Friday, August 24, 2012

How I became suzy hausfrau

I've been wanting to write this post for a while now, but just couldn't find the words...then it came to me the other morning, the perfect way to explain how I became suzy hausfrau. So, before I head off for a week's break I give you the story of me, my mum and suzy hausfrau.


I don't remember the exact date, but about this time five years ago I stood in my mother's craft room late one night.  I was the only one awake, my brothers and father were asleep - and my mum was sleeping soundly too. I know this because I had just rung the hospital to check on her. Sound asleep, and moved from intensive care to the ward for the second time in a week.

The first time she was moved because she was on the road to full recovery and it was a time of celebration. This last time, it was because there was no hope of recovery and well let's be frank, it's taking up a much needed bed in that little hospital in a country town. I say this very matter of factly, with no bitterness...because you see apart from being suzy hausfrau I am also still a (very part time) practising health professional...a pharmacist, I've seen this stuff before.

So I stood in this room and eyed off her stash, searching for a ball of yarn and crochet hook. Mission accomplished I headed back to my spot on the couch to make something, anything. Now it had been probably twenty years since I had picked up a hook, and it showed. So, back to the room I went and stumbled across the Golden Hands book and with its help, and the memory of my mum's hands I crocheted a flower....then a granny square, and another.

I didn't realise until months later that I was connecting with her, in a way that is still so profound to me. I can see her, imagine her still every time I pull that yarn up from its place in my project bag. I can see her hands, always so beautifully manicured, as I work the yarn. You see, although I had that very long break from craft...some things taught in childhood will stick with you.  The way you hold your hook, your yarn and how you sit down to sew on your machine.


The Christmas of that year I was at home with dad. A man still trying to adapt to life without his partner of nearly 60 years. You see, not long after the night when I searched for the yarn, my mother died. My father had moved to the bed in that very same craft room, still unable to sleep in the bed he shared with my mother. Now, five years later he is still sleeping 'out the back'.  So that Christmas I asked what he was going to do with all of her craft things. As he pondered I asked him, much to my (and his) surprise if I could have them.  So it is this way that the sewing machine, overlocker, hooks, needles, books, magazine cutouts and all of the unfinished and half-frogged projects made their way from Bundaberg to me here in Canberra.  It is such a treasure trove, notes from classes that my mother took in tatting, those very precious Golden Hands folders.

It was an interesting start to be sure, me getting back on this crafty train. My first rusty attempts at sewing, the knitting was a total stop-start, love-hate affair...but there was always the crochet. I knew how to do it, and I could close my eyes and see my mother doing it - it came easily.

I found crafty mates, I joined Brown Owls, I immersed myself in the world of blogs and I read, and read and read. The passion for making became so strong. I constantly think to myself that my mother would be in total shock, and I hope awe, of how far I've come. That I sell yarn, that I create every day.  That I sew, knit, crochet...make jam, bread. I know she would be proud, this yes I do know.

But I also wonder, and I say this with some trepidation, did this journey to creativity have to happen this way? That if my mother was still alive, would I still be suzy hausfrau? What would my life be like?
I'm grateful for this life, for the wonderful people I've met and for what I am learning every day, but I don't always like to dwell about the way it came about.  I miss her, sharing this journey with her, and asking for her help. I do like to think that I would still have come to this point even if my mother was still here and we could have shared and learned some more from each other.  Yes this, I think would have happened, no actually I know it.

Renae xoxo
(aka suzy)


  1. so beautiful. I didn't realise you had lost your mum. I think it's one of the hardest people to lose. I'm sure she'd be very proud of your little store

  2. What a beautiful story Renae. Thanks so much for sharing the origins of Suzy Hausfrau. Craft can be so therapeutic and your Mum would be so proud of your crafty accomplishments. Have a wonderful holiday.

  3. Such a lovely story. I'm getting all teary reading it. I'm sure your Mum would be very proud of the crafty frau you have become.

  4. My dear friend. You know how much I have always said that I love reading your writing (even in Operations Management), but this one was particularly special. Very well done, I love your story.

  5. Aw, suze, this is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing a little of yourself.

    It's wonderful the way our craft and the things we make with our hands link us back to special places, things and people.

    With love

  6. What a beautiful tribute to your mum. Enjoy your week off.

  7. Beautiful post, Renae. Your mum would be super proud of you. Xxx

  8. A lovely, thoughtful post Renae. My mum died when I was 17 and was sick for many years before so I didn't get to see her crafting. I did inherit her machine and it lead me to patchwork which is now a huge part of my life. If she was here I'm sure we'd stitch n bitch together but instead I just have to be grateful for the crafty genes she gave me.
    I'm sure both our Mum's would be proud - what mum isn't?

  9. Oh Renea, I teared up reading that. I'm sure your Mum would be proud!

  10. I like you craft because my mum did it is my connection with her too. We use to do classes together, she died when I was 23, I am now 44 but like you I quite often see glimpses of her hands with the knitting needles or at the sewing machine as if it was yesterday. I am sure she would be proud, I often wonder what sort of person I would be if she hadn't left so soon

  11. Renae, I am so glad you wrote this story down. It's just such a beautiful one, and written with so much love and heart. I think a lot of what you write is the same for a lot of us. I too learned from my mother and my Oma, and my fussiness in certain things is all her. When my seams don't match up I often call her and tell her and expect a berating which of course she doesn't give, but she was always so critical of store bought clothes when I was growing up, because they weren't as good as home made and I remember that always.

    I took up sewing when I inherited my Oma's sewing machine. I'd always resisted sewing on a machine when I was a kid, but I felt I needed to give Oma some respect. The saddest day in my crafting life was the day I realised I'd lost the machine in a house move.

  12. That is a beautiful post, thank you for sharing it with us. What a wonderful way to remember and honour your mum.

  13. very brave my friend, very brave.

    i think it would be impossible to measure how proud and pleased your mum is of/with you right now.

    my favourite memory of your mum is how she dished out mashed potato. i do it the same way for my kids now and it still leaves me with a smile.

    love you girl

    (the ethnic half of shenae!)
    HB for saturday you old bag

  14. What a beautiful story. I associate my knitting so much with my mum, who died four years ago. We used to knit on the couch together in her final months as she was recuperating from her treatments. I still have some of her half-finished things and I vow one day to get them done for her. Thanks so much for sharing xx

  15. I've just discovered your site and your blog, and I really relate to this post. Lately I've been communing with my dad the same way - thinking of him every time I make bread and work in the garden. We're lucky to have that link, I reckon, hard as it is some days. Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

  16. I'm late to this post Renae, but I'm lost for words. Such a beautiful, albeit sad story. Your connection with your Mum, through creativity, will never be lost. xx


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog...I especially love it when I get comments. Have a great day, suzy xoxo


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