From my mother I learned to sew. I was probably five or six when she started me with simple embroidery, as I recall, to pacify me on trips. During the summers we’d head to Arkansas or Missouri to camp and I can remember embroidering flowers on muslin with bright pretty cotton floss in pinks, purples and greens.
By the time I was an early teen I was sewing my own clothes using Mom’s machine. We’d moved from Tulsa to Mannford by then. The Spring of 1974 I was fourteen going on fifteen and enamored with satin stitching on my bell bottomed jeans, likely influenced by Janis Joplin, who had died but was still my favorite. (Is still my favorite female singer.)
One particular Saturday Mom was at the bait shop working and I was at home using her sewing machine easing the denim this way and that beneath the needle. Suddenly all progress stopped. The needle had gone straight through my left index finger. I remember staring at my hand, then slowly turning the wheel right and left watching my finger rise and fall skewered on the needle. It took long moments to realize I had to take the feeder foot and several other pieces apart before I could move the needle to the top position and slide my finger off.
Once my finger I was free I made it dazedly to the bathroom and wrapped it on a towel. The blood had begun spurting in the same rhythm as my pounding heart. I called Mom. “Lie down on the couch. I’ll be home soon.”
What seemed like hours later, but was probably twenty minutes, Mom walked in the door with hamburgers and onion rings from Caudle’s Drive In. The best burgers in town. Comfort food. A cold cloth on my head and a pressure bandage applied to my finger, Mom told me about the time as a newlywed sewing on the machine my father had bought her she’d sewed her finger through. She’d taken the machine apart and climbed several flights of stairs before passing out.
In some ways I’m much different than my mom, but from her I gained a love of handwork. Whether it is garment construction, mending, quilting, or knitting, my joy of sewing comes from those early years and my mother’s willingness in letting me find my own way, however crazy and fearless, in my fiber pursuits.
I can’t thank you enough Mom.