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Yarns of My Mother-in-Law

My mother-in-law was a wonderful craftsperson.

She and her sister produced many beautiful things over the course of their lives.

Colourful afghans and shawls flowed from their fingers in blazes of colour.

Red, orange, blue, green, yellow, black—you name it, the brilliantly banded blankets fell in flawless patterns over their knees.

Their baskets of needles, yarn and buttons were always nearby. A comfortable chair, softened with an extra pillow, was the workshop from which these long-lasting heirlooms emerged.

Their projects were not limited to afghans and shawls. Far from it.

My daughter still has a lovely little quilted house, with three little bears tucked inside. There is a little bed with a carefully crafted blanket, and matching rug for the floor, and a couple of little chairs nearby.

Goldilocks would have loved it, and so did my daughter.

My mother-in-law was very artistic, as well as frugal, and refused to be hemmed in by the traditional combinations of colour. Form was her foremost approach, and with that she could master anything.

She was undaunted by a hodgepodge of colour selections. As long as it was the same type of yarn, anything went. So it was that peach, blue-grey, black, red and soft pink would by wound together in a lasting tribute to her bold and unique compositions.

Even though her crafts bore her unique stamp of colour, they were always done with forethought and artistic skill. The cabin has several cushions created with brilliant slashes of ribbon cutting across a black background, while large buttons hover over all. While the colours are very different from the natural world, somehow she reeled in with a firm hand the exact character of brisk, harsh but beautiful landscape in which the cabin sits, and transferred it to those cushion covers.

Her sister had a slightly different approach to crafting. Out of her hands grew little knitted teddy-bears. How many people in Southeastern Ontario have a little bear that arrived in the world by those gentle and rapid hands we may never know.

Crafting seems to bind people too. The things that they created were constant sources of discussion and sharing.

My own crafting ventures have included quilts, vests, dolls and more.

With that amount of crafting going on, there is eventually going to be a crossing of needles and pins.

One Christmas, my mother-in-law and I both made the other a pomander.

A simple orange was carefully covered with cloves, leaving a space for a pretty ribbon to be tied one way, and then crossed over in the other direction, with a loop on the top for hanging.

Before this was done, however, the clove-covered orange was immersed in a concoction of cinnamon and other spices and left for a week to become completely and permanently encapsulated in the sweet, rich aroma.

On Christmas morning, of course, there was much to discuss and to compare the approaches we both had taken.

Like the many things she created over the years, I treasured that little pomander.

There is nothing better than a thing made by someone you know that you can keep forever.

It's also a joy to make these things, to give and to receive.

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