Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | September 2, 2010

The Legacy

A couple of weeks ago my friends, Vonnie and Karen, and I were attending some rehearsals for the Sebastopol Ren faire.  While staying with my friend Nancy (a wonderful hostess of wandering womyn), she told us of this shop that had crafts that we would probably like.  She helped us find the address and the hours.  There was just enough time to get there before we were due at morning rehearsals.  Never doubt the motivation of dedicated craftsters when they are travelling.  We skipped breakfast the next day and went in search for the little shop.   We piled into the car.  We followed the directions.  “There’s the McDonald’s – turn left.  “It’s supposed to be there across the parking lot.  What’s that?”  “That’s it.”

We were women on a mission.  We started at the front door.  “What is that wooden thing?”  “Look at that wood!”  “It’s only $5.00!”  We nabbed it and claimed it without really caring who it went home with – we just knew it was ours.  Then next to the mystery wooden structure were 4 large black plastic bags.  “What are those?”  “There’s a sign.”  “IT’S RAW WOOL!”  We knew we had hit the Mother Lode.

The shop is called The Legacy.  It is a project of the Sebastopol Senior Center. It is wonderful.  Here is the link – and here is their blogsite, and

Buttons, thread, sewing machine accessories, lace, trim, hooks, yarn, embroidery frames, patterns, fabric, zippers, knitting needles, bobbins, quilting, books…you think of your stash and it’s probably there.  I scored a loom, lovely yarn, and some wool fabric.  (I was restrained that day…and on my best behavior.)  But what was inspirational was that this shop takes the stash of people who have outgrown or left behind their love of craft, offers the goodies to crafters, and takes the income to support senior activities and programs.

It started me thinking seriously about what will happen with my stash.  I have knitting supplies I’ve inherited from my dearly departed grandmother, adopted aunties, and hand-me-downs from community knitters.  I have spinning fiber and tools and wheels from spinners and weavers who could no longer practice their craft by injury or space or the end of their existence on this plane.  I have fabric from family, friends, strangers, craigslist, freecycle.  I’ve bought my own goodies, adding to the stash.

My daughter doesn’t knit (yet).  My daughter doesn’t spin (except occasionally on my Lendrum or her own wheel – it’s been a couple of years.) My nieces don’t either (yet).  But I’m hoping that before I have to leave behind my stash, my love of fibery goodness will catch in one of them, or perhaps some other family member.  After all, it’s taken me – ahem – a couple of decades to finally get into complicated sewing that would probably make my departed grandmother proud.  Grandmother was KNOWN in her communities for being an exceptional seamstress.  About 25 years ago, I was visiting relatives in Florida to celebrate my dying great-aunt’s life.  After she passed away, we went through her closets and found an exquisite black silk cheongsam that my grandmother had made for her.  The outer shell was like ebony spidersilk, light and sheer and fragile.  The inner layer was fine lightweight black silk.  The stitches were fine…incredibly fine and even.  I fondled that dress, feeling somehow connected with the woman whom I never got the chance to meet.  While attending a Chinese opera performance in San Francisco Chinatown about 10 years ago, I met a woman who told me that my grandmother was famous for her sewing and asked if I had taken up the trade.  I sadly said no.

But the love of fiber, and being creative with mundane materials, seems to run strongly in my blood.  Like my grandmother, my grandaunts, and my mother – all who have sewn or knit or crocheted – I have taken to playing with fiber and building a hoard.  Instead of gold and jewels that Smaug collected, the women in my family collected yarn, fabric, embroidery, and the tools to work those materials.

(My collections don’t end with fiber/textiles.  I have books…LOTS of books. There is a heavy focus on horticulture, herbs, cooking, and fiber arts.  And then there are the teapots and old china.  But that is another matter, entirely.  Uh huh, sure…if I keep telling myself that, I’ll believe it eventually.  In any case, let’s just stay focused on fiber, shall we?)

I love that I’ve become part of a movement of crafters who share their skills with others.  I started a knitting circle about 4 years ago that is still meeting in my neighborhood cafe.  I’ve volunteered with students – elementary to high school – teaching them to knit.  I teach Renaissance faire patrons about spinning.   Give me another decade and maybe I’ll be sharing about weaving that I hope to really get into in the next couple of years.

And I think that THAT is the true legacy that I want to leave behind.  I want to be remembered for sharing the things that I love doing, whether it is knitting and spinning or cooking or learning about some cool, unusual thing, or doing something neat.    We’ve all heard it before — it’s what you do with your life and how you treated the world (…all my relations…), not the things you leave behind, that is your legacy.

So here’s to Bess, the seamstress and crafter whose stash was donated to the Sebastopol Senior Center and became a vibrant little shop that not only supports a good cause, but spreads her love of skill and craft.  Bess, I raise my knitting needles and spindle to you!


(P.S. – The wooden thing was a homemade upright swift.  It went home with Vonnie, but we all get visitation rights.)



  1. Great blog!:)

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