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...a glimpse into life on Vancouver Island, needle felting, photography, food, gardening, etcetera...etcetera
"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The gift that keeps on giving...

It was hers as a young lady...
probably bought not long after she was married...
The craftsmanship was beautifully detailed...
And now it has been handed down to another generation.
This was my Great Grandma Cairns White sewing machine.
Used well into her old age, handed down to my Grandmother, my Aunt, my mother
and now to me.
If this beauty could talk and tell tales of the mending, the quilts, the baby clothes,
the pretty dresses, the curtains.
The life on Saltspring Island.
Then life in the little house near the city on Battleford.
It sat by a window and sewed a thousand miles of cloth.
I feel so honored to have inherited it.
Still loved and in tact.
Original bobbins and attachment case...
Original instructions as well...
 Even has the original key...
I'm not quite sure why you would lock up sewing notions...maybe it
would have been the needle drawer, to keep curious little hands out.
This machine would have been sold by the Sears company and although it
looks fancy to my eyes, it was the norm back
 in the day to have all of these lovely details...
Love the built-in ruler...
Heavy cast iron so it would last...
Seems like now days they make things so they break down
within a few years. These machines were TOUGH!
Have you ever used a treadle sewing machine?
It takes A LOT of practice to get the rhythm down
to an art. If you dont' get the proper technique going,
the machine starts to sew backwards.
Very frustrating.
I guess that's why I found these in the drawer as well!!...
So here it sits in my studio, hopeful to be sewing cloth again.
It stands directly across from my other machine, which I use
all the time...
This one was my Grandma's and then my mom's.
My daughter's prom dress was made on it with
a lot of help from my Grandma!
These are the gifts that keep on giving.
The things that whisper to me of the life before me.
That remind me of the women who I am getting to
know over and over again.
The fragments of their lives which grow bigger and bigger
every time a story is told or an artifact of their life is brought back into the light.
I didn't know my Great Grandma that well since I grew up 3,000 miles away from her but
when we finally did come back to the West Coast, we visited her regularly.
She was kind and gentle and always smiled.
This is how I remember her, not long before she died 3 months short
of her 100th birthday. Still living at home with her daughter, my Aunt San.
Maybe one day this old machine will be part of my daughters household.
(here with her Great Great Grandma in 1983)
And hopefully one day I will master the rhythms of the treadle and bring
her gift to life once again.


acornmoon said...

Oh, how lovely that you have such a treasure. I am sure you will get into the knack of using it but I know what you mean, it can run away with you and not always in the direction you want to go in!

Suz said...

what a treasure
and is that the same woman as in the first photo....which I found so interesting....100?
I guess I should take up sewing

the wild magnolia said...

a very beautiful and meaningful sharing.

thank you.

Valerie Brown said...

What a fantastic old machine - you are very fortunate that it was treasured and passed down to you. I have sewn with a treadle sewing machine, when I was a kid (so a lifetime ago!). It was my Grandma's sewing machine, and I remember it fondly.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Suz: Yes, that is my Great Grandma in the first photo as a young lass.
Maybe sewing and smiling are keys to longevity!

Val: Yes I hope I can get the knack for sewing with it then I can use it if the power is out!

farmlady said...

This is beautiful, Kerry. All those memories tied up in a family heirloom.
It couldn't have gone to anyone else who would have appreciated it more.
A beautiful and heartwarming story...
that continues on.
The photo of your great grandma is lovely. Do I see a bit of you in her eyes?

JeannetteLS said...

That is a treasure to keep and thank you for the wonderful photographs as well.