This first appeared in my column in the The Prospect News a year ago today.
Did you know it is Threading the Needle Day? Neither did I. The creator of the day is unknown so we don’t know who to pat on the back for this one. It does bring to mind threading an embroidery needle to work on the requirements for a Girl Scout badge, exasperating for my mother since I had to be shown every new stitch every step of the way. Somewhere in the house is a linen towel with my first attempts. It was good enough to get the badge for Mom to sew onto my sash. I certainly wasn’t going to do it.
There WERE times I sewed when I didn’t have to. Remember bean bags? Those were fun to make, to throw at my brother or to play games in the yard with the cousins at Grandma’s. Once in a while I did take a bit of pride in that project and tried to make invisible stitches like Momo’s stitches. Never worked. Hers were tiny and smooth and hard to find. Mine were bulky and ugly and obvious.
Both of my grandmothers were creative, be it sewing or crocheting, quilting or tatting. Momo Pearson always had a project going, as did Grandma Bizzell. Momo had the knack for tiny delicate stitches, and Grandma Tom had the knack for whipping up a rug or a hat using just her fingers and the materials at hand. Both were amazing with craft and patience in teaching not-so-patient granddaughters some of the skills.
I have fond memories of making Barbie doll clothes on a treadle machine with Momo and my cousin Gayla during visits to the Pearson grandparents when they lived on A highway. During the same break from school I would later sit at the kitchen table with Momo Tom, by the door so she could see if someone came into Bizzell’s Grocery on 160 E, and make pictures with thread on pieces of burlap.
All of it was way more fun than the sewing I did in my one year of home ec in 7th grade. I spent as much time ripping the seams out as I did creating them, so when I finished that one potholder and single wrap-around skirt, my desire to thread needles – on a machine or by hand – vanished.
As a wife and mother I sang the praises of iron-on tape. I could make curtains out of bold flowered bed sheets and whip up a thrift store costume for Anthony’s acting premiere in a Knoxville, TN mall without fretting and hunting for needle and thread. I have never wanted to own a sewing machine. Macrame was a favorite pastime in the 80’s. I can knit, and I still love to make potholders on those dime store looms and fiddle around with latch hook projects. No needle required.
Threading the Needle Day is also be a time to celebrate those who have the knack for maintaining friendships with pals on opposite sides of the political fence. ‘Walking a fine line’ means the same thing. In this day and age we all have to work on ‘threading the needle’ to keep peace and maintain cherished connections to function in this controversial world. No man is an island.