June 28th…“WHEN LIVING ON THE FARM IN MINNESOTA, DID YOUR MOTHER EVER TEACH YOU A CRAFT TO ENJOY THAT SHE HAD LEARNED WHEN SHE WAS YOUNG?”
Cradled in the gentility of a mother’s loving heart are the desires to share the joys and knowledge she gleaned in her youth with her own sweet progeny. Our precious mother, Clarice, did just that for my sister, Candice, and myself when we were little. Mom’s sewing and embroidery prowess came from her being tutored by her own mother, grandmother and her extended church family. Clarice had been raised in the Lutheran denomination of our Christian heritage and our darling mother warmly recalled being a happy member of an All Girls League (like a club) at her local church of worship. The title of her girls church club was called, “The Lutheran Daughters Of The Reformation”. On regular meetings, Clarice and other High School aged girls would meet at their church for Bible Study, spiritual training and also various homemaking skills and crafts.
As time went on, at their club meetings, two elderly lady “spinsters” (our mother’s terminology for ladies who never married) volunteered to attend the League meetings to share their knowledge of sewing skills to the mid-1930’s generation of young women that included our lovely mother.
It is only too evident that our beloved mother also gleaned more of her sewing and embroidery skills from her precious mother, Amanda Rogness Sletten. Another gracious contributor to Mom’s needle knowledge was our Great Grandmother, Martha Larson Sletten.
The culmination of Mom’s excellent sewing skills manifested themselves to our own generation by the beautiful creations she would make for our own immediate family and also as home-made gifts for others. As just a partial listing, our sweet family matriarch created embroidered dish towels, fancy embroidered pillow cases, artistic wall hangings, gorgeous quilts and the list just went on and on.
As is common for many little children, my sister and I would sometimes come to our mother with the age old saying, “Mom, we’re bored!! There’s nothing to do!!!” This whining became more prevalent during the cold and long winter months when confinement to the house, due to blizzard or icy conditions, was a norm for farm families. Mother, in her wisdom and love for us, would bring out her sewing supplies and also our favorite coloring books. First, we were directed by Mom to find a cartoon page that we wanted to use to create our very own special stitching project. We’d then cut that page out of the coloring book. Another step of this process of creativity was to lay a piece of black-looking paper, called carbon paper, over a piece of linen cloth (that we’d soon be stitching onto, and then finally, place the cartoon page over that carbon paper. Mother showed us how to then take an old, worn-down, well-rounded pencil and begin to trace that pencil along the lines of the cartoon image we wanted to create on the linen cloth on the bottom of this tri-level project. As we moved the dull pencil over the cartoon outline, the carbon paper was transferring its “ink” on to that line image of the cloth below. When we finished every last line of the cartoon tracing, and lifted the coloring page and carbon……..THERE would be our stitching cloth picture; just ready for coloring in with stitching.
I distinctly enjoyed the rainbow of colors that our dear mother had in her collection of embroidery “floss”. No, not like what you use on your teeth before brushing…..this was special sewing string called, floss. Wooden embroidery hoops were also now employed to “capture” the cloth image tightly within a round frame so that we could begin stitching the outline of our horse or princess picture with whatever colors of floss we imagined that they should look like.
Now, the two of us little ones were happily lost in our world of woven wonderment. Sister and I enjoyed countless hours of pleasant pleasures of our own fabric artwork while “Old Man Winter” howled benignly outside of our cozy farm house walls. Those were soft and peaceful memories for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.