"But, really, why does anyone create? You feel a... a restlessness inside, a need to make something new, something no one has ever seen before. You want to add to the beauty and the richness of the world with a gift, an offering that is uniquely yours. It's an act of selfishness and generosity, all rolled into one."

-- Bruce Coville,
The Last Hunt

Thursday, May 31, 2012


While we were in Colorado, my cousin Abby presented me with a bag of items crocheted and embroidered by our ancestors. There's no way of knowing exactly who made what, but all of it dates back to our great-grandmother or older. Much of it is stained or torn, but the quality of the work is beautiful. There are also a few pieces of machine-made lace, "boughten stuff", as they would have called it, which I didn't bother to photograph.

I must apologize for the quality of the photos; the window frame and the back of the chair created some unfortunate shadows, but there was no other place in the apartment that would have been any better. Also, I took the pictures in a bit of a hurry, as my feline overlord was most displeased at having been tricked into getting shut in the other room.

This is one end of a long embroidered table runner; the other end is the same.

A table centerpiece, with four matching napkins, done in applique and embroidery.

Another runner, with embroidery and a colorful crochet border.

Including the crochet, this piece is 9 1/2 inches wide and 49 inches long. The fabric is linen, and the unbordered edge is the selvedge of the fabric. The only thing I can imagine it being used for is a scarf on top of the parlor organ, but maybe someone else has another idea.

An apron with crocheted trim.

This is an interesting piece, a yoke that also has sleeves, or at least armholes. I assume someone was intending to make a blouse or nightgown to attach this to, but never got around to the sewing part. In any case, it seems like an unusual item for a Mennonite woman of over 100 years ago; they generally would have been much more plain in their dress, although they could have whatever decoration they wanted around the house. This makes me suspect that this piece was probably intended for a nightgown, because who would know?

There are several pieces where the end is joined back to the beginning, which were obviously intended to be sewn onto fabric centers to make doilies. Again, they didn't quite get to that part-- now I know where I get that from!

These two matching pieces must have been intended to hang off of something, because they don't lie flat. Lampshades, maybe.

A collar with tassels, and a short length of edging for unknown purpose.

This large doily or antimacassar in filet crochet has somehow managed to remain in pristine condition. Unfortunately, I can't put it out, because Squijum would not allow it to remain in pristine condition for long.

Finally, the one "boughten" item that I did choose to photograph, because of the card that was wrapped up with it. It's a silk scarf, but a very plain one, in keeping with Mennonite sensibility. Lois Windsor was my grandma, so Grandma Moyer would have been my great-great-great-grandma.


  1. Wow - amazing items... Love that antimacassar!
    Fox : )

  2. Hi Miranda,
    I can identify some of those pieces, because I passed them to Abby when I moved out of the US and couldn't imagine continuing to carry them with me, even though I loved them. They didn't all come from the family, which explains why some didn't look Mennonite, but they're all old.

    The embroidered table cloths and runners were done by my Aunt Pauline Rensberger, your Grandpa Rensberger's sister.

    The tatted collars and edgings came from a big box of assorted laces I inherited from an old woman named Mrs. Briggs who came from a wealthy family in Goshen. She was in her 90s when I cleaned house for her when I was a teenager about 40 years ago, and when she died, her daughter gave me these pieces. They came from her family, which was definitely not Mennonite, which explains the worldliness. They would probably come from the latter half of the 19th century.

    I've found that the yellowed tatted pieces whiten up rapidly with a little chlorine bleach. You'd think it would destroy them, but in fact the thread is tough. Just wash them by hand and rinse them the moment they get white.

    Aunt Susan

    1. Hi Susan, the laces you got from Mrs. Briggs were in a different box, which I posted about at http://tattingfool.blogspot.com/2011/05/lace.html, unless some of them got mixed up with this bag-- perfectly possible, of course. Everything in the bag Abby gave me was either embroidered or crocheted, no tatting.

      It is interesting to know that some of the work was done by Pauline. I had been assuming that it was all the work of Moyer or Buzzard women.

      I'm just going to keep pretending that the crochet was all done by the family, because I like the idea of one of my Mennonite ancestresses making herself a lace nightie!

  3. Ohhh myyyy goodness! such beautiful treasures!

  4. How wonderful to find these treasures from the past, Never mind that time has faded them or stained with age, They are heirlooms that can never be repeated.