Sunday, July 14, 2013

For Grandma

When my paternal grandmother went into a nursing home, I was living in Massachusetts. I could visit only rarely when I went back to western New York, but I didn't forget her. I sent letters every few months, and as Christmas approached, I thought for a long time about a gift that would be practical and not take up much space in her small room.


At the time, I was getting back into cross stitching after college and thought myself super smart to be taking designs apart and recombining them in new ways. It was simple stuff that I was doing, but it felt more creative than simply using a pattern as written. Even changing colors felt daring.


One evening, I was looking through a pattern book of edgings and I had a wonderful idea--I would stitch an edging for a bath towel and put Grandma's name on it so that it would always come back to her.


My grandmother's favorite color was orange. She even had my parents paint the bedroom in her house orange. When we were young my sister and I thought that was funny. Who would have guessed that now in our 40s, we are also both partial to orange?


Because of her preference, I chose a pattern of pale orange buds and green leaves and added a simple green boarder on each side. I stitched it onto 2" Aida tape. There were a total of 11 pattern repeats--5 1/2 on each side of her name, "Anna," stitched in the darkest peachy orange.


It took forever to stitch. I didn't calculate in advance how many pattern repeats I would need, and I was surprised at how big the towel seemed once I started stitching. I probably could have done one more repeat on each side, but I tuckered out and figured that no one would see the edges of the towel anyway. I did make sure that the boarders went all the way to the edge, however.


I was so excited when I sent her this towel, but I don't think she ever used it. When she died several years later, my mother saved the towel to give back to me and it was in pristine condition. Hopefully she at least hung it in her bathroom to look at.


I, however, have used it. And yes, the white toweling isn't as white as it once was. But every time I use it, I remember my grandmother. Grandma wasn't a sewer--she was a college-educated school secretary--but I still have a beautiful embroidered memory of her.

My grandmother in a photo dated around 1934.



  1. I understand why your Grandma never used the towel it was a treasure to her that you have so lovingly made. I tend not to use what my daughters buy for me, even mugs are in a cupboard unused, mind you sometimes they are put away because I do not like them!! I also have things that I had given my Mum that she had kept and now I have them back as she passed away in 2006 aged 92. Unfortunately my Granny passed away in 1956 when I was 9 but I still have two minature chest of drawers she gave me which I would never part with.

    1. Margaret, I saw stitch Magazine for the first time today with your biscornu pattern. Excellent! I had never seen the magazine in the States before.