I don’t know who taught Emma Zina,
but I do know know she taught Rhea Jeanette
and her granddaughter, Frances,
who taught Linda, Evelyn, and me.

First, we learned to cross-stitch.
Then to embroider with strict attention
to the neatness of the back as well as the evenness
of our backstitches, outline stitches, lazy daisies, and French knots.

Next, we learned to knit
Summers spent looking at patterns
Practicing the cast on, knit, purl, yarnover, cable, and bind off.
We felt the pleasure of discerning a yarn’s weight, heft, and drape.

Crochet was not Mama’s favorite of the needlecrafts,
but we still learned how, just so we could do it if we wanted to.
Emma Zina crocheted lace tablecloths and bedspreads.
Pillowcases and kitchen towels had decorative crocheted edges.

There’s a certain itch to have a needle in hand
from more than 100 years of needlecrafting women.

Joy just in the making.


Crocheted Trivet by Emma Zina Player Gawan, (1873-1943)

6 thoughts on “Needlework

  1. I love the opening…the list of names who taught eventually you.
    Great photo, too! Wondering WHO you taught? or did your 21st century kids get these skills passed on to them? My mom taught me to needlepint and croquet (never knitting) but I didn’t stick with it.

  2. Love the names, love the vocabulary (I feel like I am one of the few who know all those embroidery stitches!). Sweet little piece.
    Did you happen to see Adrienne of Books and Bassets slice about being a test knitter? (This month) You might enjoy it.

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