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Thimbles, Rhythms & Natures of Things - Part 1




My mother promised her gold thimble to whichever of her three daughters learned to sew the best and eventually I was the one who won it. That was no small victory for a small baby sister!

My eldest sister was an excellent seamstress and designer. She was also a milliner and jewelry-maker. My middle sister made wonderful things for the house, upholstered furniture and made custom slipcovers. As for me, I just loved everything about sewing and couldn't get enough of it! I designed and made my first dress at age thirteen and at fourteen I made myself an exquisite wool tailored suit.

It was the major AHA of my life when I realizied I was really good at something of real value and that there need be no limit to improving in it! I hadn't thought of vying for the thimble amidst the euphoria I was enjoying every time I had the chance to sew,to read about sewing, and to practice and improve techniques - all of it! Well, loved all but the b-o-r-i-n-g apron I had to made in ninth grade Home Economics class! The sewing unit preceded the Foods and Cooking unit so that we could all make those aprons to use when cooking,

But, for me, this independent sewing and discovered was like uncovering an actual identity for myself, so vital a discovery, among the much older and accomplished people in my natal family! I hardly focused on, or even considered a likelihood of excelling them. My concern was whether I could just be really good at something! My reward was in feeling myself improving and having results to demonstrate it! Even though being awarded the thimble was yet to happen, I simply felt my personal victory with each improvement and a shining path to pursue for as long as I lived. Yet to be discovered were the other, more esoteric spiritual lessons for me in taking up that path.


But - loving to sew and being good at it did not mean I loved wearing a thimble! In fact, I could not bear to wear one. It made me feel 'all thumbs', much too distant from the fabric, more self-protective and less in touch with all of it. When I was sewing, my fingers needed to "talk to the fabric", to feel its resistance or its willingness - even its own desire - to DO what I wanted it to do, and to help me to allow it to express its nature! It was a relationship.

A clumsy, insensitive thimble just stood in our way!

As a result, especially when I sewed by hand, which I frequently did, I usually had a well-pricked middle finger on my left hand from the sharp "business" end of the needle and usually, also a puncture on the middle right-hand finger from pushing the blunt "eye" end through the fabric. That is the finger on which thimbles are to be worn, I believe. I especially recall hand-sewing on a rather heavy, coarse linen fabric! If anything would have tempted trying to use the thimble, that would have been it! I was NOT tempted!


. . . . . . . Ouch!


I didn't know which finger I most likely would have needed to protect with a thimble, though, if I had tried to use one! But, for me, it was a moot issue. These were merely wounds suffered in a labor of love which justified the mild anquish.

I learned the value of spit for timely removal of a little blood stain on the work!!

Please don't misunderstand. "Hand-sewing" in this context does not refer to embroidery and fancy stitchery. Here, it mean the seams, the tucks, the pleats, the hems, the buttonholes - all the vital essentials which comprise a wearable and beautiful garment.

One semester, away at school, I had no access to a sewing machine so I made every stitch of my spring wardrobe by hand! Yes, my fingertips were like a prickly map of my progress!

This project meant literally sewing my clothes by hand. If adornment were also needed, I did it, too. But the main essence and quality of my sewing, whether by hand or by machine, is in precision cutting and stitching; and if done by hand, that means tiny straight stitches like a machine would make, to be able to withstand the vigors of wear and also to look clean and effortless, rather than tight or labored.

At that time there was a special stigma associated with having to wear clothes "made with loving hands at home". I wanted my hand-mades to be more like "made in a Paris couture house"! I aimed for a high standard of excellence in this endeavor which combined workmanship, technique and creativity based on awareness of and respect for the nature of the fabric itself. It was a virtual love affair!

Happily, I was given a Singer Featherweight Portable later on, which became my constant companion and "partner-in-crime" for years to follow! It didn't totally obscure my love of hand-sewing, but I loved it even more.

I blush to recall that I even took that little machine on my honeymoon!

I still have it and prefer it to my fancy computerized Pfaff for some sewing tasks! It is made of sterner stuff and holds a straight seam more firmly. When I pieced a quilt for a project, this was crucial to achieving those perfect intersections between the small quilt pieces.


The saga has continued all the years. I made countless children's and grownup's clothes on it. I made my lovely wedding dress, as well as wedding ensembles for many others.

It has been a major part of my being and life. The years of "construction" expertise even led to landing an interesting job in the Engineering Department of a building company at one point. It was there that I met George!

At my Pfaff in my sewing room here in this house

At my Pfaff in my sewing room here in this house

. . . and sew on and so forth. . .


To Be Continued ~

Next ~ Finding the Rhythm ~

Strands of life

Interwoven loosely

Touching barely

Making contact

At right angles,

Making tangles

Here and there

Upon the square

Corners of the loom;

Making room,

The why of it escaping

Through the mesh,

Unnoticed by

The weaver.

______© Nellieanna H. Hay

To proceed to the next ~ click:

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Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 25, 2013:

Thank you for supplying me the jargon! You see, your assumption that I knew what curmudgeons like myself tend to say - was mistaken. :-)

OK. Let me practice: "Well, I never." Gosh. I've never said that in my life & no wonder! I can't say that much for it, but perhaps it's required for curmudgeonry. But what does it mean? I 'never' did what? I probably have done it, whatever it is; - - (except for having ever before said 'Well I never!') hahaha!

I've certainly related things that happened in my day (hard to avoid telling about what one knows), but not prefacing them with a hmmphy 'In my day. . .".

Somehow I had the impression that curmudgeons get to set their own standards. But - oh, I see now that my work is cut out for me. Yes, I can see that!!

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 25, 2013:

Gee, I guess you told me!

Oh, perhaps I should stop with the sass. You know how curmudgeons such as yourself tend to say things like "Well, I never!" and "In my day, . . ." and other such hmmphy comments. (Yes, I make up words occasionally.)

But, you know that even with my sass, you're most esteemed in my book and I tease with the utmost respect.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 25, 2013:

haha! But a real curmudgeon would never require permission! So - I don't accept it! ;-)

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 24, 2013:

Well, then, please accept my apologies. I didn't realize that being both grumpy and bitter was a sought after perk. ;) Feel free to commence with your desired curmudgeonly ways! Haha

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 24, 2013:

If I'm not curmudgeonly, maybe I'm doing it wrong. hahaha! ;-) What's the poing of being an octogenerian if one doesn't get all its rights & privileges?

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 24, 2013:

Yeah, well, that's life....make the best of it. Friday the glasses are supposed to be in and then maybe I can find a place that carries the contacts I need or order online. Could do without getting sick, too, though. Mommies don't get to sleep all day when kiddos have to go back and forth to school. Of course if he were feeling better it would be better me than the kids.

Anyway. . .don't call yourself curmudgeonly!! The connotations of that word don't even come close to describing you.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 24, 2013:


Shannon Henry from Texas on September 24, 2013:

Yesl. I must wear my torn contact to drive to pick the kids up. Poor Austin is too sick to walk, so I will talk later. The sooner I get back, the sooner I can take it out.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 24, 2013:

Wow. Ian. Mwah squared! That'll last me all the rest of the day and all night! Hugs, my dear.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 24, 2013:

Of course. Take all the slack you need. ;-) I was being facetious. You warned me that you were struggling to see. Being that my eyesight is always iffy, I can identify with that. But 'dark and scary, admonishing thing"? I'm a bit appalled! ;-)

Even though I've never associated Audrey with sewing, I do greatly associate her with a style - especially the simplicity she preferred personally - which I share. Her taste was impeccable but it leaned to the simple, rather than the 'showy' - except in some of her movie roles. One thing Harriet must have helped instill in me is appreciation for 'less is more' in most cases.

I can visualize that peacock your grandmother embroidered. I so admire that kind of handiwork. I'm looking right at a Chinese silk-embroidery framed work George brought back from China after WWII. He brought back 2 and gave one to his mother and kept this one. I'll snap a picture of it and include it on my FB page. It's gorgeous.

There are still many people who enjoy sewing, but perhaps fewer in the younger generation. It is a shame, but when cursive writing is almost already a lost skill, what is one to expect. People must be exposed to such things in order to gain an appreciation and desire for them. One doesn't see a lot of that exposure in progress nowadays. People seem more interested in -- oh well. Better not get started on that! haha.

Yes, thimbles do get in the way. I've been known to put one on just to push a really sluggish needle and thread through a really difficult area. :-)

I think we've exhausted this discussion, don't you? hehe - more interesting, greener fields lie beyond. . . (hopefully, at least)

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on September 24, 2013:

Nellieanna, Mwah squared.

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 24, 2013:

Oh my goodness, you dark and scary, admonishing thing! I do recall you notifying me that it is lengthy - but can you cut a blind girl some slack? Of course, I an asking this of one highly adaptable woman, so... ;)

No, I don't recall mention of Audrey Hepburn sewing. The mind is a wondrous mystery, though, in the way it classifies things. I suppose associated your desire for fashion nicities with her iconic style.


I had a peacock that was beautifully embroidered and framed by my grandma, but someone stole the box out was in out of my home and broke my heart, alrhough I guess it woukd have been lost in the fire, too, along with everything else she gave me.

Sewing seems like a lost art, but that is a shame.

ps- I ike your golden thimble, but I'd never use it either. I fund that they get in the way.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 24, 2013:

Shan, you're sweet to think me lovable, but I am lovable only if you can love, like and/or accept a sometimes independent, curmudgeonly ole gal! I can be balky and I don't foresee much hope of personal reform, not at this stage of life! ;-)

You, on the other hand, have great hope of reform. So take pages from my book cautiously.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 24, 2013:

Ian, my most treasured friend, thank you! How in heaven's name did you stumble into this archived hub of mine? It's an early one. I'm pleased you did, but the only reason Shan came here was that I suggested it to her in a chat when we were discussing things along these lines.

You do me more honor than I deserve and I love you for it. Coming from someone of your personal and literary stature, it's doubly wonderful. If I'm a national treasure - (or any kind of treasure) - in your opinion, I'm fully gratified and need nothing further! I am so pleased to see you here! Big hugs and mhwaaaaah!!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on September 24, 2013:

HAHA, Shan. If you check back, I believe I warned you it was in 4 parts when I shared the link, as well as that Part 1 was lengthy, (as are all 4 parts!). Pay attention! No words are wasted, though they may be overlooked - obviously. tee hee

No one should sew who doesn't want to, I think. Well, of course, at one time in our history, women had to sew or their families had no clothes and their homes had no basic accessories. Now it is a choice. It's one I always found intriguing and rewarding. Mother was the world's best seamstress but for one thing: she seemed to have no idea of the human body or how to fit things to it. I guess when she learned to sew around the turn of the century 20th, styles were so very different. I know she learned to hate ironing when she earned her keep in college ironing other girls' frilly clothes by flat-irons, heated on a wood stove! She never ironed anything again. I always said she invented 'wash and wear' - as well as 'one size fits al'~. But I liked my clothes to fit so I had to learn to sew, since 'ready-made' (is-bought at the store off the rack) was a rarity in our house. Almost the only ready-made things I ever had till much later in life were things my sister Harriet gave me. She also sewed well, and sometimes let me wear her own things. She was very critical of my ideas or additions to anything she gave me, and made no bones about it. Yet those ideas led to my own style which I honestly thing eclipsed hers, a fact about which she was not pleased. One of my many transgressions in her mind which ended in my escape from her domination and her death soon after. That such relatively trivial things as clothes can have such impact on one's life is amazing. Of course, they are mere tips of icebergs, probably.

I love to sew by hand, as well as with a machine. Mother was talented in all the sewing arts and crafts, including crochet, knitting, embroidery, quitting, drawn-work, even tatting! Her linens she had made when she got married were exquisite.

I, on the other hand, except for some unique embroidery and appliqué, and forays into quilting, cushions, curtains and bedspreads, prefer 'straight sewing' & always loved to make really straight, precise seams and corners, though in many arts and crafts I prefer freedom from set rules to do my own thing. I do make precise seams do my bidding, though, which pleases me most. I always discarded 'rules' which made no sense to me. Hems should not be painstaking, otherwise they look drawn and ugly. If a hem creates a lump, it's superfluous. Sewing uses my left-brain as much as my right-brain, both technology and art coming together.

It's one of the things I like about computers, too, allowing both to function together. As for knitting, crochet and such, I'm just not into them. I learned to knit and did a few things but wasn't drawn to it. I never really did crochet, except maybe what I did making hand-made buttonholes & loops was sort of like it. I tried making a shag throw rug once. What a disaster. Repetitive operations leading to a known results are boring and I never seem to know how much detail or how little is enough when I get into them: same with landscape painting. How many leaves or blades of grass are enough? And who cares? haha. When it's not a full-canvas painting, I feel free to determine what's enough and space matters to me as much as strokes. Mother always knew how many strokes it took to suggest the tree or other landscape features in a a full landscape painting, but I never really know. I loved fashion illustration because just a few glimpses of the pattern are enough to illustrate the entire fabric and a few lines and shadows suggest other details. It's the overall impression that matters, not the intricate details. Now you know some of my darkest secrets. haha.

Interesting that making my wardrobe by hand reminded you of my resemblance to Audrey Hepburn. I've never read anything about her and sewing, have you?

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 24, 2013:

Perhaps she is! One can't help but love her.

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on September 24, 2013:

Shanmarie, our Nellieanna is possibly the most talented person, in so many ways, that I have ever met.

Her interests and capabilities both artistic and technological are astounding. She is a National Treasure.

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 23, 2013:

Yikes, Nellieanna! When you shared the link, I didn't realize it was in four parts! Haha But now I am too curious not to continue with the sewing saga. . .What can I say? You're an interesting woman.

Believe it or not, I know how to sew, but not with a machine. I can fix a seem on a garment, make a pillow, cross stich, and back stitch, but that is about it.

Reading about you making your entire wardrobe just reminds me of your resemblance to Audrey Hepburn. Seems to fit somehow.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 21, 2011:

Erin - thank you! Yes, that's how I felt about my mother's incredible skill at fine needlework. Linens she made by hand for her 'hope chest' were simply gorgeous. But many of her sewing skills didn't "take" on me. I wasn't that interested in making 12-piece place setting doilies for big dinner parties. Hers were all linen circles with wide, fine hand-done crocheted lace around each one, all the sizes of all the china and crystal pieces to set a fine table. Every linen of every size for tops of furniture of every shape was custom-fitted, elegantly decorated & professional looking. Bed linens, too. The list went on and on. I just didn't want to do that enough! And she was pleased with my own style and work, always especially with handwork - but with any effort and result. That was a blessing. Too many mothers who sew well discourage their kids by imposing their own styles and standards, which may not fit another's taste, need or capability- and can never quite fit the expertise of a beginner! She never insisted I rip out my work because it didn't measure up; - it was my own standard which urged me to try for excellence. And one thing I valued was an un-tired, NOT overworked look which I noticed too many home-sewn things had! They looked old before they were ever finished! haha! So I strove to get it right and leave it alone. Besides - not wearing a thimble discourages too much redundant lingering! haha -

Thanks, Erin. I enjoyed your comments!

Erin LeFey from Maryland on July 21, 2011:

What a beautiful story! I often wished that my grandparents were alive when I was born to have passed down some skills from their generation to ours - but alas, my mother and sisters and I all tried our hand at sewing and it never quite caught on! I did have a great aunt who used to make the traditional Polish festival dance costumes - but by the time we all came along, they owned a grocery store and were busy with that. Thank you for sharing your story, I can imagine how wonderful it must have been to be able to make your own clothes, and how gratifying. Nellieanna, you are truly a woman of so many talents! And congratulations on winning the Golden Thimble! Hugs!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 20, 2011:

Hello, helló - How great to hear that we have this interest in common, and that we both started in early childhood! I was a menace as I searched out materials to sew for my dolls. Clothes hanging too long without being worn were sometimes victims to my scissors! Actually knitting isn't my thing, though Mother knitted, crocheted, embroidered - even tatted! I do some embroidery and know how to make the knitting stitches but just don't do it. I so love to sew on fabrics both by hand and by machine. But I'm very apt to choose to do it by hand for many things and sewing is both exciting and relaxing for me! You too?

Hello, hello, from London, UK on July 20, 2011:

Thank you, Nellianna, for this lovely article and peom. I too love sewing and knitting since my earliest childhood and like you, especially by hand.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 17, 2011:

Thank you! It is a lovely day, if one neglects to factor in the real temperature and heat index out there! :-)

jami l. pereira on July 17, 2011:

You are very welcome , hope you have a lovely day! :)

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 17, 2011:

Hello, Jami, fellow Texan. I'm delighted that you saw fit to visit my hub. I fully agree that "background info" doesn't define one, though it has value in tracing the journey which brought one to the only living moment, that in which one breathes and in which one heart is pumping blood to all vital parts, the moment in which one experiences and feels LIFE going on inside and out. I never before recently saw reason to re-create my past 'publicly' unless something specifically in it might be useful to a specific someone else.

Perhaps awareness of mortality brings one to consider leaving some footprints of one's journey and gives those some kind of immortality. In any case, from a lifetime's written and lived record, and a vantage of 8 decades in it, I felt a purpose in beginning to share it more generally than in a few personal letters and in many unseen personal journals and notebooks as in the past.

So it pleases me that YOU, who write as you do about your own perspective, are generous enough to visit here and share a bit from mine! I'll surely have to follow yours more closely! Thank you for lovely comments and welcome votes!

jami l. pereira on July 17, 2011:

Beautiful story in your writing , i voted up and beautiful and awesome , thanks for the read:)

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 17, 2011:

Hello, htodd and thank you for joining me in this moment. I hadn't previously met you, so before replying here, I peeked at your profile to see whom I'm addressing. I was so impressed by your credentials, and it made me even more pleased that you've visited my hub and ratet my work "great". I hope to read some of yours, as well!

htodd from United States on July 17, 2011:

Great post...Thanks

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 14, 2011:

Ken! I can truly envision your mum sewing and lavishing all you kids with her handiwork. How great to have those precious memories of her. And you learned too, and had that interesting exposure to it at that cleaners' shop where you worked. Interesting how parts of life weave together to make us who we are, sometimes just adding a bright thread or two woven into our basic fabric of being that person !

You mention mending. It made me stop and think . . how many people born in the last 40 or so years even know about mending, much less darning socks! People "then" didn't have the "throw away mentality" which now pervades. My mother could reweave a gaping hole in a garment which looked impossible to fix, but when she finished, one could hardly find where it was on the garment! I try to do it, but mine is never that invisible, or should I say -Mine is aways quite visible where it is!

My mother and sisters never had any but Singers too - as did I till I got the Pfaff. Singers are wonderful machines, and my Featherweight can't be beat for perfect "straight" sewing. I was given a box of attachments for it, too, which could 'do' a few other things - sort of prerunners of the many fancy stitching on all machines these days. I also was given a buttonhole attachment. It was good for "tooly" buttonholes but if I wanted a really elegant one, I made it by hand or made "bound" buttonholes - either by hand or with the regular stitching of the machine. The technique is fairly intricate and quite elegant. It's in the handling of parts cut from the fabric of the garment - or in a contrasting color or fabric for a design contrast effect. The smaller the bound buttonhole, the more challenge in assembling it.

Thank you so much for sharing this about you and your mum! The main message of this is in relating to the sewing process itself, to the materials and equipment, to envisioning a finished thing from a straight length of fabric. and to put oneself into creating it.

saddlerider1 on July 14, 2011:

What a beautiful hub, you most certainly are a diversely talented lady. You covered so much about the sewing trade, as well as fun hobby. I remember my mum sitting at her singer and watching her busy little fingers guide the fabric while her feet peddled the treddle and we all watched in amazement.

There wasn't a piece of clothing in our flat that didn't have the mark of mum's talent on them. She sewed both by hand and machine and of course the Singer was the machine she used mostly. We even had singer men coming to the flat from time to time to drop off new brochures showing her the latest machines.

I also remember her teaching all my five sisters how to sew, I even sat in for a lesson or two. I found the knowledge came in handy later in my life when I moved out and lived on my own. I had a trusty little sewing kit and would place that thimble on my index finger and away I would sew, mostly replacing buttons I often lost from my shirts and the odd seam to raise or lower my cuff.

I also worked after school in a cleaners as a delivery boy and I use to sit between deliveries and watch the two owners, husband and wife sewing up garments that were in for repair. They had two foot machines in their store and would be kept busy enough with repairs to clothing dropped off by their many customers.

Sewing and knitting was my mums' favorite past time and she mended and produced wonderful things with her singer sewing machine. Loved all the comments here, gave a brilliant history of sewing and it's many techniques. Bravo, excellent scribe as always.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 14, 2011:

YES! I felt like part of his destiny was to be right there this very day - and willing to help me as he did! Certainly many folks wouldn't have wanted "to get involved", or - as you say - would have chalked it up to just deserts for my carelessness. Of course, I'd miss it!

To a woman, her purse is her "home away from home" and in my case, mine is large and contains everything from cellphone to wallet and all my major ID, to the business cards for all my people, doctors, - etc. - and enough personal grooming articles to smooth my hair and brighten my lips! If I'm at a memorable family gathering, it holds my camera and if on a business appointment, it may also serves as my briefcase! haha - Not to mention the key to get into my house is in it. Luckily, I had taken my car keys out to open the car and load in the packages. I was still carrying it in my hand. Well, though - come to think of it, if I hadn't had the keys in my hand, I wouldn't have been able to drive off without my purse! hm.

I published the next part of this sequence just now, by the way.

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on July 14, 2011:

What a lovely guy. There are some really nice people in this world.

Some people would have had the attitude: "She shouldn't be so careless; she deserves to lose it" or a worse one "She looks as if she can afford it, she won't miss it".

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 14, 2011:

Ah, well - it's a circuitous route to "you know what". I guess I'm meandering and enjoying that freedom, without "having to produce" or meet any deadlines. I sort of like it. Thank you much. If you get time to read it again, hopefully you'll find a live link to Part 2 in the "To Be Continued" capsule. . . I am working on it, but realized it was too long and needed to be divided up. This hubs-sequence may expand into more than 3 parts as planned! (grin)

But I thought 4000 words far too many for one 'hub's' Part 2, don't you agree?

I'll enjoy hearing about your cooking. I don't know what I'll have for dinner. Something cool, I think!

I had a "to-do" list for the cooler hours this morning - ha! that's a joke! It was below the 90s only briefly before dawn and rapidly was rushing into them on the way to triple digits!

I got out about 9AM - to Sams after I had the backyard sprinklers going and had moved them a time or two. It's a big yard. Two sprinklers must be moved at least 3 times to cover it all. Figured to be back before 10 when it becomes unlawful to run them. Ha, again.

Returning from Sams with my loot, I realized I'd forgotten a couple of items, including much needed A/C filters, so decided to run into Fiesta for them. It's the nearest market to the house. Piled those several items into the car and raced home to get it all put away before it began to cook in the heat. But when I started to get out my house key -no key - because - NO PURSE!!!!!!!! ACK!

Rushed back to Fiesta, praying fervently (and my usual praying is more of an attitude; - this one was specific!). All around Fiesta one sees vagrants or odd-jobs hopefuls sitting around outside near the parking lot. I knew it was probably a long shot that my purse would still be in the shopping cart! Sure enough - it wasn't. Heart sinking, I almost ran inside - and the uiformed security guard just inside the door smiled when I blurted out my problem. Bless his heart. - He'd watched me as I went to my car with the groceries, - after seeing me nearly leave them on the checkout counter! Thank goodness the checker called me back!

So the security guard had watched me load the things in the car parked down one of the parking aisles, and then take the cart to the cart-cage a bit down the aisle - and drive off, in a hurry to get my perishables out of the heat! He must have eagle-sight. He saw that I'd left the purse in the cart but it was too late to stop me. In that heat, I definitely didn't linger. I almost never take my bag off my shoulder but it is heavy and I was careless this time.

After reassuring me that it was safe, he led me to the customer service desk and told them it was my bag he'd turned in. They went back in their "employee's only room" and came out with my bag & handed it over to me!!!!! wow.

Imagine that. . . ! I feel renewed.

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on July 14, 2011:

Need I say that this must be included in "you know what"?

I am cooking (for once) so have no time to comment, yet, but will read it again, and wallow in its lovely home spun feeling.

It's lovely.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 14, 2011:

Oh, yes, dear Ian. My first "machine" sewing was on that old treadle machine and my elder sisters made all their own college wardrobes on it during the summers at the ranch over the three months which we always spent out there -(with only RARE trips to town). There was no electricity out there until the early 1940s, so the treadle machine and wind-up Victrola were the only "appliances" - human-driven!

Harriet graduated from High School and started college in 1935, and Ruth in 1937. My legs still didn't reach the pedals, actually, if I could have had a turn at it, only when they'd finished. At 3 or 5, I wasn't in the accredited waiting line, at least not for a few more years!

But eventually I definitely used it and learned the mechanics of machine-stitching. I made some things on it in the process. It surely strengthened my leg muscles for the walking and swimming I so loved to do!

I had to make quilt blocks by hand to earn my "show money" 10 cents for Saturday morning "cowboy movies" when we were in Del Rio, though. And I was always making doll clothes if I could wrangle some scrap fabric for that. Mother was very possessive of scraps for making quilts, and she made a lot of those! I think her early life in what she called "the frozen north" pre-disposed her to be sure of having ample "covers".

Once I embarrassed her terribly by going to the Del Rio neighbors begging for scraps for doll clothes. Everyone knew that Mother sewed like a house-a-fire and I'm sure they took pity on a little girl who had to beg for sewing scraps in such a home! (if they'd given me nice-sized pieces of fabric, Mother claimed it to make something for ME to wear - before she put a halt to my begging!)

She had an electric Singer in town, by the way, but I had to have a little more sewing experience before I was allowed to use it! More chance of sewing through one's finger, I guess and with my eyesight, I was a bit over-protected, as well. Maybe that was a reason I was so eager to learn to sew! It was such a privilege! :-)

Yes - and I was happy to learn that the folks in the sewing rooms at the Bridal Shops in which I worked as an adult knew about the spit-cure for little blood spots - so very obvious on white lace, silk, or tulle! The quicker a remedy is applied, the better the blood comes out!

How lovely that you have your mother's thimble. So you have 'square" fingers! I'm smiling. Dad admired that configuration and he was very aware of the qualities which physical features are likely to proclaim.

Square meant solid, capable, practical and reliable to him. He sometimes examined mine for signs of my bents. My fingers are long and artistic but square-tipped! They extend from skinny-but-wide palmed hands with strong muscles, especially the thumbs. The skinniness is because the bones are small with the width from their wide-spacing. I think the muscles are due to a lifetime of piano and other dexterous efforts. If you shake my hand, it feels like almost nothing and you're amazed at its strength! So I guess they display my duality and multi facets!

Mother had the long tapered artist's fingers and hands, while Dad's were definitely square. In fact she called him her "square Dutchman" - or sometimes the "Flying Dutchman" for his energy, doggedness, determination, reliability and resourcefulness. And if you heard him laugh, your funny-bone was instantly infected! Hence, the name I gave my ranch. :-) - The Flying Dutchman.

I have other of my mother's silver thimbles, by the way. She used thimbles for hand-sewing. The gold one I "won" is literally a family heirloom she inherited from HER mother. I imagine there was the process of "winning" it for her, too, which she surely would have won easily. I'm sure that my Aunt Annie Laurie didn't sew and my Aunt Rosa died in her early 20s, leaving two orphan daughters, before she had a chance to qualify, probably. I'm pretty sure both of her daughters liked to sew, so perhaps Rosa did too. She was the more domestic - oriented of Mother's two sisters. Annie Laurie became a nurse and kept a pristine "minimalist" house during her several marriages, not places where I could imagine her doing much sewing or other home-y activities. I know the only of her husbands I knew - and her 5th one- did all the cooking for the 25 or 30 years they were married till he died. No, she was surely no competition for the gold thimble! :-)

Mother's older paternal half-sister, my Aunt Nellie, was a world-class seamstress and a long-term Home Economics teacher, but she wasn't in the running for Mother's maternal-line gold thimble. I got to meet her once when she was quite elderly when i was in college and she and her daughter came to Texas from Indiana to meet Mother's Texas brood. They made the sweep around the state meeting each of the four of us and, in the cases of my elder siblings, -their young growing families. It was exciting for me to meet this mystery relative for whom I was named. My "Anna" came from Dad's older paternal half-sister, with a nod toward Annie Laurie. Those second marriages resulted from the fathers having become widowers with family to take care of, by the way. It was not uncommon for them to start a second family. Usually the first one had resulted in MANY children needing a new mother.

Thank you so much, Ian!

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on July 14, 2011:

Nellie, this is an utterly lovely and charming hub. It is so lovely to read. A statement of love, and nothing else.

Please tell me you did some of your sewing at a Singer treadle machine; one of those wonderful old black and gold machine with the cast iron sides. I can see my mother sitting at one and her feet pumping away and that wonderful purring sound a well oiled singer makes.

As I was reading about the little pricks and "darts of love" from a girl/lady who doesn't or didn't use a thimble, I was thinking, "But what about the tine spots of blood?" and then I laughed quietly to myself when I read that a little bit of spit heals all.

I still have my mother's silver thimble... so tiny on my square fingers

Once again. A lovely, lovely hub. Thank you.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 13, 2011:

Ah, Loveslove! Thank you for clarifying that! I jumped to the conclusion it was her own daughters. They are YOUR granddaughters, but not her daughters. duh - :-) I must check out the hub(s) you've published about the dancing girls in your life! Sounds so sweet and inspiring! I'd surely like to read about - and maybe see pictures of - your flowers, too!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 13, 2011:

Sonia - my, oh, my! First - I'm so pleased that you plan to find your mother one of those great magnifying lamps (or lit magnifier - they are both!).

By the way - they are surely applicable for any close, meticulous work needing both hands free, so consider that, as well. You might find it listed as a draftsman's or calligrapher's aid. as well.

Then, your compliments are incredibly kind! "Dazzling" is such a wonderful concept - one to which I honestly aspire! The Dazzle! Why not? Even one candle in a dark cave is dazzling!

I confess that among my motives for getting up each new day and taking care of myself so as to LIVE - is a burning desire to inspire & help raise the sites of anyone in the older years who is in doubt about it for themselves, so that perhaps they might better visualize themselves sweeping into each of the most thrilling days & years of their own lives, rather than possibly regretting a dwindling down of their own dazzle so that it does eventually shrink and fizzle. It needn't.

At the same time, being a real-live person with my share of physical & other disadvantages of my own, both ongoing and/or in preceding years, may help it seem a more real & possible thing. Some days everyone gets up and needs a 'jump-start'!

But EVERYONE has personal, unique dazzle, accomplishments and native talents and who better than they to know what they are and which they want to cultivate? No advisor can possibly know that better than the individual having them. You and I might not even think of encouraging someone with undeveloped passion for weaving or working with endangered animals - whatever. But the one having those tucked away dying to happen - does and can recognize the hidden unique combination of what's "in there".

There is no monopoly on that, except that EACH person's dazzle is his or her own monopoly! The important requirement for living it is to really feel & embrace it as one's own special "thing" & run with it, tempered only with one's own deepest convictions & motives about the how and why to express it.

Anyone, in any situation or generation can do that & will be the only one who possibly could, because it's each person's uniqueness fueling its own dazzle.

I'm so much more pleased with having my "zeal, hope and optimism" intact and working, than with any accomplishment I may have. Accomplishments - or at least one's continuing abilities to accomplish them - will eventually dwindle, probably, but there is no expiration date on one's spirit! -It never needs to!

Love and thanks, sweet Sonia!

Loveslove from England on July 13, 2011:

The Hub is about my daughters dancing Nellieanna...its called 'Will She Ever be a ballerina ?'

Loveslove from England on July 13, 2011:

Hi again Nellieanna..My Daughter teaches her Neices (they are her 2 brothers children )not her children...she hasn't any yet !!

I have done a HUB about my grandaughters dancing.

I am considering a HUB about my flower arranging ...X

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 13, 2011:

Loveslove -Great to see you! Ah - we share a love of flower arranging, too! What are some of your favorite flowers and mixtures? It is such a fulfilling hobby, isn't it? You should consider a hub about it. I have done a couple about mine.

See, for at least 5 or 6 years I kept fresh flowers in the house constantly. Arranging them was so satisfying and George loved seeing them. Not too expensive from the floral dept. at the grocery store.

But among my New Year's resolutions this year was to develop a greener thumb for house plants. I'm sure you know how flower arrangements take time from their initial arrangement through their maintenance care till the last bloom has withered.

So I've focused on green - been fun too. Also healthy! They breathe out oxygen and take in carbon dioxide, the opposite of what we do, so it's a good synergy.

So my several green "kids"are looking lovely and giving pleasure. They have names and I talk to them, something I didn't do with cut flowers. A couple of these produce flowers too. They take some time, but not quite as much, the way I constantly salvaged the flowers as the bouquets dwindled, making smaller bouquets. I can always resume that passion. hehe.

I relate to the making of costumes, too. How good that you were able to learn how for your daughter's dance costumes, now for granddaughters, too! Among my fondest sewing memories are the things I made for my daughter and her cousins - and some for my grands, and step daughters and grands, too. I love it from regular clothes to costumes for all kinds of occasions. I used to love making Halloween costumes!

Now I have a bunch of great-grandchildren ranging from 16 to one about to make her birth debut in August. They're all so far away, though. I haven't sewn for them. Haven't even seen them all! haha. But it's not over till it's over, as they say! :-)

I know you must be filled with pride and satisfaction when you see your daughter successfully pursuing her own passion and teaching her own 3 daughters! That is just amazing. Again, maybe it's another subject for a hub?

One of my grands is into dancing, but so far, it's the ballroom type she adores. I sent her "The Red Shoes" for Christmas, though. - So who knows? She's 10 and I was blown away with it when I first saw it at about 14.

I appreciate your visit and kind comments so much, Loveslove!

sonia05 from india on July 13, 2011:

Dear Nellieanna,Thank you for your lovely suggestion for my mother. I am going to buy this apparatus with a magnifying glass so that she too can do sewing if she wants to.I am going to check out amazon.com.

I also want to tell you that I am in awe of your dazzling personality. I did not know that you are 80 years old but I guessed you to be around sixty. Your efforts and zeal to conquer your weaknesses like your monocular eyesight is really commendable. Your countless accomplishments are worthy of not just praise but for us to learn from you. I believe that I am learning so many things from you. You are like a mentor with your rich experience,skills,talents,versatality etc. The best thing about you is your ever increasing accomplishments marked with great zeal,hope and optimism. You have seen various shades of life and you are a beautiful person with a strong personality! Your zest for life is infectious!



Loveslove from England on July 13, 2011:

Hi Nell...A super Hub as usual,You never fail to produce a readable item !!

Love this Hub I can relate to it in a way..I have always enjoyed sewing but not been too adept at it,however I was rather plunged into it at the deep end when my daughter began her dancing at age 3..she had to have costumes for the shows she was in I and couldn't afford to have them made proffesionally so it was down to me ...I managed and now 25 years down the line I am doing the same for 3 grandaughters whom my daughter teaches dancing to...Yes she is now a Ballet teacher !!

My forte in life has been flower arranging and thats my favourite hobby !

Thanks for another great Hub XX

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 13, 2011:

Dallas, of course! And I used the verbs "do" or "does" to indicate a relationship between a person and all abiding in and emanating from him or her which expresses him or her from the inside out; not so much to focus on the 'deed' or the doing, as to fine-tune awareness in and of the whole essence.

Thank you for that added input! No question but that aspiring to and appreciating artist ability is vital to that as well as values in themselves..

I'm so sleepy I keep dozing off writing and my fingers don't seem to want to peck out one more stroke. Don't be shocked if you see an outline of my face on the screen, where I slumped. ;-> So be patient with my incoherence, please. Hugs!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 12, 2011:

Martie - yes, I see your point. Marais' poem points out the duality of all things connected to life. They're a bit like the topside and underside of a coin. When one side is 'up' & holding sway, the other is right there underneath prepared to make the flip. I'll bet we wouldn't know when things are 'good' and pleasing if we hadn't met the flip-side with things that were bad and didn't please. Each has its value, especially when they exist in harmony, synergy, - the constant dynamic state of change which is LIFE. Yet one can have and be a centeredness which navigates either phase well & without unraveling.

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on July 12, 2011:

Perhaps one should aspire ot appreciate the artist abilities while "doing!"

Martie Coetser from South Africa on July 12, 2011:

Nellianna, while reading your reply on my comment a poem of one of my favourite Afrikaans poets, Eugene Marais, came to mind - Directly translated in English –

A drop of bile is in the sweetest wine;

A tear on every happy string;

In every laugh a sigh of pain

In every rose a lustreless leaf.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 12, 2011:

HAHA, Dallas. Why am I not surprised? Except for tailors most, of the sewing was traditionally done by women, unless a guy had an overwhelming interest in it, which was not encouraged and perhaps still is not, although many a mom made sure her sons had enough know-how to sew on their own buttons and mend a rip in their best shirt. That would hardly fill a thimble, though - as you intimate! ;->

Thanks so much for coming by and reading my hub. This project is actually not about the practical applications I'm using to show it because they help illustrate what it IS about - relating to one's environment and its applications in more than a mechanical and "tooly" way. - The same principle applies to woodworking, gardening, breaking horses, training dogs, repairing cars, designing and making skyscrapers happen - or whatever one DOES. Feeling its rhythm and its nature separates the artist in all human activities from the mere "doer" of them who crowds the highways, feeling vaguely desperate and unfulfilled.

I suspect you relate somewhat to that because you do find your connections with the amazing things you do! Hugs.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 12, 2011:

Miss_jkim - ah. Thank you! Yes, I understand. I do & did my share of draperies, cafe curtains, decorative pillows, bed-skirts and other home accessories too. I sort of like doing it.

My sewing when I was an Air Force wife for the first 3 years of our marriage was limited mostly to making maternity clothes for myself! I was determined to not look frumpy, so I got fun out of designing, making & wearing them.

How fortunate to have a Pfaff purchased in Germany! I wanted one of my own for so many years! Madame Boger, my design teacher, considered it the royalty of all sewing machines and equipped her design classes in the Art Department of the University with banks of them. We worked amidst those machines, huge cutting tables, professional muslin-surfaced mannequins in the main sizes for the pinning, draping and fitting our design projects and making their patterns, first from muslin right on the mannequin, then translated on a table to paper pulled from the big rolls of heavy brown paper suspended from the ceiling around the room. I still have a boxful of the patterns I made then, though the actual dresses I did are all gone, except the wedding dress I designed as a project & eventually wore for my own wedding!

A closetful of 'Vogue' and 'Harper's Bazaar' magazines going back to early in the 19th century & up to the latest issues were available for our research & to inspire ideas. Sewing was not a requirement of the first-year design course & some of the students really had no sewing experience so they tended to come up with unfeasible ideas. The research helped keep their imaginations in touch with reality, I think! If they made it through that year, they had ample sewing experience, though!

Madame Boger herself was a major resource. How I recall her accent! She was a professional designer back in Austria before marriage and motherhood dominated her attention. Women's full acceptance as both career women and homemakers had yet a ways to go. She always advised me that if I were serious about designing (which she believed me to be) - I must avoid marriage! So much for the wise voice of experience. ;-> hehe.

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on July 12, 2011:

What I know about sewing you can put into a thimble and your thumb too! I enjoyed article. Flag up and awesome!

miss_jkim on July 12, 2011:

This brings back memories of my grandmother and mother-in-law, both of whom were quite accomplished seamstresses. My mother-in-law is really the one I credit for teaching me to sew; however, I will not say I ever became good at it. Being an Army wife for so many years, I did use my simple abilities to make curtains for each set of quarters we lived in.

Nellie, I also have a Pfaff sewing machine that was purchased many years ago in Germany, and I still use it today!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 12, 2011:

Well, Sonia - thank you for a beautiful compliment. It's true that I'm a multi-faceted person, I suppose. Most of them were 'in here' like gems-in-the-rough' and a few got polished up a bit along the way. I was exposed to so many talented folks in my natal family, so it seemed natural to 'do things'. I'm acutely aware of some that ended up better 'done' than others attempted in my life, where I remain a wannabe in those.

I so wanted to water ski and from my college days I kept trying every chance I got. Consequently, I drank a lot of lake water in my time! When I finally got 'up' on those things in my mid-40s and managed to ride them for a respectable distance, I knew it was time to hang up my skis and chalk it up to dogged determination and a moment of sheer luck! Trying was the real fun!

Accomplishing something, even one time out of countless attempts, is a great joy and provides one a lovely memory and boost to the morale! I'm just not built for water skiing. I know that - but I managed to overcome that once upon a time!

The next segment, Part 2, will introduce a passion of mine which was always 'in here' and never stops, but it doesn't 'come off' as being a 'done deal' and, yet, that is OK. Few things are ever totally 'done' anyway, so long as one is alive and enthusiastic to keep improving and finds it personally worth the effort.

I was born with poor eyesight, Sonia. I'm monocular - no depth perception. I don't see in 3D. There are actually some advantages to that! It's sort of like snapping a 'still' photo & simplifies the translation of a scene to a canvas with paints & brushes! Sub-consciously before I even remember, I developed my tricks for compensating! As I was learning to, though, I had a lot of bone-breaking accident. Fragile bones were also part of my constitution! So I learned to judge depth in other ways & I just automatically size up where my feet are taking me & keep 'booby traps' at a minimum in my surroundings. It's barely a conscious thing.

You may or may not know I'm nearly 80, by the way, and I have a sewing box right by me as I'm writing. Have been fixing a couple of tank tops to fit & work better for me. (They're Calvin Klein but bought at Sam's for very little!) The clear plastic 4"x 6" x 3" sewing box includes a couple pair of very good scissors - one for small one for larger snipping - 3 or 4 threads in basic colors, plus the 2 colors of the tank tops, a pin cushion with pins, a few buttons, a couple of needles, needle threader & small measuring device. One is done & no urgency about the other, so long as I get it done before fall! :-)

When working on my quilt (1989) I acquired a light apparatus with a built-in magnifying glass. It could be clipped on the side of the sewing machine table or the chair I was in when hand-sewing those parts and required no-hands away from the sewing. I got it at a sewing novelty shop but they're surely at Amazon.com now. You might consider getting one for your mother. Of course up in my sewing/guest room there is every kind of equipment, plus drawers, boxes and bolts full of cloth & sewing paraphernalia! I love good equipment for the projects I love doing. But I've always loved to just casually do a few casual small sewing jobs while watching TV.

My bedroom has an easel & all kinds of art necessities set up all the time, though I've not been painting much lately. It's there when I'm inspired to! I think it's important to have the things easily available for doing one's passions. (Well - sometimes it's not possible. My beloved is no longer living. . . . But he, too was always surrounded with the tools & things for doing his own projects! Even though we were always together, each of us had his/her own space and passionate interests.)

I remember when my mother's eyesight was dimming. When they visited, she'd have the kids & grandkids thread up a stash of needles in various colors she'd be likely to need for any sewing job! It was so cute - and so like her! We should always reflect and radiate who and what we are, in our space and in our being, - don't you think?

sonia05 from india on July 12, 2011:

Dear Nellieanna, you seem to be the Jack of all trades and Master of all!! You are one talented and beautiful person and it shows in all your creative works, be it hubbibg or sewing! This is such an interesting hub.

It reminds me of my childhood days when I use to see my mother sewing,painting and knitting for us. Now she is not able to sew or knit or paint because of her weak eyesight. I love to do embroidery work although its not as good as she did but still these skills need to learnt and passed on to next generations!

waiting for the rest of the wonderful story......



Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 12, 2011:

;-> FP - as they say, 'different strokes for different folks' - ! Makes the world a more interesting place!! Hugs!

Feline Prophet on July 11, 2011:

Nellieanna, my mother was also a talented seamstress back when she was younger, and a knitting whiz...till a few years ago she was still embroidering saris! She's also a great cook...sigh...I must be the changeling in the family! :D

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 11, 2011:

Merlin! I love your notice of that line! Don't we all harbor memories of the apparent challenges and obstacles of our youths? Your Dad was probably speaking in good faith when he made those comments. And I so key-in to your quote:"For most of his life he never really knew what I did" except I might be semi-aware that my family knew what I DID but they never had a clue as to why or of who/what I AM. They never really KNEW me. They loved me. But they never KNEW me. It may have been my failure to make myself knowable. I dunno. But being ME means I prefer to be PERCEIVED rather than to have to market myself in order to be known. I don't prefer obscurity but I prefer self-promotion even less.

I'm smiling to imagine your sense of smug satisfaction at proving yourself and your worth to the man who never knew what you DID. I don't see it as satisfaction in outdoing him so much as in relief to at last be known a bit. I bet you empathize with him too. But he was KNOWN before you were born. Your day needed to be known and acknowledged. I'll bet in his heart of hearts he was proud of his son. As you say - who was the more proud - impossible to say!

My talents are ok. Nothing spectacular but they have been my sustenance in many ways. Some have "come" easily. Some have required a lot of dedication and practice. If I distinguish between them, I find I admire those which I sweated over the most. :-) Go figure. I suspect it is those which just come to me which are the most valuable generally. I love to revel in remembering the effort and determination. Those without those memories remind me of what inspired them, but not so much of what transformed them to paper nearly effortlessly

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 11, 2011:

Dusty, dear Dusty. What a wonderful connection! Who knew there are those kinships lurking? The Singer Featherweight! wow. My eldest sister had one, too. She made enough hats to buy it with the income during leaner days. At that time, she lived in New Mexico and designed and made the most amazing costume jewelry, using macaroni and dye secrets she learned from the local Indians! These necklaces were fastened with lovely strips of real chamois to tie them in place. She sold both her hats and the jewelry to Neiman Marcus! If our parents taught us no more, they instilled much innovation, resourcefulness & raw determination in all of us.

I, too, have feelings for the lost arts of personal involvement in MAKING things. My Dad used to say (about economic - political issues) - "Someone has to PRODUCE it!" An old-fashioned notion in an age of "services" and government aid, of course. But in the mix, much of the basics are getting lost. Someone, indeed, has to produce it if it is to be consumed or used to build an economy, - personal or national. "Services" leave no residue, build nothing but support & encourage leisure, rather than industriousness or economy. There is really no mystery about our current situations as a nation. A nation cannot thrive on a "service-oriented" basis. We are in that mode - plus other unsupportable stuff. An economic wake-up may be the only hope.

I'm "with it" in 2011 but I am basically an old-fashioned girl. I know in my heart that there are some basics being ignored, overlooked or discounted which are the foundation and the structure on which all the technology and sophistication rests and relies. Unfortunately it is not being well-tended and I am only reservedly optimistic unless it changes.

Your wardrobe reminds me of George's. His favorite shirts were the most thread-bare. Stuff he had when we first met! Because my mother taught me to shop for value at modest cost I could buy him designer shirts and pants at Sam's for prices which wouldn't buy the fabric these days. But he still preferred his "old friends" and only wore the designer stuff if I laid it out for him to wear to special occasions - like his son's house for Christmas or birthdays! He was not wild about hats but did love a rangly old western one he would put on to meet an old or new-timer at the ranch. haha

I love your account of your blue and white striped engineer's hat - (railroad engineer for those unacquainted with that term in that context!). It sounds a little like my favorite Univ. of Texas sun visor displaying their last Championship! (2005!) which I can cram into my absurdly oversized go-everywhere handbag! As for "old" wear - I have every accessory I ever had, back to and before my college days - and those may pre-date your birth! My "new" clothes are those acquired during this millennia. haha

Thank you and hugs for a wonderful stroll through your own experience!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 11, 2011:

Martie - so! - We share even more things in common! Bernina is an excellent machine! But in my design classes, Pfaff was the chosen make. When George wanted to buy me a really prized machine, it was Pfaff that I most wanted. He was designing and making decorative wooden boxes at the time and visualized assembling fabric linings for some of them. The "deal" was that he could use the Pfaff, too, if he wanted to - and that I would guide him in its use!

Other imperatives involving my ranch and its legal tenuousness took precedence, though and he didn't get back to his boxes. My unfinished quilt was also a victim. For all of 2 years, we were both immersed in those legal issues and then, for the next 14 or so years, in the care and keeping of the ranch! We both found a lot of satisfaction in designing and building our own cabin there!

But I assure you, it is such small details which rather haunt me. He did everything to assist in what I needed, even to some neglect of his own interests. I can honestly say, though, that his interests of the most value to him persisted and flourished till his dying moment. I know that he loved and felt kinship with that lonely Texas landscape as much as I did, too. And most amazing was that all that was secondary to our love and life as partners. But it's impossible to NOT regret everything that "might have been" - isn't it? Yep.

Today I received an unexpected snail-mail with a photo taken at a get-together of us hugging.

Merlin Fraser from Cotswold Hills on July 11, 2011:

Hi Nellieanna,

My favourite quote from this piece is;

"It was the major AHA of my life when I realizied I was really good at something of real value and that there need be no limit to improving in it!"

It brought back memories of my father's comments upon seeing one of my efforts at woodwork or some such skill requiring hand and eye coordinated skill of which I lack. He said "Son I hope for your sake you will be able to make a living with your brains...!"

For most of his life he never really knew what I did, first in the Navy and then later in the oil industry.

After he recovered from a serious illness I got him a small part time job in the offices of company I work with.

One day I arrived at the office and saw him at his desk and went over to chat to him, he seemed a little ill at ease and he told me that I should make myself scarce because they were expecting some big hot shot VIP at any minute.

I know it was wrong of me but I did enjoy his moment of discomfort as the Managing Director of the company came over in our direction followed by quite an entourage, hand outstretched in welcome together with an apology for keeping me waiting !

I have no idea who was prouder at that exact moment in time, Father or son ?

PS.... He was right, of course, if it were not for my brains I would have undoubtedly starved !

How I envy your talents which seem boundless, although I suspect actually require years of dedication and practice.

50 Caliber from Arizona on July 11, 2011:

Nellieanna, a significant article on the lost arts it seams[pun?] My fathers mother laid excellent stitching by hand making shirts, dresses, quilts, you name it. The garment industry of the south brought my father to attend the Singer sewing machine repair school that taught them to sew on the machines before they taught repair, they put the students on the street showing the machines and demonstrating the latest models, as a job to feed them and pay their tuition to the school. A pretty crafty move on Singers part, yet effective. I learned to sew on the machine you have and I have one as well that was left to me by my father, I was the only child to learn from him and instead of needing repairs to my clothes, I just sat down and did them after learning how. Then and now I wear clothes with many a patch sewn on, seems like a contest against myself how long I can wear a favorite shirt or jeans. I have a 50 year old blue and white striped engineers hat that is still worn often and sports every seem redone by hand at one time or another. It folds up nicely and fits a rear pocket from back when it was considered improper to wear a hat indoors and definitely not at the dinner table. Times have changed that I spose, but It was pocketed on my motorcycle much of the time when riding at highway speeds of 60 or more.

Thanks for a great article, I'll be looking for part two, Blessings, dust

Martie Coetser from South Africa on July 11, 2011:

I learnt how to sew on a Singer portable. Eventually my mother bought a Bernina. During the first years in marriage I used the old Singer until I bought an Elna.... and sew on and so forth. . .

Nowadays I make clothes only when I can't find what I want in shops, or whenever I feel inspired. Like now after I’ve read this hub of yours, Nellianna, I feel inspired. I’ve got boxes filled with fabrics waiting to be changed into clothes. Maybe this Saturday I will... if I don’t get an idea for a new hub..))) Enjoy your sewing!

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 11, 2011:

FP - What fun to see you, gal! Haha. Well, if you can take up a hem, sew on a button or mend a rip, you're probably way ahead of the majority of folks walking around! As tiny as I perceive you to be, you probably have to hem a lot of skirts, pants-legs and sleeves that would otherwise reach the tips of your fingers! Story of my life, too.

It's clear that you found other soaring avenues to pursue for your destiny, as I did, as well. The sewing was simply my first "light at the end of the tunnel", though, and proved to be a lasting chandelier!

I think many people become turned off by their early and possibly only exposure to various arts & crafts taught by rigid teachers or critical mothers. I learned many techniques in those classes all through my school career, but they often seemed bent on stifling creativity & innovation, sometimes even discouraging the use of common sense! Those qualities were not the ones that were rewarded, at any rate! I stuck with it, though. I seriously wanted to become a designer and didn't want to leave any stone unturned in mastering every part of it. I did much research and study on my own. When I did my practice teaching in a 9th grade Home Economics class of enthusiastic and responsive 14-year-olds who eagerly responded to any challenge, I was delighted. It felt like a "calling" for me, too.

My mother was my inspiration. She could sew anything with great technique and flair. Some of her early handwork are works of art. She could do it all - knitting, crochet. She even tatted, a lost art now. But in many ways she was an unconventional mom. She had the marvelous talent to NOT discourage my efforts, even when they were obviously primitive, & she didn't even overly-supervize them. I've noticed that many daughters of good seamstresses grow up to either despise sewing or just never felt sufficient need to learn it. Plus daughters often have contrary interests to their mothers. But for us gals, it's always possible to pick things up later if the need or interest occurs and/or to develop our own bents.

When I spent that entire summer in my teens making that tailored suit, she was happy to go out and get a spool of thread or some interfacing, - whatever I needed. Otherwise, she just let me work my way through and do it. She could see that I was "doing my homework" on it. She'd let me buy an expensive Vogue 'Paris Couture' pattern. It was a Madame Schiaparelli design with some very intricate details. The pattern included several sheets of good instructions, which I studied and followed faithfully. She'd let me buy a lovely aqua wool gabardine fabric, and, of course, a matching silky lining fabric. These were enormous concessions! She had never fully recovered from The Great Depression years! But she considered it worthwhile spending: education for me.

I learned so much from her by observation in many areas. She didn't tell me how unless I asked. She demonstrated and I observed. The only sewing related failing she had was that she absolutely seemed to lack any consistent idea how to fit things to the human body! I used to laugh and say she invented the "sack dress". It's a bit of an exaggeration, but accurate enough to inspire me to get busy and learn to sew for myself! I was rather happy with my developing figure and liked for my clothes to fit it flatteringly! Since it was very rarely that I had "store-bought" clothes, and those were mostly gifts from my eldest sister, I realized that I had the two choices! haha.

Hugs, sweet friend and thank you for coming and commenting!.

Nellieanna Hay (author) from TEXAS on July 11, 2011:

Hyphenbird - Thank you! It's a most satisfying activity in so many ways. I love that it combines creativity and many other of one's abilities and it's fun, practical and useful. Hugs.

Feline Prophet on July 10, 2011:

Is there no end to your talents, Nellieanna? I still remember my apron-sewing 'Needlework' classes in school - we spent more time harassing the teacher than learning how to sew! Thanks to her perseverance however, I did manage to learn how to thread a needle and make reasonably straight stitches but I've never since undertaken a project more ambitious than taking up a hem! :)

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on July 10, 2011:

I love sewing, machine, hand, cross, everything. What a lovely Hub.

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