a tale of tails, tenacity, and tedium, as told by me, usually barefoot and bellowing

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Granny's Ball of Twine

Me, Mom and Granny Pruett

This was taken on a July weekend closest to Granny's birthday, the fifth. We always had a family gathering to celebrate. This picture is at the top farm where I grew up in a three generational family. The pond and the orchard behind us no longer exist.  (Eminent Domain is such a dirty word.)

It was a learning house and a loving house and Granny was our center.  It was her unspoken position as the matriarch of the family.  We continue that tradition today and honor our oldest female for the wisdom of her age.

Granny lived with us many years after Grandpa was gone. She wore aprons with pockets that always had something interesting in them;  a rock, a string, a piece of fruit or, on a rare occasion, gum or candy.  Granny's pockets were like a set of encyclopedias, if you looked often you would find just what you were seeking.

What amazed me most was her constant saving of every string of twine she discovered.  Feed sacks and food sacks were both sewn with a seam of twine.  Thicker than regular sewing thread it could be used for a variety of things. The mystery of choosing the right thread or stitch to begin the unraveling eluded me for years but not Granny.

Granny would carefully gather and wind it on to her ever growing ball of twine. When it reached a size she could no longer comfortably hold she began another.  It will be useful one day, she would answer when I asked why she saved ALL the twine.

The uses were miracles I witnessed with Granny.  This twine could hold a June bug by the leg as he flew above your head.  Twine could hold a chicken.  It could help make a kite and it could make doll clothes and dog collars.

Twine made wonderful string games as Granny taught me "Jacob's Ladder" and "Walking The Dog" and other string tricks I've forgotten the name but never the tricks.  This twine could make a button "sing" and even make music if you were as talented as Granny.

Twine held my hair in a braid and it sewed a braided rug together.  Twine patched jeans and could even be used to catch a fish, make your shirt into a sack to carry things and make wonderful braided necklaces.

And it made quilts.  My first quilts were quilted by Granny and her twine.  She could move that needle so quickly and smoothly through the quilt layers on the frame that hung from our living ceiling (you could quilt and when another job arose you would wind the frame close to the ceiling until you could quilt again).

Oh, the things Granny gave me...the gift of imagination, unlimited possibilities, a strong dose of perseverance and a finely honed sense of humor.

When I prepared for marriage Granny was gone. I knew somehow she approved of my choice of life mate.  I carefully gathered pieces we had made together for my "Hope chest".  I made rag quilts from some of Granny's clothes and my quilts told a story.  When it came time to tack these, I pulled out one of Granny's balls of twine, threaded my needle. sewed the layers of quilt onto the same frame and began to tack.  I think she was with me then, smiling.  That's right, girl, a good strong twine will never let you down.

Granny and the magic of twine will never leave me.

27 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful story, memories and post on your Granny! Grannies are special, I have happy memories of my granny too. Have a happy day and new week ahead!

Josie Two Shoes said...

What wonderful memories of her to treasure, all tied up so beautifully with twine. I loved this!

Gorges Smythe said...

I remember balls of used twine at the homes of both sets of grandparents. Thanks for jogging the memory.

Buttons Thoughts said...

Oh this made me cry my Nanny saved string:) Oh your Granny was a very special woman and I know she would be so proud of you and what you and your husband have done. I think making those quilts with her twine was a special special thing. HUGS B

Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Sweet memories. How neat that you used the twine she saved for your own quilts.
Have a cooler Sunday..(I can always hope for a stray breeze, can't I?) Geesh, it's hot.

Debbie said...

ooohhhhh how lucky you are to have this story to share with us. i enjoyed it so much and the vintage image but, no smiles, i like to see smiles!!!

Sandra said...

this is a great story, and we always had a ball of twine to. but i don't remember who started it. i think it was Daddy. i love seeing pics from the past like this one and hearing memories that are good ones. they taught you well, and you still use all the things you learned from them to this day... my maternal grandmother never wore and apron, because she hated cooking, she passed that down to me.. but she had all the things you found in the pockets but they were in the old desk and the old side bar drawers. i loved to dig in those drawers and find the treasures. but no the teeth that were in a ponds jar...LOL.

McGuffy Ann Morris said...

I love this. These are the ties that bind. Excellent story; well told, my friend. ❤

Linda Kay said...

Delightful. I remember my mother's mother having a quilt frame set up in her dining room. Her thumb was always chewed up with the pricking of the needle as she did the quilting by hand. Her work was perfect, as you could probably measure every stitch to be exactly the same.

Debbie said...

yes...now i do see your smile and the bits of purple!! i'm glad you were smiling!!!

LindaG said...

An amazing, wonderful story, Gail. Thanks for sharing it with us. ♥

Far Side of Fifty said...

What a wonderful Granny! You were blessed:)

Sketching with Dogs said...

Your grandmother sounds like she was a very wise and wonderful lady. In today's throwaway society it makes you smile to think of someone like her who has the foresight to utilise things that would be handy in the future. Great story!
Lynne x

Arkansas Patti said...

What a blessing she was to your family that besides the twine, she left you a treasure trove of really cool memories.
Think my family did that during the war but not so much after.
I so remember those singing buttons. That use to entertain me for hours.

Maggie said...

What a lovely memorial to your grandmother and your roots! So glad she lives on in you and your writing.

Roses around the door... said...

This post is lovely, my nan kept everything and always wore an apron, she was my best friend :)God Bless all granny's xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sandy said...

Gail,

A beautiful tribute to Granny and her twine.
Your Granny taught you many things which kept close to your heart and continued on when you married, and started out on your own. Cherish those wonderful memories!

Farm Girl said...

I love that picture of you and your mom and your granny. That is so sweet. I loved your words and how she saved string and twine. I think that is a wonderful memory. Thank you so much for sharing about your family. I love hearing stories.

Mama Zen said...

this is just wonderful!

Saucy Kodz said...

You were so lucky to have a granny - Mine died before I was born. This is a wonderful story and tribute to your Granny and her ball of twine. My Mum used to save tin foil. Tin Foil off a piece of gum, from chocolate bar wrappers, candy wrappers, cigarette boxes etc. I can remember some of the neighbours saving foil for her too. Thank you Gail for sharing your Granny with us. H to M n lol

Lynne said...

What a fine, fine story . . .
One of truth and life . . .
Granny's Ball of Twine . . .
Loved this . . .

Linda Wildenstein said...

You have touched a heart string this morning. Made me tear at your joy and sweet blessings. xoxo

Karen S. said...

This is such a heart strings post! Lovely grand memories, thanks for sharing them with us. Great photo!

Ida said...

What wonderful memories of your Granny. This was just so nice to read.

Cynthia said...

What a wonderful story, filled with love and memories. I really enjoys reading it and thinking about all the uses your grandma found for something as simple as used string.

Lowcarb team member said...

This is such an amazing post, it must be one of my favourites.

I love the photo and the post brings back so many memories of my Gran and Grandmother. They both used to wear aprons and yes had so many useful things in the pockets.

I too always wear an apron, it's pink and has small roses on it - there are always things in the pockets, I like to keep family tradition going.

I do hope you are having a good week ...

All the best Jan

Carol Henrichs said...

A beautiful story Gail. Oh the use and re-use of everyday items. That is still possible today, although something is lost in the translation. I doubt a beautiful tale will ever be woven about plastic.

And I couldn't agree more with you that eminent domain is a dirty word.

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