A frequent joke I make is that I know exactly one crochet stitch and I make it go the distance. Over the years I’ve made legwarmers, baby hats, infinity scarfs, tours de cous, and fingerless gloves with that stitch. I tend to pull very hard on the yarn, and I probably have atrocious technique as evidenced by the pain in my hands, after even the shortest crochet sessions.
It’s been in the back of my mind that I’ve wanted to get more into textile crafting — I’m overdue learning a new crochet stitch — and trying to make more presentable-looking stuff. And, I want to get back into sewing.
Many years ago I borrowed my grandfather’s Pfaff sewing machine, and with the help of some friends started learning how to use it. Years later, my grandfather passed away, my abuela wanted good ol' Pfaff back. I went many years without a sewing machine and with the tendinitis in both my hands just prohibitive enough that sewing enormous (or even not-so-enormous) projects by hand was just not really a sustainable or desirable option.
But, after a few years of watching friends like Amandine of Fibraquarelle turn their extraordinary weaving practice into reality, to watching my own partner Leif get more and more adept at knitting (photo below, trust me, he is extraordinary), to watching my friends Oliver and Matt with their amazing cross-stitch and embroidery projects, there's been a refrain at the back of my mind that I really want to get back into a textile practice in a more serious way.
So, finally, my friend Goatbunny and I took to St Hubert on a beautiful February day last Thursday and went to visit Monsieur Machine à Coudre, and I got a deal on a new Singer machine. Goatbunny helped me get set up afterwards as we drank tea and played movies in the background. The Singer is not too different from the ancient Pfaff machine, and has some bits I really like, like the automatic threader! I'm so excited for all the sewing projects. As Pam of Blueberry Jams often says, recapturing or nurturing even a little bit of curiosity for all these home economics skills is actually really radical and subversive. And a longterm goal of mine is to make clothes good enough to wear out of sustainable materials, and stop relying on fast-fashion, one of the greatest environmental threats of our age.
So, meet my little sewing machine I have named Ducky:
As I was doing some organizing through my yarns and taking stock of what I have for sewing and what small bits and bobs I'll need to acquire in the coming years, I found this forgotten treasure wrapped in a dozen layers of papier-soie that my mother gave to me when I was fourteen. It's a bit of linen, I believe a table-runner, with the ends hand-embroidered* by my great-grandmother when she was twelve years old, which means it was made sometime around the late 1920s. It's roughly a century old.
*Perhaps? I am far from an expert, but Matt tells me it could be woven lace — if you have any knowledge of this, please chime in on Twitter or in the comments below.
She was my grandfather's mother, and it makes me smile so much. This is an extraordinary piece I had forgotten about, but I think I found it again at exactly the right time. I have so much to learn, and I'm so excited.