Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Original Renaissance Girl

I came across these photos of my Great Grandmother, Amber May Fowler Rideout.  She was the original Renaissance Girl.  My childhood beds were covered in her bonneted-girl quilts and I now have my parents' wedding ring quilt in our bedroom.  I've talked to several relatives and each has a quilt from her somewhere.  How many quilts must she have hand-sewn?  I can't begin to imagine...
My Father reminded me that she also knit amazing thick zip-up sweaters, very stylish in the 50's, for many of her grandchildren, even with matching hats.  I remember seeing photos of my Father and his three brothers wearing slightly different but matching sweaters in the snow.  I have one of the sweaters now and it is so substantial, I can wear it in place of a coat!
Every birthday for the last 10 years of her life, I'd receive a different doll in the mail.  She embroidered a different outfit for each one:  One a pink and white 18th Century Lady, one a red and black Senorita, the next year a Princess in blue and white.  Each even had undergarments and perhaps a hat or matching tiny purse.   They must have taken forever to embroider with a tiny needle and the finest yarn she could find.  Her dolls were too small and delicate to live the fast-paced life that my Barbies lived, so they remained admired on upper shelves and I can only really appreciate them now. 
My grandmother raised many children on the rural plains of Alberta, Canada and I can imagine that ingenuity and creativity meant actual survival for her.  I'm guessing bargain shopping wasn't really an option and my efforts to survive in show business and a big city probably pale in comparison.   I remember meeting her once when I was about four, but I wish I could have really talked to her.
Thanks for your hand-made works of art, Great Grandma!

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