For want of a better title, this post is my story.
This has come about because I admitted recently on Instagram and Facebook, that I picked up a crochet hook for the first time only four years ago.
It gave rise to a few kind comments along the lines of “How can that be?” “ I can’t believe you’ve only been crocheting for four years”. That sort of thing.
Well guys, it’s not even four years. It will be four years in a couple of months time. Admittedly it has been an intense four years, both in teaching myself the crochet techniques, and producing a blanket a month for the first two years. Twenty four blankets did give me some experience.
Anyway, my story……
I’m 67. Four years ago my mother was 90. She was a lady of many talents. When she was young she had a bright future ahead, possibly studying French and English at university, but at the age of 14 in 1940, the war intruded on her life plans. Instead of staying on at school, she left and joined the Fire Service in Glasgow, during the bombings. It seemed the only thing to do. After the war and without any exam qualifications, she went to a local secretarial college. Her typing and shorthand skills put her top of the class, and in demand by a number of employers. She met my father in the insurance company she started working for, when he spotted her as the brightest and bonniest spark in the typing pool.
Marriage and children ( my sister and I) followed, and as a perfect ‘50s housewife, she threw herself into homemaking.
Cooking, cleaning, baking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, patch working, embroidering – she was accomplished at everything she turned her hand to. We were clothed in pretty handmade dresses and skirts, with hand knitted sweaters and cardigans. She became famous around our small town for the toffee apples she made in the hundreds for the local children at Halloween. Her baking skills were legendary. The tins in the cupboard were always kept topped up with sponges, cookies and tray bakes.
When we grew up and were off her hands, she turned her new found free time to the most exquisite embroideries and cross stitch. No chart or pattern was too complicated for her and the stitchery was perfect.
Now here is where I come in. From a very early age, my favourite pastime was to sit with a sketch pad and pencils. I also learned to knit, do embroidery and even, I have to admit, crochet although that was reluctantly, and never got further than one awful brown waistcoat.
My single minded obsession from primary school onwards was to go to Art College, despite protestations from teachers who felt I should go to university and study something ‘worthwhile’, and from my father who thought I should do what every young lady should do, that is leave school, get a nice job in an office until I got married and had children, and then become a proper little housewife, just like his good lady wife.
My determination won though, and in 1971 I headed off to Art College to specialise in Printed Textile Design and Embroidery.
In my five years there, I learned to design and print fabric, draw and paint, and most importantly learn as much as possible about every aspect of embroidery and textile arts. My mother was so pleased, and became my biggest supporter.
By the way, from that early age in primary school, I had realised the importance that colour had in my life. It has shaped all my creative thoughts since then and fills my head with ideas every day.
Anyway, after college I moved into teaching – Secondary schools for art in general, adult education centres as a tutor and latterly my own classes for embroidery. I’ve given talks and weekend schools all over the country and thoroughly enjoyed the job of inspiring people to be creative when often they were inhibited by lack of confidence.
Nowhere at this point did crochet make an appearance.
There were a number of years after college when I was working on my own textile art pieces, exhibiting with my college peers who had formed a group to promote our work through galleries, and things were going well. My mother came along to all the private views, offering help and advice.
Then in 1989, with my ownchildren now at school, I started my little craft business. Blessed with the same work ethic I had witnessed in my mother, I put my heart and soul, not to mention every waking hour, into growing this business, so that after a few years my husband, also an art teacher was able to leave a job he wasn’t happy in and become my business partner. We both worked extremely hard as the children were growing up. The business, (which was designing and self publishing greeting cards), continued to grow. The children thrived in an environment where their parents were at home all the time. We worked from home for thirty years and the business became really quite successful. My own textile art and embroidery was put on the back burner.
Anyway, still no crochet. When does that come in?
What I’m trying to do is paint you a picture of what has led me to where I am today. Crochet has become my means of expression now, but why not embroidery?
Well, back to four years ago, and my 90 year old mother. After my father died twenty years before, she had lived a very independent life, happily surrounded by her embroidery and garden.
She moved closer to us and inevitably her advancing years began to impact on her health. Her brain remained as sharp as a tack, but her eyesight wasn’t so good and her hands developed a tremor. Frustrated that she couldn’t maintain her exacting standards, she gave up her embroidery.
It saddened me to see her sit with idle hands, so I came up with the idea of getting some yarn and a hook to see if crochet was something she might still be able to do.
I had no idea whether it would be easy for her to do, but thought it was worth a try.
However, my heart broke when I gave her the yarn, and saw a fleeting look of fear cross her face. She knew she wasn’t going to manage, but at the same time it upset her to think I might be disappointed.
Instinctively, I knew not to push it. The yarn and hook lay on the table beside her chair for a week or two and then disappeared. No more was said about it.
Just before her 90th birthday, she fell and fractured her hip and the subsequent decline was prolonged, painful and awful to watch. It felt so wrong that someone whose life had brought so much love and happiness to her extended family, should be suffering so much.
Four years ago in October, her pain finally came to an end.
Then came the difficult task for every grown up child, clearing a house full of memories. My sister and I shared that task.
One day I opened a chest of drawers and found the yarn and hook. Unknown to me, she had attempted some crochet, just to please me. She had only managed one round of a granny square. The stitches were uneven and lopsided, and she probably gave up in disgust.
It completely and utterly broke my heart.
The decision was simple after that. I had spent several hours of my day, every day for the last year of her life, to be with her in hospital and then the care home. I was left with these hours, empty. The business had evolved around them, so I thought I would try to learn some crochet in these hours, in memory of my mother.
I would later come to imagine that this had been her last parting gift to me. I can’t explain why the passion started so suddenly and completely, but after an initial terrible attempt at a doll blanket, which we will hastily skim over, there was a hunger to learn everything I could. My skills of patience and precision learned from my embroidery years, my continuing obsession with colour, and the strong work ethic acquired from running the business, meant that I started to live and breathe crochet.
As I’ve already said, the first two years saw a blanket produced every month. The criteria around that was to learn a new technique or style with each one. I worked (and still do) into the wee small hours of every morning , and in the still of the night when I put my latest blanket up on the wall to study it from a distance, my mother is there with me to encourage and support. I’m not a fanciful person at all, but I do know that I’m closer to her at that time than any other, and my greatest sadness is that she never knew during her lifetime that I would become a crocheter.
So now you have my story. I am a textile designer, embroiderer, colourist, teacher, and business woman. Also a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother.
And every single one of these skills and attributes have led me to able to produce the crochet blankets and patterns I do now.
My heart and soul goes into every one, and maybe a little of my mother’s heart too.
56 thoughts on “A Blog Post About Me…….”
I’m so glad you took the time and trouble to tell us something about you. I have been following you on Instagram for a while, and whilst I love to see your work there, it is also lovely to hear your words.
I wasn’t sure about writing such a personal post, but it seems to have connected with a lot of people.
What an inspiration you are x
Aw thank you x
Lovely story. When I saw the photo of your mother’s embroidery, I immediately saw the inspiration for your blankets – beautifully woven colors and textures, true and beautiful, art.
That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought of that before.
Marion, I shed quite a few tears reading your blog today! It took me back to my Mom who crochet every day for as long as I remember, I never Had the desire to learn to crochet while she was alive but she left me with a hope chest full of crochet items! My mom died at the age of 89 in 2006 and we lived a few hours away and hoped one day my Dad would eventually live with us, but with each passing he dug his heels into wanting to stay in his home where Mom died! In 2010 a neighbor found my Dad apparently after 3 days on the floor, after much discussion with social workers and my brother, my husband and I decided to leave our home and come live with Dad! I worked as an admin supporting an Executive at Intel and it was a very stressful and demanding job that required my attention 7 days a week! My Dad was declining thru the years and one day a co-worker told me they were teaching knitting and crochet at lunch one day a week! I jumped at the chance, thinking this could help with the stress of trying to balance work and my Dad needing more care. Well that was January of 2013 and I don’t think I’ve put the hook down for more than a day or two since! I believe it was my Mom who guided me to it and it saved me through watching my Dad decline and giving him his wish to die at home! So Marion, I think our Moms May be in Heaven crocheting together and somehow I found you on Instagram because it was meant to be! You colorful posts bring so much joy to me! Thank you!😘
Thank you for sharing this, Barbara. It has been a long haul for you and quite a sacrifice to leave your home. But you can balance that by having the peace of mind that you did the very best for your Dad. Who would have thought of the therapeutic qualities of crochet before we got “hooked”?
Your story is heart warming
Thank you x
I’m typing this through tears, partly because of your beautiful story, and partly because my Mother and I never connected over anything. I sat at my Grandmother’s feet from age 1 to 5 watching her crochet and tat the most exquisite items… And many pieces of doll clothing, a few I still have seven decades later. She died before I was old enough to learn any crafts from her. I did learn to crochet ten years ago. My crochet will never reach her abilities, but it is the one thing that I feel connects us across 68 years.
The wonderful thing about crochet is how it connects us, not just across the globe, but through time as well. I’m sorry you didn’t have the connection with your mother, but you have the memories of your Grandmother to cherish.
What a wonderful story, your Mum certainly sounds like a truly inspirational lady. I’m so glad you still feel her presence as you crochet, I’m sure she’s there admiring your beautiful blankets x
Thank you Karen. She was, just as all mums are.
Snief – such a beautiful story, full of love, devotion and joy. Think I will skip all the admin today and just crochet, thinking of you and your wonderful mum! Big hug!
Thank you, Marion, for sharing this. I will be 70 in September and my mum worked full-time from when I was 8 and my sister 6. She still managed to make all our clothes, dressmaking and knitting and baked every weekend, apple pie, rhubarb crumble, victoria sponge, tarts, all the things that today’s generation buy from the supermarket. I learned crochet from my paternal grandmother who made the most beautiful doilies with silky thread. She too was a knitter (every grandchild had a jumper for Christmas!) and my dad’s oldest sister was a dressmaker and knitted with a machine – we all had knitted swimming costumes, remember those? Your post reminded me of all of the above and I had to smile. We are so lucky to have had those enterprising women with us while we were growing up. I firmly believe it has helped us cope with lockdown so much better than the younger generation who have felt bereft because they couldn’t go to the shops. Your blankets have inspired me and I now crochet, am in the middle of my first pair of knitted socks (thanks to Winwick Mum) and always have a cross stitch project on the go. Thanks again, you are an inspiration. xx
Knitted swimsuits! Thankfully I never had to wear one, although I think my husband was presented with knitted shorts when he was a little boy. There ensued a rebellion which resulted in a smacked bottom! You are right about the legacy of our mothers. I channelled Mum’s coping strategy when lockdown started and batch cooked and baked to my heart’s content.
Lovely to read about your life history of all your artistic work. I taught myself everything as I was brought up by a very Victorian grand mother, Victorian in all senses. My mother died when I was 2. I wanted to go to art college after school but wasn’t allowed as my Grand mother had the view that it was a bed of sin. So I became a nurse. I gave up when I married and had 4 children and not a lot of money, I learnt to sew at an evening class. I made all my children’s clothes, even knitted their socks. I learnt to quilt and crochet from library books and love crocheting. I have made various blankets, throws and matched cushion covers, all lovely Lucy, at Attic24 blog’s designs. I saw your May Blossom design and wrote about it on the Attic24 and more FB page with a photo and wow there were over 1000 likes and comments, one of which was yours, do you remember? Anyway I am three quarters the way through May Blossom and my husband has offered to buy me the yarn for your Beach Walk one. I have already bought the pattern. I am so pleased you’ve started a FB group, it’s so pleasing to see other peoples beautiful work and your own. Can one have too many blankets??
I had to reply immediately because there are two important things to point out about your comment. First of all, to answer your question, of course not, there is no such thing as too many blankets!!😆( Although I can envisage a massive blanket mountain when we are all sweltering due to global warming).
Secondly, and this is the important one, what immediately jumped out at me when I read your comment, is that you may not have the legacy of a creative and nourishing mother or grandmother, but it is YOU who is creating the legacy for your future generations. YOU are the creative and nourishing mother, so the line starts now. Isn’t that something to feel immensely proud of? I have a lot of admiration for that.
I do remember your post on Attic24 and more – it was amazing and brought a lot of new followers my way, so thank you. x
PS Your grandmother was probably right about art college being a bed of sin 😉
Your PS was so funny but I think so was nursing school but none ever came my way!
Such a moving story, Marion, and I can identify with a lot of it. My mother too, was a 50s housewife. She didn’t sew or crochet, but she was a brilliant cook and a talented knitter. She knitted virtually all my jumpers and cardigans when I was growing up. She taught me to knit when I was 6 or 7. I often feel her close when I am knitting, remembering techniques she taught me. I also insisted on going to art college ( dress design) when teachers and parents wanted me to go to university, but I only taught for a year before dropping out and going travelling. I did a lot of sewing when my children were small, making them clothes and doing patchwork. But once we began farming there wasn’t time or energy for crafting, my only creative outlet was the garden.. At some point during my 20s I had taught myself to crochet, but didn’t practice it (or much knitting, either) until I came across Lucy’s blog, Attic 24, about 5 years ago, and the colours just blew my mind. I was hooked, and have been making blankets ever since (though not as many as you: I suffer from tendinitis if I do too much). Mum died nearly 30 years ago, but dad lived well into his 90s, and I feel so sad that he died before I got the crochet bug, so he never had a handmade blanket for his knees.
I love seeing your blankets develop (and also seeing your sea videos: they are so soothing). Thank you for sharing your story.
Lovely comment, Trish. I think we are lucky to have had ‘50s childhoods. Our Mums knew what making do meant because of the war and passed that on to us.
This is all very commendable but I have purchased your pattern for the beach walk blanket and there are so many mistakes and instructions missed out…. I think you need to devote more time to pattern writing and less writing blogs telling everyone how marvellous you are.
Ooft, that was a bit harsh. But I’m old enough to accept your criticism gracefully. Firstly I apologise for the typos in the pattern. There wasn’t time to have it tested before publication. All the errors were ironed out very quickly though and the amends were posted on my blog and social media. I’ve had feedback from those who have finished the blanket that it’s all good now and they are happy with their make. I also posted that anyone who had purchased the pattern in its early days would be able to get the amended version if they just let me have their email address. So I’d be happy to forward the file to you if you like.
Secondly, my blog post yesterday was not intended to ‘tell everyone how marvellous I am’ and again I’m sorry that you got that impression. The purpose was give a little info on the background of how I came to be a crocheter. At this advanced age I hadn’t intended to be publishing patterns, but the blankets I posted on Instagram became quite popular and I was asked for the patterns. The appeal seems to be the colour palettes I use and I thought some background on how I got to this point would be useful.
Anyway, as I say I take all criticism on board and thank you for your comment.
your comment was totally out of order it is so important to share our life stories
the reply was for jane bishop not you I am not to good with my laptop
Aw, thank you for your message of support x
What a mean nasty person you are.
Sorry that you received rude comments. Enjoyed hearing your story. So many bitter and angry folk who won’t own their own anger but need to deflect it. Love your work…though feel a bit anxious about making all
the patterns, haha. However, very limited social life ad won’t hardly be out for next year. I’m 73 and find crochet calms me. Currently making up the Shandon blanket with my left over will before making it in your colours. Making mistakes and learning fast…only been crocheting six months. Stay well. Your mother sounds incredible. Remember the happy times.
Don’t worry, Kathleen. I’m thick skinned, but thank you for your support. It is very much appreciated.
Crochet certainly is calming ( at least for most of us!😉) and it has been a godsend for a lot of people over the past few months.
Do you know about my Facebook group, Colour and Crochet with Woolthreadpaint?
It’s not a huge group, but very friendly and welcoming. The idea was for it to be somewhere for people to show their finished blankets made from my patterns, and also to ask for help if they get stuck on something.
There are some beautiful blankets appearing on it. You would be most welcome!
No, I don’t. I will look it up. Tend to avoid internet because of such anger flying around. Cheers and thanks.
What a beautiful story of you and your lovely mother, I love the designs of your blankets and have just bought the pattern for the Winter Season Blanket! Your mum must be so proud of your achievements as she follows your creations from where she is now!
Thank you Sandra, and also thank you for buying the pattern. I hope you get a lot of enjoyment from it. x
I loved your story. It was so warm and and loving.
I loved reading your story. I felt like I was there with you through your journey.
Reading of your early life was like looking in a mirror including the embroidery at art college. I still have my ninety two year old mother from whom I inherited a lovely of all things crafty. It is very sad now as she has dementia, seeing her getting out the same knitting she has been working on for over two years. She fiddles with for a while then puts it back in it’s bag with a sigh of I don’t know who it will fit, as great grand children come and grow. Like you I also have only been crocheting for about four years but have not produced anywhere near as much as you. I love your blankets and I keep going. My husband has joined the ‘ how many blankets do you need’ brigade maybe he will get it one day.
It sounds like we are leading parallel lives. It is so sad to see the decline in elderly parents but I guess we have to accept it as part of the circle of life. Ninety two is a good age to reach and maybe although it’s frustrating, even the act of getting the knitting out of the bag and holding familiar items help het to keep in touch with her past.
My husband went through that same stage as yours – the blanket bafflement I call it – but he’s learned to keep quiet and even turns a blind eye to the regular boxes of yarn which get delivered!
Just found your lovely granny square afghan pattern on Etsy and was directed here. I love your memoir about your dear Mom and the sweet photo of her with you in your pram. I’m sure your Mom is looking over your shoulder you create such beautiful fiber artworks. My own Mom was not so inclined but always encouraged me in sewing, crocheting or whatever I wanted to try. I especially envy your eye for color and color combinations. Thanks for a beautiful site!
I found you during a long night looking for a project to crochet in memorial for my Mother who passed away on March 28th. I was always making Mother handmade gifts. Cross stitch, crochet, baked goods, etc. I moved 1400 miles from my Mother back in 2009. But I still sent her handmade gifts. Almost 4 years ago, Mother suffered a massive stroke the morning after a very successful hip replacement surgery. It paralyzed her right side, damaged her speech, and erased her memories of us girls and her life. She was childlike and happy. I made a lapghan for her to keep her legs warm in her wheelchair. A hug from me so far away. Then the lockdown came and the loneliness and isolation took it’s toll. Mother had what they think was a mini stroke. She spent 6 days with Hospice care. I could not get home to her, so I did my vigil here. I spent many long hours praying, talking with my sisters who were gathered with Mother, and just waiting for her suffering to be over. Lots of coffee, no sleep, and tears. I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours early on Palm Sunday morning. I was completely overwhelmed by a feeling of relief and peace. 20 minutes later, my sister messaged me to tell me Mother had passed away peacefully about 15 minutes before. Just at the time I had felt the relief and peace. There was to be no service, viewing, or anything. My sister told me that she would send me the blanket I had made or she would send it with Mother to her cremation. I had them send it with my Mother. So, I started looking for a blanket to make for a memorial for her. I found your beautiful patterns. I shared two of them with my sisters and friends and they all decided that Vintage Floral would have been my Mother’s choice. I joined your lovely group on Facebook and have been reading your blog. I am so pleased to meet you. Thank you for sharing your story. From across the pond, you have given me a beautiful gift that I can make to celebrate my Mother’s life and hold her memories. God bless you. Looking forward to more of your blog and your beautiful patterns.
What a sad but lovely story of family love. I hope you find comfort in the process of crocheting the blanket in memory of your mother.
Crochet is one of the most therapeutic crafts, allowing time to think and be mindful, while the hands are busy. Take care x
What lovely memories you have of your mother!!! I am 68, now. When I was 17, my Mother ( who loved learning) had found that a local department store was offering free knitting and crochet classes. They only required that we buy our supplies from them. We took the knitting class first, and each came away with a sweater and skirt. Then we took the crochet class, and we each came home with a shawl. I have never stopped crocheting since then!!! My Mom never really caught on, but she had such fun trying!!! She fell asleep in death in 2018, just 8 months after my beloved Dad, at the age of 89. She was a wonderful cook…and supported me enthusiastically in ANY endeavor!!! Crocheting helped me keep my sanity and calm in stressful moments through all the doctor/hospital visits for both my parents, as their health declined. I recommend crocheting to everyone, as a balm, therapy, and stress reliever!!!
Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds very much like you had an upbringing like mine, with the legacy of love and support we owe to our parents. X
Thank you for sharing your story. It really is moving and inspiring. My grandmother was a perfect embroiderer and I used to sleep in those White embroidered sheets (with White initials) when I would spend my holidays by my grandfather in the south of France. I never had the chance to meet her as she died of breast cancer aged 44 only… But I love her just the same for leaving embroidery and crafting in my life ! Congratulations for everything you did and still do ❤️
Thank you for your beautiful story and beautiful crochet patterns. 💕
Marian I only recently discovered you and your gorgeous patterns and blankets…( when you were up at Blair Atholl) an area we love to visit…
Your story was lovely to read and what a wonderful life your mum gave you…My mum could knit,sew and bake but neither of us could ever master crochet…mum dad and my 4 siblings emigrated to the United States in 1977 where she discovered cross stitch which wasn’t readily available here at that time so she used to send me patterns and the threads and so we both made quite a few pieces of work…
Back to the crochet….3 years ago at the young age of 34 our son in law passed away very suddenly from a cardiac arrest…his mum is an avid crocheter and so I would visit her once a week and she would teach me and so began my journey..I love it…I’m not very good and don’t seem to be able to follow a pattern but I’m going to have a go when you bring the Blair Atholl one out until then I will keep on with my baby blankets some of which I donate to the charity shop….💖
Thank you for sharing your story, Anne. It was so sad to hear about your son in law, but spending time with his mother and crocheting together, must have brought you both some peace.
I will get going with the Blair Atholl blanket just as soon as I’ve had a little crochet break. I need it after finishing my latest pattern!
Thank you Marian…♥️
Thank you very much Marion for sharing your story. I think we belong to that generation who was inspired and motivated by our strong and hard working mothers and grandmothers. I also picked up crochet after knitting for about 10 years ..Since school days, my mother insisted on my learning knitting, embroidery and cooking along with my university education. She proudly displayed my work o her friends.Once she brought a beautiful machine embroidered saree with roses in cross stitch pattern to show me. As it was machine embroidery, she was sad not to have it. I made the same pattern and Whole saree was scattered with beautiful roses in cross stitch. I used a net, embroidered cross stitch on it and drew away all the thread of net….It was a gift she cherished and when the saree was old and torn, she made scarf out of that and then dusters as she wanted to keep it as long as she could. She was my Inspiration and whenever someone praises my humble work, i transfer that praise to my mom as my gratitude to her.
your story motivated e to to share mine as i feel, we are somewhere deeply connected.
Thanks onceagain for sharing your story and beautiful work.
What a lovely story, thank you so much for sending it. The saree sounds absolutely beautiful and obviously was made, and received with great love. We were very lucky, and privileged to have that legacy from our mothers.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. What a beautiful life your mother had! Best wishes for younand you family
What an absolutely beautiful story. I am in tears – in a good way. I just recently discovered you on Instagram and instantly fell in love with the Touch of Frost blanket. Your patterns are so elegant and your color combinations are stunning. Thank you for sharing this very personal story with us. It will make my experience crocheting your patterns all the more special.
Thank you for your heartfelt and interesting story!
That is a beautiful story about your mother. Shed a few tears reading it. Missing my mom. Love your blankets. Can’t decide which to make first. Please keep creating more!