lot more to this lady than that but these are my special memories of her and I can thank both her and my mum for the influence they had on me.