I believe in the stitch.
I have my grandmother’s sewing box. It’s Barbie-pink and clear-topped with three levels and prongs for each spool. It appears in perfect order despite its stray needles, elastic bands, buttons, seam-ripper, fabric pencil and stuffed tomato pincushion. I don’t stitch necessarily, but will if necessary. I’ve always made my own curtains; that’s necessary. Even when I got my sewing machine –the hand stitch always seemed less of a hassle –plus that’s what they did; my people, the ladies before me. My mother too, at the crochet stitch and my sister with a cross stitch—this sister, who is unaware that I have Nanny’s sewing box. I wanted it like I wanted my dad’s tool belt. So I stitch out of necessity. Maybe we all do.
Recently a friend summoned me to a garage sale to get my take on a crescent-shaped, wood-framed cot. His house would soon become a barracks for the upcoming weekend and the cot would cradle his last guest for $25.00. My friend dismissed the crudely cut, high-density foam mattress as likely dirty and infested. I disagreed. We needed it—dimensions and all. Wrap it with fabric, long-stitch the bottom and you’re in business. The job is mine now –and gladly. It won’t be craftsmanship but it will be cool, tight, functional and on-time.
The place to go was the only fabric store in the city. Suburban fabric chains are never my first stop. I’m pushed through the store by the per yard prices themselves—$47.99, $32.99, $24.99 and $14.99. The per yard floor meets me at $8.99. I need 5. It’s there; a heavily woven but airy, muted lime and orange plaid to be sheeted for the weekend and then stripped for the back garden—hammock style.
Near the register was a “discontinued” bin containing the large-sized needle I would need. “Discontinued?” I questioned. They were getting rid of their Notions section, the 60-something clerk told me.
“That’s a shame,” I said stupefied, “when I come here for a project, I like to know I could get a needle if I need one.” The clerk’s voice pulled generational rank while incongruently arrogating that the store is now “home décor,” forced to face a new audience because of rival heat and “Besides,” she said picking up the needle pack, “—a crewel? We don’t do crafts.”
Wow. I’ve been judged and condemned a “crafts-person” based on a needle. In my silent verdict the word “turncoat” came to mind before sublimating by grandmother to say, “I think it’s a shame.”
At home I let the sewing box offer up what it had. I needed a thick line to double. There it was— a wooden spool of muted lime thread. The branding was burned into the spool’s head as well as the price, 25 cents. The thread was knotted at its end. She pre-knotted her thread… Amazing. I used it and made a matching pillowcase to boot.
I believe in the stitch.
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