Have Your Say

14th August 2020

Your Favourite Gadgets - Part 1

Thank you to everyone who wrote in after reading our article on gadgets from All Stitched Up! issue #242 – the response has been overwhelming! It seems that stitching gadgets are some of our most treasured items as well as some of the most unusual we own. This week we begin Part 1 of sharing some of your wonderful feedback.

Jo Britton

‘This picture is of a darning mushroom that was given to me by my grandmother once her hands became too arthritic to sew. I should think it is at least 80 years old. I can’t say I use it much, but I do treasure it as a remembrance of her.’

Lalah Tillinghast

‘Somewhere lost in my sewing room is a darning egg that I received from my mother and that she got from her mother. As I am 85 years old, I can’t even guess at its age. It is black and the ‘egg’ part is about the size of a duck egg.

It was meant to be used inside a sock or stocking to shape it for darning, which is what I use it for still (when I can find it).

Having spent my early years on a farm right after the Depression and during WW2, I learned not to throw away anything that could be mended. I still mend before giving up on any piece of clothing, from socks and underwear to my best outerwear.’

Thank you, Jo and Lalah for reminding us about this once essential tool that every stitcher would have in their kit. Back in the day darning mushrooms (or eggs) were used to extend the life of socks well beyond their first hole. Within our own team here at Inspirations we have at least one member who still darns using her mushroom. And just imagine the delight that could be elicited if we each took a darning mushroom and started to darn our socks, stockings and leggings in all kinds of fabulous colours!  

Marjorie Collins

‘During the Depression, my dad took one of mom’s large empty thread spools and hammered five or six small finishing nails around the centre opening. With wool and a crochet hook, my sister and I would make yards of tiny tubes that we would wind into rugs for our doll house (made from a cylindrical Quaker Oats box) or fashion them into animals.

We would also change the wool as we used up bits of mom’s leftover stash resulting in a rainbow of colours.

Many an hour was spent making hot-plate mats, winter caps and many other magical items that our young minds devised.

While I don’t believe I still have mine, seeing the photo of your Knitting Nancy brought back floods of fond memories of the 1930s and ’40s.’

Marjorie it sounds like you and your sister were quite the crochet artists back in the day! Lovely to hear how such a simple tool and needlework technique can lead to hours of constructive creativity. 

A Knitting Nancy from the 1970s

Jane Evans

‘In 1958 my Granny gave me this crochet hook made of bone when she taught me to crochet. We made the pincushion in needlepoint that summer, too. These are always nearby when I stitch. The granny square Afghan was my many-years-in-the-making project.’

Your crochet hook is a treasured heirloom Jane, we’re so pleased to see that not only did you keep it, but that it’s still in active use all these years later.

It really goes to show how the tools used to be made to last. It makes one wonder whether the plastic crochet hooks of today will still be usable in 60 years’ time.

Linda Fenton

‘I did not have a fancy Knitting Nancy. Mine was a wooden spool with four nails at the top. I remember making knitted tubes which I would sew into rugs for my doll house.

The oldest gadget that I have used is a wooden darning egg which I bought at an antique store 60 years ago. I used it to darn my husband’s socks for many years. It was the first object in my collection of old needlework tools.

I also have a 17th century Dutch silver filigree tape measure in the shape of a hat. The cockade is at the end of the tape.”

Collecting antique and historic sewing tools is a wonderful hobby Linda, probably made all the better by the fact that these items can still be used. Even if your collection is just made up of those items handed down through several generations, they can offer a precious link to the past.

Thanks again to those who have written in so far. We’ve really enjoyed reading about all of the memories and stories which these simple gadgets have brought up. 

Antique Treasures (source)

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