Button Joy Reflected

Amy Rose Davis has Button Joy! She’s been a crafting manic lately, and found a buttony treasure during a big spring clean, spurring my own recollections of Button Joy. Now, I’m a bit of a button hoarder. Nothing serious. I just have a big jar of buttons. And I can blame it all on one person.

I grew up learning to sew from my paternal grandmother, and maternal great grandmother. They are pretty much the reason why I can sew and crochet, and have done so since the time I could wield a needle or hook. My grandmother was an amazing seamstress, and I think it was her careful eye which led me to be able to draft patterns however I want. I’m not exceptional at it, but if I want to make myself a pair of pants or a new skirt, I don’t need to buy a pattern for it, I will just draw one up and modify it as I go.

My great grandmother was an avid crocheter, though. Not only that, but she kept a jar of buttons; the jar which I inherited upon her death. Some of these buttons are very old, gorgeous wooden things or cast metal. Others are newer, some match, some never will. I’ve used buttons from this jar in my sewing for years; anything from teddy’s clothes, to replacing a popped button from a shirt.

But the truly remarkable thing about my jar of buttons is the smell. This seems a common theme among those with Button Joy. Open it up and stick your nose is, and I swear, it smells exactly like my great grandmother’s house, all these years later. It’s surreal and evocative. It’s the scent of a yarn collection, and her endless cooking, and whatever little things made the house so distinctive. Her moisturiser and make-up. Her perfume.

My jar of buttons sits on my computer desk, tucked into the shelf in front of me. It’s just the convenient place to keep it; accessible, yet out of the way. But it’s also a lovely connection to a woman who meant so much and taught me many wonderful things. I like buttons. Treasures from the past.



11 thoughts on “Button Joy Reflected

  1. Yes! I love it. You’re absolutely right about the smell. I wonder what mine will smell like when my girls go through it in thirty or forty years… 🙂

    My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother all crochet. My mom taught me. I need to teach my girls, but so far, they’ve been reluctant to sit down and focus. Maybe eventually…

    My great-grandmother did some beautiful thread crochet, but the really amazing thing about it was that she was missing all four fingers on one hand. She lost them in a shooting accident when she was young. She just wrapped the thread around her thumb and the rest of her hand and used her other hand to do the work. When I crochet, I think of that and wonder how on earth she managed. I seem to need all ten digits to do even a simple hat!

    Thank you for mentioning my Button Joy! 🙂

    1. Wow, what an incredible way your great-grandmother crocheted! That’s truly amazing and dedicated. When I crochet, I wind the yarn once around my middle finger, and then loop over my forefinger to tension it. The other fingers then get put to use finding the right holes and generally holding the piece I’m crocheting! I really cannot imagine doing it without all my fingers. Thank you for sharing that story. 😀


  2. In response, I will defer to Willy Wonka:
    “Button, button, who’s got the button?”

    …and to Severus Snape:
    “Button, oh button, oh where hath thou fled?
    Did thee tarry too long amongst fabric & thread?
    Did thee roll off my bosom & cease to exist?
    How I wish I could follow thee into the mist.”

  3. My mother can barely sew on a button. Sadly, she passed along this lack of skill to her three daughters.

    I so envy those of you who can sew.

    I’m a near-goddess in the kitchen though. I hope that counts for something…

    1. Aww, like all good things, sewing takes practice! If you’ve never had the interest to stick at it, or someone to help you, I can understand why it would be difficult.

      Of course! Someone has to be busy in the kitchen! 😀


  4. Button joy… I love it! First let me say that I’m jealous of your sewing skills. I wish I could have learned how to sew from my mom (my only living grandma passed away when I was young). It’s one of the fallouts from growing up in an era when my mom was testing out the whole feminism and working outside the home thing. Even so, I do remember a button tin! I love how you described buttons having a smell to them, and how it reminds you of your grandma. My sense of smell is my strongest catalyst for instant-nostalgia, so I totally get what you’re saying. How beautiful that you feel connected to your grandmother in this way.

    1. Aww. I was definitely brought up in a charmed family, given so many wonderful gifts of knowledge and skills which others miss out on! It’s never too late to learn, though. 🙂

      I found I’m really particular with scents, especially for locations. Getting off a plane the first time I visited London, it was just after Christmas, cold and so alien to my sense of smell. There weren’t any spices to the plants, like Australia It smelled a lot like a big, clean freezer (kind of like an ice rink would smell without all the people). Sometimes I will come across an errant scent and tell my husband, “That smells like the hotel in New York”, or, “That smells like the caves in Ohio”.


      1. Wow, you and I are very similar in this way. I so get the whole ‘errant scent’ thing. I often drive my family crazy by identifying exactly what something smells like. Tee hee! I love your description of the ice rink—specifically *without* the people. LOL I swear, I can smell it right here in my house! 😛

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