I’ve had this post saved up for a little while now. I recently inherited another remarkable family heirloom, but felt that its ‘debut’ deserved a special day. Then it occured to me, what better day than Valentine’s, the day of love? Not just romantic love, but love of family, friends- even crafting!
The item is a crochet bedspread that my grandmother sent me. Now, I don’t do too much crochet (though I’ve mastered granny squares in the past) but I know enough to realize that this blanket is the product of remarkable skill. And while I tend toward color, I love the simple elegance of all-white yarn which shows off the delicate and alternating stitches:
This photo doesn’t at all capture the size: it’s actually quite large- but you can get a sense of the hexagonal pattern. It’s so lovely and, like the yo yo quilt, so full of family history- not to mention family love. There’s a remarkable story behind it, which my grandmother explained to me in an email. It was made by her Grandmother Dahlberg (my great-great-grandmother) for my grandmother when she married my grandfather in January 1951, just after he got out of Marines boot camp. To tell the rest of the story, I’m reprinting my grandmother’s words since I couldn’t possibly capture it better myself:
Grandma and Grandpa Dahlberg lived all their lives in the suburbs of St. Louis. Their greatest dream was to retire to a farm. So they found a place and bought it several years before he could retire. However, the day the moving van left with all their furniture, Grandpa didn’t feel well. They felt they had to drive out to the farm in order to be there for the truck, so my brother, Paul, went with them to help out. The next day grandpa had a massive heart attack, and the country doctor declared him deceased. Grandma wanted to get back to St. Louis to family to have him buried there, so Paul and the doctor put grandpa in the back seat of their big old Plymouth. Paul, who was 17 at the time, drove Grandma and Grandpa back to St. Louis. They drove to J.B. Smith Funeral Home in Maplewood so arrangements could be made.
Grandma tried to stick it out on the farm, but it was lonely and the only income she had was a very small social security check. She would stay with various family members several weeks at a time. When she stayed with my mother, she and I shared a bedroom, and between our beds was a sunny window on the second floor with a cedar chest under it. Grandma would take her small check and buy a ball of yarn the first of the month and crochet one of these squares, which is her own pattern. I still can see her sitting in the sunny window with her fingers flashing away while I worked on homework at my desk. She made one of these bedspreads for each of her grandchildren.
So this bedspread has a sad but love-filled story behind it. Personally, I love how these items store up their own histories and I love imagining the creative women from whom I descend. Though I may not have known them, we are bound by the love of family and our common love of handcraft.