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Nothing Will Embrace You With Love Like Grandma's Handmade Clothes
I don’t remember much from my childhood, but I will never forget the dresses. My grandma made the best dresses in the world. A red one with tiny white hearts, at least a few checkered ones, all with snow white detachable collars so they could be washed separately. No other girl I knew had as beautiful dresses as I did.
You’d never see me in a dress when I was a teenager. But when I was 5 years old the dresses were everything. My grandma sew clothes and sold them when she was younger and there was nothing to do around the farm during the long winter months. She knew how to make a wonderful dress.
It never occurred to me I could be making clothes too. I modified some as a teen, but mostly to make them look more punk and worn off. Since then, my most ambitious project was painting and cutting a large unisex T-shirt to turn it into a colorful hippie crop top. That’s still more handmaking than most of my friends ever did.
I only took up crochet after my daughter was born. It’s not like I could get anything else done anyway. With interruptions every few seconds even reading was out of question, but I found out I did have enough brainpower to follow a simple tutorial. That was enough to get me hooked on crocheting YouTube.
One and a half years later I’m still a crocheting newbie. Out of all the things I’ve made for my daughter, she only ever wore two. I don’t blame her, I’m not wearing the hat I’ve made for myself either. The yarn just feels like plastic and does not spark joy.
Last year I’ve spent two months making a warm winter sweater which turned out to be too stiff and thick. There’s this beautiful dress I made for a wedding that has been postponed three times and is now postponed indefinitely that she didn’t even want to try on. And even if something does seem to please her like the 5-color cardigan I made during our last RV trip, it gets dirty fast. I’m scared it will get ruined in the washing machine, but dissatisfied with the results of washing it by hand.
My daughter told me recently she wants a yellow poncho. I was tired of pouring all my heart into a sweater that got never worn, but agreed to give it a try. To make sure it’s not too stiff I bought the softest yarn this time, way too soft to protect her from the wind and cold.
I don’t know if my poncho will be of any use to her, but there’s only one way to find out. And so we’re spending our evenings together with the dog and a ball of yellow thread. One row while singing a lullaby while she’s snuggling under a blanket. Another while she’s building a house for her LEGO pig. A small bit when reading a book together, with small breaks every few seconds to turn the page. This is the first crocheting project where my kid knows what’s going on. She checks on the progress and says she wants it even longer still.
I really wish this wasn’t the case, but in my experience handmade clothes are quite a pain in the ass. Not only it takes ages to make one, they’re also much more fragile than anything I’d bought in a store. If I ruin one, I’ll be much more disappointed, and so I keep putting effort into maintaining them with very mixed results. My daughter is unlikely to ever love her huge winter sweater. If only I knew it before starting this project and channeled my labor of love into something else.
And yet, I still choose to put in all this time and effort, especially now that she knows and sees what I’m doing. When she wears this poncho, she’ll be embraced by all the love and care that we’ve both put together into making it. Yes, it is a pain in the ass now, but she’s totally worth it, and I want her to know that she is worth all that effort. And if I practice enough, maybe I’ll have it all figured out by the time I have a tiny granddaughter in need of beautiful clothes.
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