I realized while thinking about this story telling invitation that I couldn't remember ever not sewing. My earliest sewing memory is the awful trouble I got in when I lost a needle in my mother's bed. (That wasn't a good day for either of us.) Yet, when I was small mom didn't sew – as in make things from scratch. She did mend, patch and fix, so there were always needles and thread in our house, and I was resourceful. My first stash was comprised of worn-out socks, paper towels, the bottom two inches of the curtains in the spare bedroom and, more often than not, my own wardrobe. I think mom thought if she just let me at it long enough, I'd figure it out.
Then my great aunt Agnes came to stay with us one summer. Aunt Agnes knew her way around a needle and thread like I had never seen. AND, she was willing to spend her time showing me – a grubby, eternally questioning, impatient, insatiably curious and probably whiny child – how to make pretties with that needle and thread! That was the summer the love of sewing truly spread its roots and took hold of my heart. And that sweet lady is the reason my love of sewing continues to bloom strong today.
I can still hear her soft, Irish brogue telling me, "...a bit of stitch, Evy, just a bit, neat and tidy in a row..." while she encouraged me to learn backstitching – twelve per inch. (You try that!) I had the tendency to let my stitches get longer and longer and further and further apart, because I wanted to see what it was going to be now, not later. She taught me the value of neatness. From her I learned that anything worth doing is worth doing well. I remember her rule of "no more thread in your needle than will reach from your lap to your nose." That meant re-threading the needle a LOT.
She was teaching me that sewing was a friendly occupation. It was encouraged that my hands be busy when visiting, especially with any "significant" others. The reason for the short thread was: "Ach! Evy! You don't want to poke him in the eye, now, do you?” And then there was the single-strand-thread sewing lesson. Not doubled and knotted. Not even knotted. Just one strand of thread folded down past the eye a bit. Take two tiny gentle stitches, so you don't lose the end, and then one tight stitch to lock. Careful, careful pulling lest your needle part ways with your thread! Patience, my dears, that lesson was patience.
Life's best lessons are learned with a needle and thread in hand and someone who loves you by your side!
Who knew the act of sewing could truly teach so many life lessons! Thank you for sharing this story, Evy.