It’s that scary part of a big project. The part where the ball of yarn has grown decidedly small and you still have some rows to go. The part where there is no more yarn of this kind if it does run out.

The Small Ball of Yarn

The Small Ball of Yarn

So I’ve been in denial, sewing things for presents. Most have now been wrapped up in brown paper (because I’m old school) and sent off across the globe. There’s still a few to go though. I also made a little pincushion for myself from some Spoonflower fabric.

Doctor Hoo will guard the pins

Doctor Hoo will guard the pins

I’ve also done something I’ve been meaning to do for a long while. I traced my matrilineal line! I’ve often had friends scorn the idea of taking a husband’s name – many have actually incorporated their mother’s maiden name into their own, too. I’m a feminist. I’m the kind who does bake cupcakes and knits and wears pink. You know that if you look at this blog. The thing that struck me about the insistence on not falling into line with patriarchy by taking a husband or father’s name… your mother’s name is simply her father’s name (unless, of course, she bucked the trend before you!). You’re really only one generation removed from that patriarchal observance. So I thought it’d be interesting to go as far back as I could through mother, grandmother, great grandmother… to find the earliest name I could find.

I got as far back as great great great great grandmother Mary Grainger. Grainger! Yes, I immediately whooped ‘I’m related to Hermione!’ I then laughed at myself. The spelling varies through the records, but she was of coal mining stock. That was a surprise and one I’m not a bit disappointed in. I wasn’t looking for kings and queens. My great great great grandmother is Penelopy. Apparently they didn’t spell well, but Mary gave her children excellent names. There’s a Seth!! I positively skipped. “Highly sexed young men living on farms are always called Seth or Reuben,” writes Stella Gibbons in Cold Comfort Farm (seriously, take a look at the 1995 adaptation, you’ll see what she means about Seths!). This Seth was in the mines at age 11, but he did live on to have a family of his own, and Penelopy’s daughters started marrying farmers and agricultural workers. In fact, I share a birthday with another great great great great grandmother, Alice, who married into a family that appears to have lived forever in the one little village, working the fields.

There was another little impulse at play, too, I guess. As a kid, I didn’t really seem to fit into the family. That is until one day when my grandmother brought out an old photo album and she opened it with a mysterious smile on her face and beckoned everyone over. She pointed at a young girl in 1920s fashions. “Who is this?” Everyone looked at me! I was the absolute image of my great grandmother. And it’s she who is descended from Mary Grainger.

Anyway, I shall sign off with a picture of the Scot and one of his new buddies. We often go to the park and hang out. (Steve’s human is carrying a ball – hence the rapt expressions!)

Ball! Ball! You have a ball!

Ball! Ball! You have a ball!


2 responses to “Connections

  1. There is nothing more entertaining than BALLS!

    Love the family history. I didn’t change my name. And yes, it is my father’s surname. But that’s ok, because it’s my surname too, and always will be.

    Good luck with the game of yarn chicken. I am sure you will be able to work in a contrast or complementary colour if you need to (not that you will, I know!)

    • Totally fair in the naming stakes. After all, Grainger was Mary’s husband’s name… but I was determined to see how far back I could go before getting stuck like that! And yarn chicken continues… yeep.

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