365 Days of Earrings

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Room of Her Own

As I type, I'm wearing these fleece cap earrings, miniatures of the 22 child-sized hats I sewed this weekend, humming along to Christmas music, ensconced in the room I took over when my daughter Kathe got married and moved away.

These earrings dangle way too low. They're ridiculous. But as I was tracing patterns and cutting fleece and sewing caps this morning, I got to thinking about what cute little ornaments a tiny pair would make. 

So after taking a break this afternoon to work on some other projects, I fished some scraps out of the trash and fashioned these mini-caps. Just to see if I could. My first fleece earrings, and probably my last. But I'll enjoy seeing them dangling from my Christmas trees for years to come. And I'll think of my mother's mother, Mema, as I always do when I sew.

My mother hated to sew. One of her mother's major pasttimes was sewing, and my mother felt that she could never live up to the high standards she set. Why bother, when her mother could whip up anything in no time. "I guess sewing just skipped a generation," my mother would say, happy to see me using her sewing machine just for fun.
My grandfather converted an attic room into a sewing room from which Mema could both watch and escape the activity of her 6 children as they romped outdoors, and especially under the massive oak tree in their backyard where the neighborhood children gathered. Granddaddy called that room the Pumpkinshell, after the nursery rhyme Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater.

Mema's sewing room was her quiet refuge, where she could retreat from the bustle of her family. He put her in a pumpkinshell, and there he kept her very well. A room of one's own, Virgina Woolf suggested, is important for a woman if she wants to be a writer. Woolf was born in 1882, just three years after Louisa Fisk Gale, my Mema. Creative women do need rooms of their own.

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