Needle Craft

My girlfriends report that their 1930s wife scores are in the 30s and their rating is poor. Their modern attitudes are exactly why I want to be their buddy. I like to bask in their liberation. I guess I’m not all that superior by second millennium standards.

Naomi takes the cake with a score of -7. Who knew that was even possible? Interestingly, she has been married for at least as long as I have and seems quite content in her marriage. I’d be more confident in asserting her marital happiness if her husband was an equally rotten 1930s hubby. The other interesting thing is that she teaches preschool. You would think that would be in her favor score-wise, but you’d be wrong. She spends too much of her time talking to kids about fair and equitable treatment in addition to respecting others.

This begs the question that if I’m in this fast crowd with fast womyn, why is my score skewed toward traditional wifeyhood? I have a few answers. My first is that I’m a good test taker. I think I mentioned this. The second is that the questions are problematic. For example, “Do you wear a dirty apron?” I don’t wear an apron, therefore I don’t wear a dirty one. I have been salivating over some aprons recently, so that might change. For now, no apron. The third is that I have romanticized the traditional roles of women because I have never known a traditional woman.

Skip past this paragraph if you already know the family history. My great grandmother was a widowed mother of 3 girls. My grandmother was a widowed mother. My mother followed her family path for women and also worked to support the family. My dad’s family set the same example for me. My grandmother owned and ran her own store with no man in her life and my grandmother worked all the way up to executive vice president of a major bank with little more than a high school diploma.

Somewhere those women learned some important domestic skills. My grandmother sewed the most beautiful French seams. It just never came to me. When I was in my 20s, my mother decided to teach me “huck toweling”, which I’ve heard others call “Swedish toweling.” Yes, it’s a child’s craft, but I have childlike skills. Anyway, she had towels but no good floss and she wasn’t looking to make anything beautiful anyway, just clean out her closet. The floss we used came from the friendship bracelets I made instead of paying attention in Algebra.

My mother decided that we would do “pattern samples” rather than create something that either of us would cherish. We thought about making more, but huck towels are TOO EXPENSIVE and the idea faded. Now that I have a daughter, maybe I should rethink that. Let me know if you find a good price on real huck towels, not the terry/huck blend or the stiff junk. ANYWAY, my mother’s attention to detail on the project was still impeccable considering they are just pattern samples. She had us do smaller designs on the no-show backs and she fringed the edges. Nice, huh?

I DO cherish these stained pattern samples. I liked the time with my mother. She’s like the rest of the women in my family and can do pretty much whatever she puts her mind to doing. I’m not sure that these generations of women were particularly fond of men. My great grandmother didn’t wash boys and girls clothes together because boys were dirty. My grandmother (not the French seams one who was a widow) housed her husband in a bedroom as far from hers as she could get. My mother tried, but after a couple of generations of widows ahead of her, maybe she didn’t expect my dad to live as long as he has.

Now, for the peek into my 1930s superior wifesmanship, perhaps I have romanticized the traditional marital roles as a rebellion. Sometimes, it’s not worth the bother. Most of the time, it pays off. If Jesse didn’t appreciate my efforts, they would go by the wayside a long time ago. As it stands, I get coffee with love notes delivered to my bedside in the morning and ice cream sundaes in the evening. Also, I think a person’s score will change on this kind of quiz over time. I won’t always be a superior 1930s wife. Right now, I am. I did my first ever embroidery project to give to Jesse to show him my gratitude for not giving me crap for being imperfect.

I used George’s Klutz book for inspiration and direction. The saguaro, native to the Sonoran Desert, is a couch stitch with four strands on the top thread and two to pin it down. The ground, which should be more brown, is a four-strand stem stitch, and the sun is a four (?, I can’t remember) strand back stitch. Since the hankie was a delicate close weave, I used a delicate needle.

And now back to my wifely duties….

Share your thoughts.