Who are you as a person?
How did you become the person you are today?
My thoughts go back to childhood memories of my Mother. I recall the hours I spent with my Mother. Her marks on every aspect of my life through the lessons, training and ideas she handed down to me.
Mother’s Day seems like the appropriate day to reflect on her-
Esther Luella Kirker McKinney
(1920 – 2007)
From the earliest years of my childhood, I recall spending time at my Grandmother’s house. On one occasion I was there with my Mother and we were beginning a new project. My Mother was teaching me to do embroidery. She had bought a white linen tea towel that was marked with a stamped on pattern. And, the embroidery floss we were using was various shades of blue and gray. I would begin learning how to do embroidery. My Mother was my teacher, and my first Muse.
Mother not only made lovely embroidered items, she is usually best remembered for her soothing and flowing alto voice. Mother was a singer. She sang solos, and duets, and in the choir in our church. But it didn’t stop there, where she had an audience. She sang every day in our home. Our house was filled with her songs. It would have been impossible to spend any amount of time at our house, without hearing my Mother singing.
In the final years of life, after Alzheimer’s took away her ability to communicate through words and conversations, she still was able to sing the old songs of the church that were in her soul. We would sing as we drove down a highway together. and then we would burst out in laughter as we forgot a line or a word. Then, we would just make it up, and laugh some more. She never lost her ability to sing until her final days on earth.
Back in my Grandmother’s house, so long ago, the blue embroidery threads were put through the eye of a silver needle. We began the exciting new project. One by one, Mother taught me the different ways of working the thread to create patterns on
the tea towel. She was patient and I was excited to be learning this new craft. I was mesmerized as the smooth thread went in and out of the creamy white linen cloth; my arm moved up and down in rhythm as the pattern began to take shape on the cloth; blue threads wrapped around the slick needle and was pushed through the crisp cloth. I was creating a design! I was hooked on fibers, threads, and cloth. I was becoming ONE with my work.
Mom created lovely “pictures” out of embroidery techniques. Her pictures hung in our home. there was a Crewel embroidery piece that became a clock in our living room. Then, one by one, Mom made pictures of red cardinals and bluebirds using Crewel techniques. The bird pictures joined her clock. There were lavender-scented pillow cases lovingly made by Mom and we slept on those freshly ironed pillows at night. Mom’s art was comfort under our heads, and soothing.
I have always had a love for fiber arts since that time. My idea of heaven is to spend the rest of my life in a yarn shop, surrounded by the most beautiful yarns imaginable.
I find that I simply love everything about yarn. It engages all my senses. TOUCH; SMELL; VISION. Most of all, it is my IMAGINATION that kicks in the moment I walk into a fabulous YARN SHOP. When I pick up the skeins of yarn, I begin to envision what that yarn will become once I take it home and begin to work with it.
Colorful yarn was a part of my Mother’s life, too. She crocheted afghans in the later years of her life. She left behind a legacy for me. It is the LOVE for fiber arts in my heart. Often, when I pick up my needles and begin knitting, I think of her and how much she loved handmade things. Her embroidered pictures, her afghans, were her treasures.
And, one of the greatest treasures my Mother gave to ME, is the love of things hand-made. There is something to healing and so important of the touch of a human hand that is left in a piece of fiber art. Sometimes, when my heart is still and listening to spirit, I believe I hear her singing as I touch my knitting needles and move them softly through the luxurious silky yarn.
Happy Mother’s Day, Esther Louella Kirker McKinney
he Village of Wurtemburg, PA.
When I grow up,
I want to be just like you.
May 8, 2011