Women’s work-sign your work Anonymous needlepoint

I had meant to clean my dusty needlepoint doorstop and finally got around to pulling out the lint remover, which allowed the intricate needlework to be on display once more on our small doorstop. (I have a very uneven house–doorstops are essential or the door won’t stay open!) Once I started handling the doorstop to clean it, I wondered if there might be any initials on it. I knew the doorstop had come from my grandmother Marjorie’s (my namesake) house, and was brought to my parent’s house after my grandmother’s death, then moved to my house after my grandmother’s death. Once all dusted off, I looked closely, but found no initials.

I posted the simple picture of the needlework on social media, and almost immediately my cousins started chiming in. They corrected me, as only family is able to do so well (I mistakenly called it cross-stitch–I do not do fine needlework.) They offered other sample photos of family furniture with needlepoint seat covers. But then my step-sister asked for details of the doorstop itself. She has needlepoint projects she thought might be made into a great doorstop.

Side view, dovetailed corners very visible

Challenged to look more closely at the base of the doorstop, I realized it had been carefully done. Dovetail corners showed care in constrution. My guess (again, no initials) is that this was the work of my grandfather Glen, who spent every weekend in his workshop creating useful things out of wood.

Back of this simple doorstop, seven and a half inches in length

Responding to this step-sister’s request for measurements, I figured I would share them here–it was a lesson in geometry. Digging back into my tenth grade geometry lessons, I quickly realized I was handling a right triangle. Here are the measurements of the triangle:

Height–3 3/4 inches
Width that rests on the floor-3 3/4 inches

Slope of the triangle-5 inches

Length of the entire doorstop-7 1/2 inches

Side that rests on the floor–pieces of cusioning tape keep the wooden stop from scrathing the flooring it rests on

The doorstop itself is heavy. Without taking the piece apart (which I’m not going to do) I am guessing there is either a block of denser wood or something else inside behind the needlepoint to give the doorstop some heft. The side that rests on the floor has some cushioning tape to prevent the stop from scratching the floor. Behind the needlepoint itself is more wood to which the fabric was attached.

That’s the details. The rest is left to my imagination. How I wish the person (likely my grandmother or her mther) in my family had left anything to indicate who she was. The doorstop itself is a work of love. How I wish my grandfather left something to confirm that he made this household item from a simple piece of needlepoint.

I look at this doorstop every day, and am reminded of the many things we do for our families, most of which disappear almost as quickly as we create them. Meals and desserts are quickly consumed, enjoyed in the moment, then forgotten as we look to the next meal. Efforts at keeping our home clean are soon undone, either deliberately or simply as dust gathers. Clean clothes quickly end up back in the laundry, awaiting the next washing, drying and folding.These efforts are all so ephemeral, and yet necessary in maintaining a manageable home, a workable life.

While it is not reasonable or practical to initial all our work that is so quickly undone, I hope this post may inspire those who spend hours something with a needle and thread, or other such objects, to find a way to remind others that you spent, time, attention, imagination and love to create something of beauty, for yourself and those you love.

Marjorie

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. The newest book is Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.

She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.

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