Posted by: christinelaennec | October 25, 2010

Secret messages

Recently the creative Roobeedoo was in the process of sewing a blouse.  She wrote that she was embroidering a rose that would eventually be hidden underneath the cuff, and said that she knew that most people would think this was a crazy thing to do.  I thought it was a completely understandable thing to do.  I’ve been known to embroider beads inside the cuffs and hem of a sweater – to weight the curling edge, but also as a wee treat to myself:

Blue beads inside the cuff of my "ordination jacket"

Even nicer are secret messages that others leave for us.  At home, we sometimes leave notes for each other to find – nothing is better than finding a drawing by the Dafter on my pillow at bedtime.  Roobeedoo’s post reminded me of one secret message that was re-delivered after a gap of more than 20 years.

When my sister and I were little, my Granny made us Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls, one set for each of us.  Our dolls’ clothes were made out of scraps of clothes that Granny had sewn for us.  Here are my Raggedy Ann and Andy:

Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, made for me by my granny, Amy Papineau

They don’t look too bad for dolls in their 40s do they?  Raggedy Andy’s tartan trousers are made from leftovers from an Easter cape that Granny made for me; Raggedy Ann’s red cloak is made from the lining of that cape.  Her dress, and Raggedy Andy’s shirt, are both from material left over from dresses Granny made me.  The apron and pantaloons are marked with a discreet ‘C’, to distinguish them from my sister’s Raggedy Ann’s, which were marked with her initial.  No fighting over mixups!

When my sister sent them to me in Scotland years ago, I remembered all this, and I was happy to be reunited with them.  But it wasn’t until about 10 years later that their secret message was given to me once again.  I wanted to let the Dafter play with them, and thought I’d probably better launder their clothes.  So for the first time in decades, I undid the familiar ties and buttons that I loved to play with as a girl.  And this is what greeted me:

My Granny's message: "I love you"

I wept when I re-read Granny’s embroidered message.  I had a feeling almost of shock:  because the message was so direct, and also because it had once been completely familiar – I’d seen it many, many times when I’d played with the dolls as a girl, but had forgotten it was there.  (She embroidered it on the chests of all four dolls she made for us.)  Decades after her death, I knew that her message of love was as true as it was when she was there to confirm it in person.

Thank you, Granny.



  1. I just love that message…of course, I do. But how great to stick it onto something that will last.
    Nice post.

  2. I would have cried too. That’s a lovely story!

  3. I would have cried buckets, and am nearly in tears now. What a wonderful thing to still have from your childhood, made with love and care by someone who loved you so much. That’s a very precious memory to share, thank you.

    • It really was a spine-tingling moment. I don’t suppose she would ever have envisaged that scenario, but I’ll never forget it.

  4. […] many women of her time, was a very accomplished knitter (and seamstress).  I’ve posted about how the embroidered message on her handmade dolls made me cry when I rediscovered it many years later.  And I’ve written […]

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