Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Lost Skill

When I was purchasing this wooden darning egg at the retirement community thrift store this weekend, my cashier commented that he hadn't seen one of these in years. It's true that the art of darning has largely been lost. When our fabric was homegrown, homespun and hand stitched it was very valuable and darning samplers like this one prepared girls to mend the household linens and clothing. My mother was a child of the Depression (as well as a New Englander of Scottish descent), so I remember moments of frugality in our household. She would stretch the heel of my father's socks over a lightbulb (same shape but much less charming than this darning egg) and attempt to darn them. She must not have mastered this skill because I remember my father complaining that they felt lumpy to walk on. I don't darn or even stitch very much, but I can't resist collecting vintage needlework tools like this one that remind me of a time when women shaped their lives with a needle.