My grandmother died last weekend, only two months short of reaching 100 years. Though it’s sad that’s she’s gone, I wanted to celebrate her long life rather than mourn her at the funeral. I also wanted to honour her long life as a queen of handicrafts.
She was an expert when it came to knitting and crocheting, and my life has been filled with hand crafted gifts made by her. In addition she also painted china, spun her own yarn and wove rugs and tapestries.
She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease during the last decade, and her last years were spent at the most wonderful nursing home I’ve visited. I saw her last fall, and although she didn’t remember me, she quickly placed me in a group she called “my people”. She talked about her crafts, which were largely represented in her room, and also started knitting, which my aunt later told me she hadn’t done for years.
When she died, I wanted to make an outfit especially for her funeral, in which I could incorporate her love of crafts, and at the same time make it an outfit I could have worn to her 100th birthday in April. I had a pale champagne/yellow silk I’d wanted to make into something for a while, and I found the colour fitting, as it’s not too bright for a funeral, but at the same time not the regular mourning black. To incorporate her years of crocheting, I decided to add black crocheted cotton lace as an embellishment.
The pattern I used to make the jacket is Nora, the same pattern I used to make the coat I wore to my own wedding. The only change I made was omitting the skirt from the coat/dress pattern and use my previously drafted long sleeves. The skirt is a basic box pleated skirt, to which I added a 6 cm waist band. Both are lined with a soft, light weight purple cotton and the bottom seam on the jacket is bound with satin bias tape.
I also needed a blouse, and made a basic blouse from black matte satin using the bodice from The Elizabeth Gathered Waist Dress, which I elongated by 12 cm at the bottom. It’s made as a quasi peplum with a flared bottom, and I used satin bias tape to bind the sleeves, bottom and neckline.
Grandma was never my best friend, but a person I grew to respect deeply, and I think she probably has benefited me with my love for crafts and a portion of talent for handicrafts. Her mantra (loosely translated) “I need something to do with my hands, you know” is something that applies to me as well.
She got to live a long and happy life filled with people, craft projects and travels – all of which she enjoyed, and she died in her sleep with my eldest living aunt (with whom she lived the last years before she moved to the nursing home) as company.
Apart from her crafts, she was one of the most social persons I’ve met – always making new friends along the way. At her death her family consisted of 5 daughters (one deceased), 16 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild. Her second great-great-grandchild was born the day before her funeral. She grew up as one of 12 siblings and her nephews and nieces and their families are numerous.
Goodbye Grandma, the impact you made on the people in your life makes sure you will be remembered.