Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Grandmother's Bag

Beaded bag on table

About seven years ago, I wanted to give my grandmother a birthday present that actually meant something. Not some tchotchke from Tiffany's, not some scented lotion she'd never use. I wanted to give her something that was truly from me.

So I found a pattern for a beaded knitted purse. It was way over my head -- it involved intarsia, which I'd never done before, and tiny beads that were pre-strung on particular sections of yarn... oh my. I wish I had pictures of what it looked like during the construction. It had all these little balls of yarn hanging off of it, some with beads... insanity.

Detail of beading

But oh, when it was finished, she loved it. She truly, truly loved it. And later that year, she carried it to my wedding. Even though it didn't match her dress at all -- and if you had known my grandmother, you would know what a sacrifice that was. She was radiant that night, she was beaming, she was regal. And she was carrying that funny little bag. I will never forget that.

Tag inside bag

We lost my grandmother two and a half years ago. My mother thought it fitting that the bag be returned to me. I cannot imagine ever using it -- in fact, it still has the menu from my wedding tucked inside. But it gives me great pleasure to look at it, to feel the beads with my fingers, and remember back to when it was on the needles, a time when I was planning my wedding, and my grandmother was healthy and strong.

Beaded bag

There's something so very special about these handmade things in our lives. Their history is so bound up with our own. I don't have my grandmother anymore, but I have her little bag. It isn't enough, but it helps.


  1. Thanks, Puck. It's probably the prettiest thing I've ever made, which is kind of a shame since it lives in my closet. Oh well.

  2. I love it! I can see why your grandmother loved it too ;)

  3. What a nice gift you made for her! It's nice that you have it again too (although, I'm sure you'd rather have her instead.)

  4. It is bittersweet to have it back, yes. By the way, the pattern is from Debbie Bliss, in the book "Cotton Knits for All Seasons," I believe, if anyone is interested.