Monday, October 23, 2006

make new friends, but keep the old

Meet Helen. She's a circa 1960 Singer Slant-O-Matic. Her name is a memorial to her original owner, the woman from whom we bought our house, who left behind her sewing machine along with its manual, oil can, box of extra feet and throat plates, itty-bitty screwdriver, Art Moderne sewing table and, in one of its drawers, a copy of The Complete Book of Sewing, copyright 1943. (I was going to post a picture, but there was no way I could stop at just one. A whole book could seriously be written about that book. Or a whole blog, if you wish.) Helen was, fortunately, a supremely organized person. She all but gift-wrapped everything I would need to take up sewing again, and so I have.

She even left a million little paper packets of needles – and the randomly repurposed boxes she kept them in (ahem!).

Lady's Man brand aside, sometimes I try to imagine the lives Helen and her husband, Edward, lived here in this house. She was his second wife. (We keep around a photograph of Edward with his first wife which we found in the basement.) She mended their underwear, specimens of which I also found in the drawers of the sewing table. He kept fish for a hobby. On our circuit breaker, there is a room labeled "fish room" (it's the room that will become my studio, in fact). We also found umpteen fish bowls and a mummified fish skull. After he died, she rented rooms.

Helen (the machine) is a workhorse. She can be temperamental at times, but she gets the job done. Her next mission, should she choose to accept it: turning a toddler into a lobster for Halloween. One week to go – better get cracking on that one!

If I haven't been spending quite enough time with Helen lately, it's because I have a crush on someone new.

Since this little beauty arrived, we've been practically joined at the lap. Somehow, though, I don't think she's going to be passed down through the generations in quite the same way as Helen.


Anonymous meg said...

way cool sewing machine & love the story behind it.

yay you on the new laptop (and cool tablecloth)

5:53 PM  
Anonymous kirsten said...

why don't they name things 'x-o-matic' anymore? i miss the '0-matic'. very 1960.
nice history that you have with your machine and your house!

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Snort! Lady's Man... Some boxes weren't meant to be repurposed for storing sewing notions but they make for such a good story when they are.

Your machines, both old and new, are true beauties. Silver and gold, indeed.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous gardenhoe/sara said...

Lovely story. I too have somewhere along the line come into the pround ownership of The Complete Book Of Sewing. A true gem. Just the other day I was thinking of posting a few images on flickr, but realized it one or two images wouldn't do it justice. So glad that someone else has discovered the delight that is that book.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Claire Falkigham said...

Oh you lucky, lucky girl! Fancy finding such treasure in your home - meant to be me thinks!!

3:35 AM  

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