Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Little Things

Enjoy the little things,

for one day you may look back and

realize they were the big things.

Four artifacts. Old pieces, family pieces. I feel they connect me through years with women I love and my heritage. All are simple sewing tools. The basic items that a seamstress needs to complete a task.

The first is a simple sewing thimble. Sterling silver, misshapen, I found it in an antique stand years ago. I’ve always used a thimble, can’t hold a needle without one, as a matter of fact. As I slipped it on my middle finger, it seemed as though someone had purposely shaped it to fit my particular, one-of-a-kind, finger.

The next is a thimble, but not a simple one. Housed in a leather case, sitting on a velvet lined pedestal. A gold thimble! Shinny bright and engraved with my great-grandmother’s name, Mrs. C. F. Showalter. I never met her; only know her through stories shared by my mother, aunt, and grandma. She lived with them at home until my mother was about five. An Irish woman, deeply spiritual in a magical type of way. I’ve seen her stitches. Fitting for someone who sewed with a golden thimble. Fine satin stitches made with silken thread that simply glows. The piece I’m thinking about has vivid purples, gold, and green. A thread painting of thistle flowers on linen. Exquisite stitching.

Great-grandmother's golden thimble

These next two pieces belonged to my grandmother. A seam ruler and thread scissors. I learned much about sewing by observing Grandma. She was never without her current knitting project. In fact, she did teach me to knit. I wish I knew all the stitches she was capable of making. What I learned about sewing though, has served me well. She taught me that measuring must be precise and equal. Hide the loose ends of every thread. Use the point of the scissor to turn a sharp corner. NEVER use thread or fabric scissors on paper. These pieces are also silver. Well worn due to use over the years. The scissor is much sharper than any newer pair I’ve ever tried. I’ve had plastic/metal seam rulers that either bend or break.

Simple sewing tools

I like to think of the similarities I have of these women. I’m told I bear significant physical resemblance to my great-grandmother. Grandma used to turn my pieces over to examine the back. She never failed to remark how nice it looked, even on the back. “Just like Mama,” she’d compliment me. When I bake something special for someone, I’m nearly always reminded of Grandma. Her specialties were fudge, chocolate cake, and caramels. She’d make them with the person to eat them in mind, as an act of blessing. I often do the same as I prepare a meal or make a treat to share.

The differences can’t help but come to mind, however. I would never be known as a Mrs. of the man’s name. Even when married, I kept my maiden name as my own part of the wedded name, unable to toss that part of myself away. Of course, she lived in a much different time and world than me. I don’t always have the courage to stand up for what I truly believe in the way Grandma did. In fact, sometimes I’m not even always sure what my stance is on a particular issue, too able to see both sides of the story.

These artifacts remind me of my connection to these special women. I think my interest in sewing as an art form is a gift from both of them. As I either sew or create something else I feel the connection through them to my spirituality. I hope I can continue to grow in both my artistic and spirituality as a way of expressing my gratitude to the legacy they gave me.

Just as Grandma taught me sewing, along with cooking, caring for animals, and the ways of being a lady, by example, she taught me from a very early age about God and spirituality as a way of living life. She took me with her to the Sunday school class she taught. I remember literally sitting on her knee as she led the teenagers in the lesson. Her study time during the day was sacred, not to be interrupted. She would, however invite me in to share that special time with her. A beautiful example, as it was a daily discipline, done not out of duty, but love.


  1. Linda, nice to see you back!
    This was a lovely post, just lovely. I felt a family connection today as well. My daughter sat for the first day of the bar exam today. I gave her my necklace to wear for good luck. It is just a gold chain with my father's mother's locket and my mother's mother's ring - thought they could give her strength.
    I also have a thimble story - even though I cannot sew worth a hill of beans! My very dear aunt, who was a wonderful seamstress (sewed my bridesmaid dresses), gave me a thimble when I got married. She enclosed a note that read - "may your troubles never be more than will fit in this thimble". She is gone now and I treasure it.
    I hope D is doing well and you are coping well enough without him.

  2. Thanks for your nice comment, Jeanette! Didn't realize she was already sitting for the exam. Sending light and love her way. Thanks for sharing the story. What a treasure! I haven't had much access to the internet, away at the lake for the summer. Life returns to normal when school is back in session. Soon!