The Work of our Ancestors

I feel a great sense of connection to those who came before me as I craft. I conjure up images of former times and imagine what it would be like if I were able to visit a knitting circle years ago.  I expect my skills would be found rather lacking!

I often think of my Grandmother, and her love of knitting. I also remember sisters Doris and Ethel, who never married. They were family friends already rather old when I was a small child and known to themselves and others as “spinsters” who were both extremely talented crafters. Doris was an  amazing dress maker and I remember several occasions standing on a chair with my arms out while she circled around me, tucking and pinning here and there umming at me with pins in her mouth to hold still. I had a lot of lovely frocks made by her. She made it seem effortless and she never expected much praise. I wish I still had some of those dresses but I will not forget. Now more than ever, I hold in high regard and remember with wonder the lovely things made by those humble hands.

The human soul flourishes in it’s relationship to the things it creates. Our ancestors had a real relationship to the tools, materials and final products they worked with. Their work gave them meaning and purpose. The loss of ones craft due to illness of old age would often lead to the loss of life itself. They craved work, in the same way we might crave entertainment today.

I wonder if the types of entertainment we often seek are fulfilling. I certainly do enjoy the many things life today has to offer in the way of entertainment, but it doesn’t compare to the sense of being at one with the world I can find when my hands are creating something.


  1. Heathergale says:

    I loved reading these’s exactly how how I feel about the crafting that has been passed down to me, one of my most treasured pieces came from a grandma on my husbands side. After she and her sisters were orphaned they found themselves living in Mullers orphanage in Bristol. She remained there until she was a young lady, nursing the sick. After she died my late mother in law passed me some scraps of fabric from one of grandmas suitcases she didn’t want. In it was a sampler which Grandma May had made as a very young child in Mullers…all the girls were encouraged to do them and they are all very distinctive as they have common patterns and are in red predominantly. I had the sampler framed and I noticed one day that it had all her sisters names embroidered on along with her friends names, I love old samplers and embroideries and try and collect as many as I can…only from thrift shops mind!:-). Check online as the Mullers samplers are wellknown!

    • Clare says:

      That’s something really special! It’s lovely that you have the story behind it too! I also love samplers, especially old ones. I like to cross stitch and embroider and I try to make them in the same vintage style, only the history is missing!

  2. Julie says:

    This is a beautiful sentiment, and I agree. I remember my grandmother socializing a lot around knitting and needlework. Our generation has opened up so many more possibilities for women which I benefit from, such as travel and career, but I appreciate her life pattern as well. My son never knew her (or even her son/my dad/his grandfather, for that matter), but each night I tuck him into bed under a warm blanket she crocheted long ago. What a blessing to warm him with her love!

    • Clare says:

      It is wonderful that we have more opportunities and choice these days, but I hope we continue to pass on such things as that blanket 🙂

  3. rachel says:

    This was a lovely, reflective post! I often feel that my time crafting or cooking it the most well spent — it nourishes my mind and it feels that I’ve been most useful by making something with my hands.

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