Janel T.

I remember lying on Grandma Troidl's velvet sofa and running my hand back and forth--smooth nap, rough nap, smooth nap, rough nap--seeing the red change from deep burgundy to soft rose and back again to burgundy. Grandma Troidl's downstairs flat was long and narrow, the front room barely lit with the flicker of a bulbous television screen. Light from the dining room slanted onto the sofa where I lay. A crocheted cover on the back of the sofa impressed its stitched patterns on my cheek as I leaned against it, stroking the velvet.

Grandma Dollard lived in the flat upstairs from Grandma Troidl. Tall windows towered above the single-story bungalows on either side, opening her parlor and living room to southern sun and softened street sounds. Her jade-colored velvet settees and wing chairs were covered with spans of crocheted handwork; crocheted doilies spilled over the sides of coffee tables, ran to the very edges of end tables and hid the surfaces of a lowboy and a delicate drop leaf desk. Thick oriental rugs muffled our rambunctious clomping and lent the rooms quiet dignity.

I found a long crocheted sofa cover in the stash of memorabilia my mother gave me after Grandma died. I run my fingers over it now--a combination of chains and knots and slip stitches that my grandmother's hands stitched into a memory and a homecoming for me. She would be pleased.

The warmth, safety and light of the upstairs parlor contrasts with what I now know of the downstairs living room and my synapses start firing--chain stitch, chained up, chain reaction, chain link, links to a past and a path to understanding the commonality of our stories and the strength of the links that bind us together.

So I "waste" time drawing one of the many circles that my grandmother "wasted" time crocheting and linking to other crocheted circles to create the piece that covered the velvet that drew me in to my grandmothers' worlds--dark and light, smooth and rough, linked by the labor of my grandmothers' hands.