Keeping it in the family

Yesterday I was scrabbling in the cupboard for some fabric to use to line a bag I’ve crocheted. I found what I wanted (that’s what cupboards are for, right – keeping every little snippet of everything just in case) and I also found this old cigar box underneath a stack of jigsaw puzzles. It was my grandmother’s, and it seems that she too used to hang on to all her scraps.

My paternal grandmother was Helené Kreuz, and she was from Lucerne in Switzerland. She was a professional seamstress and, when she emigrated to South Africa in the mid 1930s to join my grandfather in Johannesburg, she started working at an exclusive dressmaking shop in town called Derber’s. Establishments like that no longer exist. She worked there until she was about 70, if my memory serves, and then she started designing clothes for my cousin to sell at Greenmarket Square in Cape Town. She also designed and made exquisite clothes for children, in collaboration with a man who was starting up a business exporting to — of all places — Switzerland.

She was an extremely creative, stylish, hardworking and resilient woman, and I miss her.  Here’s to grandmothers!

To be continued…

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