Hooligan Zoo

Two Zookeepers… many Hooligans… It's always feeding time at this zoo!

An old art… not yet lost.

on March 4, 2010

My Gramma was an amazing woman.  She was a crafter extraordinaire, she could make anything you could possibly dream of (including the most delicious crepes you can possibly imagine!)  She was a knitter, she crocheted, she was a seamstress, a potter.  She knew how to cross stitch, embroider, weave.  You name it, she could do it, and if she wanted to do it, but didn’t know how?  She would get a book and learn how to do it.

Now that she’s been gone for a few years, I find myself wishing that I had have asked her more questions.  In fact, just a few weeks ago, I was trying to figure out how to sew pleats on a costume for a friend of mine… knowing that there must be some simpler way to do it than the way I was doing it.  I had the fleeting thought, “Oh, I’ll just give Gramma a call… she’ll know!”

While my Gramma taught me a lot of things, and I mean a lot, she did not teach me embroidery.  My mom used to cross stitch, and I know how to do that (my mom taught me), it was never really and truly an interest at the time.  Which means that I never asked her about it.  Which means that now that she’s gone, I’m in the place of figuring it out myself.

The internet is truly a wonderful thing.  You can google pretty much anything.  The internet, however, does not watch you as you make those first few stitches… it does not put it’s hand on yours to guide you through the faltering routine until you pick up the rhythm on your own.

Learning to embroider

Last weekend the kids and I set out to learn how to embroider.  I did have a very basic knowledge, years of watching my mom cross stitch was still stuck in the back of my brain…

Learning to embroider

It’s interesting, I thought that the hooligans, mine and Rachel’s, aged from 3 to (almost) 8, would fiddle around and play with it a bit, lose interest, and go do what hooligans do… in our house that means doing their level best to drive me insane.

Learning to embroider

They amazed me.  Not only were they patient waiting for their turn to have needles threaded, they stuck with the project for hours.  Literally, hours.

Learning to embroider

Learning to embroider

It’s amazing how you can give a child a challenge, offer no expectations and just leave them to it, what they will accomplish! They each decided on their own designs, and we simply drew it on the muslin (for the older girls) mesh fabric (for the younger kids). They chose their own colours, I gave a brief tutorial on back stitching, promised that I would thread all needles, and they were off!

Learning to embroider

A brief interlude to watch a movie (embroidering all the time), a small break to eat dinner, and they persevered until it was time for bed.

Learning to embroider

I simply can’t believe how much fun they had doing such a simple thing! An art that has been around for thousands of years. The simple act of taking needle and thread to draw on fabric.

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And while those first halting stitches are secured on the fabric, while we listen, while we calm to make them smaller and neater, they are learning an art. They are learning to persevere. They are learning the joy that comes with making something from your own two hands. They are learning patience. They are learning that while they are small, they are very very capable. They are learning a craft that they can pass down to their own children one day.

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Last weekend was not just about learning to embroider. It was so very much more than that.

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3 responses to “An old art… not yet lost.

  1. Beckie says:

    Hi Jamie…it’s Beckie…I am home today sick with what I think is Bronchitis…Doctor appointment tomorrow finally! I am thoroughly enjoying reading your blogs….you are an amazing writer and I really appreciate your sense of humour. I have often thought of writing a blog but haven’t b/c I worry that it won’t be able to be preserved through the generations if the internet has spontaneous combustion or something….so I stick to journals. I can relate to your grandma story ….actually makes me think of my mom who died in November of lung cancer at 85 years young. When I was young I truly did not appreciate her strength and talents. Having me at a later age…made the generation gap seem that much larger. Of course these past few years I came to realize just what a truly amazing woman she was and there are so many questions I would like to ask her now. The women of her generation endured life challenges that I don’t think we will ever be able to comprehend or appreciate. The one lesson my mom taught me that will always be with me is you have choices on how you live your life BUT you also can choose how you die. We have such wonderful memories of her last few days and she made us laugh so hard….we told stories, sang songs and just held her. Cheers to these inspirational lassies!!

  2. Katie says:

    Hey Girl! LOVE what the kids did! That’s awesome! I loved your last sentence…so true…it’s not so much about what they learned to do that day as it was the character traits they will build from it.

    You are an awesome wife, mother, friend and writer!!!

  3. Amanda says:

    Jams, that is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I’m excited to do things like this with my own children 🙂 You know anything involving a hoop, thread and needles is especially close to my heart :)My mom is like your grandma. Any craft, she’s done it, knows how to do it, still does it or would love to try it. Anything crafty you need, it’s right there in her craft room. When I was about 5, she taught me to knit, to crochet (which you retaught me years ago!) and to explore my creative side. I gave it up for high school and boys and work, but these lessons never really leave you. They stay with you and are right there waiting for you whenever you wish to take another stab at it 🙂 Thanks for sharing this lovely story and the photos! xo

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