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52 Stories #10—Family Hobbies

Sometimes we become interested in a hobby because we learned it at our parents’ knees. I have a couple of hobbies like that.

Mom’s Hobby—Embroidery

My mother liked to embroider in her spare time. I can recall often seeing her embroidery hoops out with a project underway. She kept a bin of embroidery floss in many colors for use in her newest creation.

Mom used to embellish our bed and kitchen linens with colorful designs sown on pre-stamped items like pillow cases and kitchen towels. She knew how to do the standard stitches like back stitch, chain stitch, cross-stitch, French knots, and satin stitch. She sewed with great precision, but she always tied knots in her threads. I later learned this practice is a no-no in embroidery world.

She taught me to embroider when I was in the fourth grade, and I liked it immediately. I, too, began decorating household items. Later, when my high school graduation time rolled around, I needed a white dress to wear beneath my white graduation gown. Mom made a dress, and I decorated both sleeves with an embroidered design. I still have that dress.

When I got older, I learned about a specialized form of embroidery from Norway called Hardanger. Family members say my mom’s Norwegian grandmother had been proficient at this, but Mom had never learned to do it. The family and cultural connection of this type of embroidery intrigued me, so I took a lesson and then taught myself more about it. Last year I earned a Cultural Skill pin in Hardanger Embroidery from the Sons of Norway.

After my mom died, I found a lot of embroidery supplies and embroidered items among her things. She had learned embroidery from her own Finnish mom, and some of the things I found had belonged to my grandmother. I kept it all. Now I have a large stash of embroidery floss and needles, lots of patterns, and several pieces that both my mom and grandmother completed.

Dad’s Hobby—Genealogy

My Dad always showed an interest in his family history. When I received a blank family tree chart as a teenager, he helped me fill it out to the best of his knowledge. Right away, I was hooked.

Dad put me in contact with other members of his family who pursued genealogy and knew about our family history. I learned that his family goes back to colonial times in America.

When I reached adulthood, I began to take genealogy classes. I completed the National Genealogical Society course in American Genealogy in 2004.

Over the years, I have worked hard to build my family tree. Dad took a continued interest in my findings and encouraged me to keep digging at our roots.

Today, I have notebooks and file cabinets full of family information. I maintain an online family tree. I have prepared numerous written character sketches for my ancestors several generations back. I love genealogy more now than I did when my dad first introduced me to the hobby.

These hobbies, one from my mom and one from my dad, have given me so much enjoyment over the years. I enjoy pursuing both, and both give me sense of connection to previous generations. They truly qualify as family hobbies.

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