Sunday, December 19, 2010

From Someone Special to Something Special

(I apologize in advance – this may be a doozie)

Have you ever known someone that has been so associated with something that they almost become synonymous?  Not in a one for one replacement but more of a direct remembrance of a person every time you see/hear/smell the thing.

That is how it is with our maternal Grandpa and overalls.  When it was up to him, which it usually was, he was in a pair of blue and white striped denim overalls.  One of the best gifts I ever received as a child was a pair of overalls that matched Grandpa’s.  I was over the moon – even at age four I felt the connection. 

Lindsay and I have been blessed far beyond most when it comes to the time we have been given with all four of our grandparents.  I remember when the subject of grandparents would come up in grade school, even then at that young age I was one of the only kids that had all four grandparents alive and active in my life (and even a couple great grandparents.)

But in August of last year, the inevitable happened, the time we would have with our Grandpa in this life came to an end.  It was difficult as you can imagine – after 28 years (more years than that for my sister because she's OLDER– I had to lighten this post somehow) you get really used to someone being there.

The first time I visited our Grandma after Grandpa's passing, I went with my mom.  We were going through the house when I noticed a large bag of all my Grandpa’s overalls sitting on the floor.  I knew immediately that I wanted to keep them – though at the time I had NO plans for them – in the moment I saw the bag and I felt that strong connection to my Grandpa. My Grandma made some comment about if I really wanted the old stained overalls I was more than welcome to them - but I know she knew why I wanted them.
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Since then the bag has sat in my sewing room waiting for the right project.  

When our Great Grandma passed away, my sister made wonderful teddy bears, for each great grandchild, out of one of our Great Grandma’s white chenille blankets.  It seemed like the perfect use for the blanket.  But not quiet right for Grandpa’s overalls.
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I am not sure where the idea originated, but my sister suggested Christmas stockings!
And almost as vaguely as the idea was hatched, it was determined to come to fruition.  It just seemed right.

I am not sure how your family does Christmas – but for our family, there has always seemed to be an emphasis on STOCKINGS!  I love them – the zaniness of some of the items our mom (ah hem. . . Santa) finds, unwrapping all the tiny gifts (yes our family wraps stocking gifts.), the occasional "oops" of someone finding something in their stocking that was intended for someone else, watching our mom act surprised as she opens everything (though as of last year my sister and I (..er Santa?) took over the task of filling her stocking) but anyway I could go on and on of the greatness of stockings. . .

This stocking obsession has gone on as far back as I can remember – and it originated with my maternal grandparents.

The stockings we have used – since the beginning of time (or at least my time) are ones that my Grandma made.  They are great – but they are starting to show their age.

Add to all this the way holiday’s have of bringing those we have lost to mind, and you have the perfect recipe for our Grandpa’s overalls.
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I started to work on the stockings, using our current stockings as a size reference (they are a bit larger than the average stocking). And I used the Purl Bee tutorial as a guide for the cuff.
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We used the overalls as is – stains…
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patches….
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and pockets.

My sister did most of the hard work – or at least the part I was not looking forward to.  She cut out all the overall pieces.  No small task.

The overall pieces were sewn to a muslin cuff lining piece because we were limited in the amount of over-all fabric.  There was also a muslin lining piece that was sewn to the wool cuff piece because there wasn't enough wool to line the whole stocking.

I found this project enjoyable.  Getting to work with the worn materials, softened by washes and years of wear. There were times I found myself just sitting with the overall stocking piece running my hands across the fabric and thinking of times with my Grandpa.  Sometimes there were tears, but mostly there were smiles. 
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We used the red wool because our Mom has memories of Grandpa in a red wool button down shirt. But we didn't have enough yardage of red wool to do the cuffs on all the stockings, so we substituted with some green wool from my Grandma’s stash (formerly blogged about here.)
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For those of you good at math and aware of the number of current members of our family – you may notice that there are more stockings than people.  Our mom requested we make “extras just in case.”  My sister and I think we may be getting a little brother.  HA!
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In any event, we now have a way to directly recall our very special Grandpa through these very special overall stockings.

Merry (Early) Christmas!

~Michelle

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