Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Mother Keeps Me Busy - 1936 - 1940

My Mother Keeps  Me Busy       

    We lived on a rent farm called the Johnson place 2 miles south of Hope Minn from 1936 to 1940.  I was 8 years old at the time we moved to this farm.

    I was about 9 years old when my Mother taught me to tat.  Tatting is a lace made with a small shuttle and your left hand is the loom.  Oh what a difficult skill it turned out to be.  You wrap the no 30 crochet thread around your left hand and then by using the shuttle you make what is called in macramé a larks head knot.   The knot have to slip on the thread that you hold in your left hand or you have a hard knot that has to be picked out or it won’t work.  I made lots of hard knots that had to be taken out and worked in the correct manner.  Finally I learned how to make the lace and from then on would make a little of it every year.

    I was about 58 years old when I was urged to teach a tatting class.  An elderly woman lived nearby my daughter on Virginia Ave and I felt certain that she was an expert at creating tatting.  She told me to come to her house and she would share her expertise with me.  I visited her about 6 times and my skill level and knowledge increased ten fold. I taught the class and I had one student that learned, practiced and became proficient at tatting.  After teaching the class I decided to design a small piece of tatting and take it to the Blackwell Fair.  The small piece of tatting consumed about 100 hours of my time.  However I won a blue ribbon at the Blackwell Fair.

    The following year I entered the tatting in the Okla City Fair and came home with a Red ribbon.  This came about by learning a difficult skill as a young child.

    I started another project when I was about 10 years old.  If I remember correctly I read an article in the Farmer’s Wife magazine about how to weave a rug.  The instructions were in the magazine and I proceeded to make my loom.  I grubbed up 4 lath boards, which were used behind your walls as a base to which plaster was applied, for my loom.  I put nails into the short sides so I could string my threads around the nails.  I used binder twine for my warp threads and my weaving threads. 

    I don’t remember how many days I spent making the rug but I did finish it and my Mother used it in front of the kitchen door to help keep dirt out of the house.

    Binder twine was used in our oats binder machine to wrap around the golden oats when it was cut in the filed.  The wrapped oats were called bundles.  We then had to gather the bundles together and make them into shocks.  We used about 6 bundles for each shock and they were shaped into the form of a pyramid.  The reason we shocked the oats was so the men could pitch the shocks into a high sideboard wagon and bring to the barn yard to the thrashing machine.  The golden oats straw was belched out of a long metal spout to the straw stack and the oats fell into the grain wagon.  When the grain wagon was full it was taken to the grainery and unloaded by muscle power with a long handled scoop shovel.

    The straw was made into a stack with a wooden platform as a base.  I remember pigs rooting the straw out of the stack and using the straw stack as a resting place.

    The binder twine was made out of hemp and the twine was also used to make ropes by twisting 2 lengths together and dropping it to the ground to twist.  Enough about binder twine oats and the rug.

    When I was in my mid 60’s I read an article in Threads magazine about weaving a small necklace.  I bought some Styrofoam tile and pushed bankers pins in it to make a loom.  I used linen thread for my warp and I used embroidery thread for my weaving.  I inserted beads into my warp threads and also did a little tatting with beads inserted in the tatting.  I also entered this  necklace in the Okla City Fair and came home with another blue ribbon.  The things I learned and persisted at as a child turned into enjoyable hobbies when I reached adulthood.  I think you can do almost anything if you keep working and try to finish your projects.

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