"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Foremothers

From the time my late husband & I moved to Portage, WI in 1981 for his Family Practice practice, a group of us there used to demonstrate spinning for schools, library programs, city-wide festivities, nursing homes and just about anywhere we were asked to show what we do.  I have always enjoyed spinning, whether it was in front of a fire at home, on the front porch, at friends' homes or demonstrating.  It is so relaxing - just plain lovely.  Another reason I love it and love to demonstrate is that it all helps to keep the art alive.  We no longer NEED to spin our own yarn and very few of us will ever have sheep so it would be easy for the ability and knowledge to die out.  But we must keep our histories alive.  

I have often felt a link to OUR fore mothers, who worked so hard to eek out a living with their husbands, if they had one, and then in the evenings after everything else was done and the dishes put away one more time, they would continue to work by the light of the fire or oil lamp by spinning linen for the loom or yarn for the needles.  I love to read books about fiber arts in the "old days" and love to go to museums where spinning wheels and equipment are displayed.  It's at those times that the connection with our fore mothers is perpetuated.  I do have to guard against romanticizing those days but we all know that it was hard, hard, hard.  I rather like my microwave and dishwasher. 

Now, my dear maternal grandmother died over a year ago at the age of 96.  Here she is pictured at her 90th birthday party in Byrdstown, TN.  After about age 92, she began going down hill, but she never lost her spunk or her sense of humor.  We all miss her so much.

In June of last year (2013), my mother culminated months of going through Grandma's things with a big yard sale. Grandma lived through the Great Depression and never.threw.anything.away.  Mom had her hands full.  My sister and I helped but we couldn't really make any decisions.  Well, we made some of the obvious decisions, like "throw this in the garbage bag."  We found many treasures, some of which were bought by me or other family members and some that needed a lot of repair so were sold to dealers and collectors.  And then some things were too dear for a price and Mom decided who should have them.  

There was something in an old trunk that Mom decided I should have. It is the equipment my great, great grandmother used to keep her family warm and the floor covered against the cold.  I posted a picture that contained Granny Dillon in my first post. But this picture below is Granny Dillon in younger days with her family (her first 2 children.)  The baby is my great grandmother, who died after I was grown up, so I remember her well.
 The items my mother gave me are pictured below.  
 There are 2 pairs of cotton cards.  However, the pair on the right has wool in it's "bristles." There is a set of sock knitting needles, a darning ball, 2 tiny crochet hooks, likely for making lace or doilies, a large wooden crochet hook for making rugs, 3 shuttles for a floor loom AND a bobbin head for a SPINNING WHEEL.

How exciting.  I won't be able to use all of the items.  Age has rendered them brittle and delicate.  The needles may be usable and the shuttles, possibly.  The bobbin head is beyond use, and of course would need to go with its wheel.  I can only imagine what kind of wheel went with it.  I can get an idea by the size and type.  Oh, how I would love at least a picture of the wheel.  

But having these things in my possession keeps that connection with MY fore mothers alive.  I now have evidence that my fore mothers did out of necessity what I do for enjoyment and relaxation.  And who knows, but what my great, great, great grandmother used these same tools - for they threw nothing away. 


  1. Awesome story about your family history Linda! Love it!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Carla.

  2. How wonderful that you know and have pieces of your family's history. :) I just love the pic of your great-grandmother.

    I, too, romanticize the "olden" days. It's easy to do but you are totally right! Where would we be without our motorcars, dishwashers and microwaves? ;)

    1. We'd be a lot achy-er, I think. :)

      The first pic is my grandmother. The other one is my great, great grandmother.

  3. I meant great great then! :D HA!

  4. I'm proud to have a copy of that picture. It is a treasure. :)


Thanks for the encouragement of your comments.