My friend Brenda brought me a present on Friday - a stack of craft books from her friend's late mother, Edna. I had such a great time flipping through these treasures this weekend, and I would like to share with you some of my observations and thoughts.
My first impression: I love the smell of Grandma (even if it's not my Grandma), and I love the smell of books. Combine the two and I was in nostalgia heaven.
Crafting seemed to be a long-term love of Edna's. These books span five decades - from 1941 to 1987.
Edna's interests ran the gamut of fiber arts. Though these books are mostly to do with knitting, you will also occasionally find crochet, sewing, tatting, macrame, needlepoint, cross-stitch, embroidery, hooked rugs, and even decorated eggs.
A number of well-known brands/publishers are represented, but Edna seemed to favor Bernat, Columbia-Minerva, and Spinnerin. Or this could also simply be an indication of the dominant brands at the time.
The further back you go, the more models you'll see with cigarettes in hand or mouth.
I guffawed at the atrocious patterns - those I hope never, ever come back in style.
I admired the true classics - those I could see being worn today exactly as the pattern pictures them.
I contemplated the near-misses - those I could see being easily altered in small ways to make them wearable today. For example, could we maybe nix those shoulder pads?
I marveled at the intricacies of the colorwork on men's golf socks.
Most of all though, I loved reading the little handwritten notes in the margins. I could easily pick out those patterns Edna had knitted, especially if she had made any modifications and scribbled her calculations in the white space.
On a sheet of custom stationary stuck between the pages of one book, I found a hand-written pattern for a dishcloth with a personal note on the back from someone named Noami. She hoped Edna would enjoy making the dishcloth. She described her current works-in-progress. And she lamented that she and Edna did not live closer to one another so they could share more knitting patterns. Just imagine how they might have felt about Ravelry!
I began to ponder what future generations would think if they peruse my craft book collection. For starters, the sheer volume I've accumulated in only nine years is a bit on the obsessive side. My fondness for sock knitting would certainly be obvious, as would the infrequency with which I make baby items. It actually makes me a little sad though to think about the complete absence in my books of what I loved most from Edna's collection - those scribbled notes. I never write in my books; I won't even dog-ear pages. And the only bits of paper you'll find between the pages are probably just the receipts for each book being used to mark a pattern I like. Am I depriving some future-knitter of the experience Edna gave me? Or maybe my books just tell a different story, one I'm too close to see.
Regardless, I'd like to thank Edna, and her daughter and Brenda, for allowing me to learn more about this woman I never met and letting me carry on her legacy in some small way.