Burning libraries

by dixie

Seeing the Wanderer’s post at the top of Cobweb for so long has given me the beginnings of the flu. I need to write something before this gets much worse.

I learned to crochet from a venerable Southern woman who assumed the unenviable responsibility of being my family’s primary babysitter while I was growing up. She was born in 1900, and many of the streets around the local high school are named for her family (who had owned lots of that land). She taught Mountain Goat and me the basics of crochet and cross-stitch. (Interestingly enough, I was big into the cross-stitch as a kid, but now it makes me a little ill. Whereas the crochet thing didn’t really take at the time, but I picked it up again as a grownup.) I remember a comment she made while she showed me how to cross-stitch using a piece of fabric printed in brown and white squares — that when she was little, she and her sisters had to sort of improvise in order to dress up and prettify their clothes.

Fast forward twenty years, to a long Ravelry thread defending crochet’s utility and beauty, and it occurs to me that a really snazzy way to use crochet would be to make lacy edgings on sleeves, or to extend garments in interesting and graceful ways. I wondered if that’s one of the things this woman was talking about when she made that comment.

It’s been said, “When an old person dies, a library burns.” I’ll never get to ask Mrs. Murdock about her creative uses of crochet (and cross-stitch, though my interest has drifted away from that); she died about a decade ago. Given lots of free time and a travel budget, I could go hunting for physical evidence and draw conclusions on what I find, but it wouldn’t be the same as finding out from her. I don’t have many regrets (having read as an impressionable child the advice “Live so that your tombstone could read ‘No regrets’ “), but I admit to feeling a twinge of sadness that I didn’t know to ask her more when I could.