Saturday, September 05, 2009

Shaking the family tree.

(I apologize for the lack of pictures, and tons of text, but this post is still somewhat quilt related.)

I am beginning a post today, that I have thought about for a long time. Two years ago, two separate events occurred that made me stand back, and look at things in a new perspective. Since that time, I have always pondered the question. Is my creativity in fabric a talent? Or is it in me from my Heritage? Now don't doubt me for a moment when I say that I believe everyone has their own special God-given talent, but I still wonder if being artistic in fabric can be a part of our very complex DNA.

The first eye opening event that happened, was a family gathering. It was a one of those huge, extended, bringing-people-from-all-corners-of-the-earth, types of gatherings. And I didn't attend. But not to worry, my mother was there, and came home with a wonderful file of family info. Thanks to her cousin from Alberta, I now had one part of my family tree...that can be traced all the way back to 1480. My 9th Great Grandfather was Jakob Harnasveger, from Amsterdam, Netherlands. From there, his decedents are the famed, Gysbert (Geijsbert) Deveers. (They must me famous...otherwise why would you pass down that name for the next four generations?) But what caught my eye, was Gysbert Deveer III. He was born in 1600 in Amsterdam, and his listed occupation was 'fabric merchant'. WOW! My great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather sold fabric! This is where I could sit and ponder deep thoughts for hours. What did his fabric look like? Where was it made? What were the colors? What were the designs. What would he think of me, generations later, working in the same industry? So is my love of fabric a random coincidence, or is it a shared love? Whatever the answer, I suddenly felt some connection to my family tree.

Last night, I had a chance to sift through more of my family history, and I made another discovery. My family lived in Danzig Prussia for several hundred years. I had never heard of it, so I looked it up. What a fascinating story of Danzig! It was called the Free City, and I wish that I would have had a chance to visit it. It was destroyed by the Nazi's during WWII. But I did find our Prussian coat of arms. Finding our Coat of arms taught me two things about my family.
1) They must have been quilters. Look at that center crest, it is clearly a scrap quilt.
2) They had great abs...even for old guys.

So, what is your opinion? I know people who have a musical talent, and you can see that it runs in their family. So what about creating with textiles? Is that also something that can run through your blood? I will keep pondering that for a while.

And maybe sometime soon, I will share with you the other event that brought about this train of thought. And it has to do with our family treasure chest.



ka said...

It's funny - I totally believe that your "skills" are part honing, and part DNA. And yet if you look back at my family tree, you'd have to go farther back than I have been able to in order to find anyone with any interest in quilting. Or even crafting for that matter. My grandma was famous for her inability to do anything even sort of crafty. Heck, she couldn't even get her pictures into a photo album. My Mom could probably sew a straight seam and had a great "eye" for coordinating fabrics, but that's about it. To her credit, she thought it was something I might be interested in so she found me some sewing mentors when I was young, and viola... I can credit most of my other hobbies to my mom and grandmas, though, like cooking, baking, canning - all that domestic-bliss stuff. :)

But I sit here in my farmhouse, married to my farmer-hubby and think back to my days in high school where I swore UP and DOWN that I would live anywhere but on a farm, and I would be married to anyone but a farmer and think there's something to be said for DNA, and returning to what's "familiar." Not that I didn't try the big city (and even small city) life for a while... But nothing beat looking out my huge living room window and seeing a freshly harvested field and a tiny clump of trees that represents the closest thing I have to a neighbour...

Jean said...

You know, I like your thinking! My mom was a seamstress b/4 I was born... when she was preggers with my older brother she designed some nursing patterns for Vogue. Sure wish I had those now just to see what they looked like! And then her mom well, grandma was always sewing me clothes... and now come to think of it... great grandma (she died just b/4 my brother was born) hand made a cloth doll for him.... (just in case it was a girl!) which I have now... so yes... I think that we do have skills that we if shown enough example carry on... it makes me wonder what would have happened with my mom had she not had to go back to work to support my brother and I after her divorse?
DNA... interesting thought!

Agnes said...

Absolutely. DNA plays a part and, yes, it can skip generations. I learned to do counted cross stitch, using waste canvas, from my maternal grandmother. There wasn't a single love for the fiber arts in my mother. Without my grandmother in the picture I would wonder where my love came from. There was no quilting as far as I know in my past but then I know very little of my previous generations except for this grandmother. I learned to knit the English way, put it aside, and when I knit again I knit Continental style, just like my grandmother. I have spent years wondering whether I inherited the weakness in my thumb (that professionals confuse with Carpal Tunnel) from her. In her later years she would stitch with no feeling in her thumb and just sweep up her needles off the floor with a magnet when she was done. In the morning when her thumb was fresh she would thread dozens of needles so she could stitch again and end up the previous days work. Some might call it stubborn. I call it determination. I have the same synmptons and similarities.