Sunday, April 10, 2005

Grandmother's rug

I just finished assembling Grandmother's braided rug.

It was actually made by my husband's grandmother, who died in 1943 when my husband was five years old. She was an expert with a needle, and she worked compulsively. This was a woman who crocheted tablecloths and even curtains. She made quilts and knitted multi-colored, striped mittens for anyone in the village who would give her yarn. We have a diary she kept near the end of her life, and during one period, she was knitting sweaters at the rate of one a week.

When we cleared out the house of my husbands' parents, we found an almost-completed braided rug. I brought it home where it reposed for a few more years in a box. But, wanting something to do with my hands while I watched television, I got it out, and found that only two more rounds would complete the oval.

As I laced the braided strips together, I studied the fabrics, mostly wool, all obviously from discarded clothing: a dark grey, a black, and a grey and black tiny check, probably men's suits; a light grey and cream twill, a brown and cream tweed and a muted, pale yellow, probably from women's jackets or coats. There was even a strip that looked like it had once been a pair of dark brown socks. The fabric smelled dusty and old, but it was still strong and rough.

"Well," exclaimed my daugher, when I reported that I'd finished her great-grandmother's rug. "Now you know what might happen to your unfinished projects." I don't know if that was a warning or a promise.

Grandmother's rug now lays on our bedroom floor where we'll use it until it wears out. And everytime pass by, I think of a woman I never knew, a woman who lived in a different time and place but whose legacy helped shape my children and grand-children.


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