Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heirlooms, Ancestors And My Connection To The Past

I have always been an "old fashioned" girl in the sense that I've always felt a connection to the past, a simpler way and a drive to do things by hand.  It comes to me, I'm sure, right through my DNA...my Grandmothers and all of those before them, were of the generation were one needed to preserve food to be able to eat out of season, their generations were also before the mass-produced-I-want-it-now-disposable times that we live in now.  That meant that every scrap of cloth left over from making something new or good bits from cutting up something old were thrown in the scrap basket and reused to make all kinds of things.  My Mother told me about my Grandmother's cleaver way of cutting out the backs of my Grandfather's shirts to use for making embroidered doilies and what-nots, because the backs never got worn and holey like the elbows...that's my Gran!  My Father told me a story also about my other Grandmother's abilities, she once received a hand me down coat from a cousin who was a large man, she measured and planned and cut and sewed and made TWO coats out of it for her younger boys!

When I read about my family history, or listen to stories told by my parents of their lives and pasts, what I really read and hear is why I am the way I am and it all comes together and makes sense.  In the most recent past on both sides of my family (and I'm sure this can be said for many families) I've discovered, fishing, farming, singing, sewing, knitting, shoe making, snow shoe making, fine wood working, sail making and of course all of the domestic chores.  It's a shame to disconnect from our domestic and cultural histories, to loose the knowledge that everyone once had, to become culturally amnesic.  It was only 1 or 2 generations ago that everyone knew a little about everything instead of modern times where few of us know much more than about any one thing.

I'd like to share with you a beautiful modern family heirloom that I recently became the custodian of.  About 15 years ago, my Father, being a hobby woodworker (it's in his DNA, because his career was actually in the medical field) decided to make a spinning wheel...from scratch...for my sister who had learned to spin in a textile class years ago in High School.  The ratio of drive band to bobbin was a bit to close to each other so the yarn spun like crazy but had trouble being picked up by the bobbin.  I knew, I just instinctively knew that I could get this beautiful piece of art not only whirling but actually working.  So one morning, just recently, I put time aside and dedicated it heart and sole to my beautiful wheel.  We had had the idea of filling the grove on the bobbin to change the ratio and it had worked but still wasn't quite right.  So I filled it to capacity leaving just enough of a grove for the drive band not to fall out and I oiled every nook and cranny of the wheel which I don't believe had been done.

Check out what I managed to get on the bobbin within a half an hour:

Now check out the wheel itself:

It's a thing of beauty, a true work of art.  It's beautiful and functional and is a real family heirloom.  I will treasure it and care for it until it's time to pass it to the next family member.  Well done Dad.


  1. Okay, now I want it back, lol! So glad that a prized possession that unfortunately I no longer had the space for due to a major downsizing has gone to such a good home and has finally reached its full potential!

  2. You can come use it any time you like:)