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Homemaking – Needle Arts

Do you do any hand embroidery, needlepoint or crewel work?  Is sewing your forte?  Have you tried macrame, tatting, weaving or making lace?  Can you crochet or knit?

My love of hand needle arts began with some of the books I read as a young girl.  Victorian & Colonial girls learning embroidery and making samplers as part of their essential education.  Victorian ladies embroidering silk ribbon to supplement the family income.  Women knitting special items for loved ones.  Smocking… because elastic wasn’t readily available.  Young women making items for their hope chests, filling it with doilies, tablecloths, nightgowns, baby things and all manner of home-keeping items.


Knitting a pair of baby booties always seemed to be the way a pregnancy was announced (or assumed), as can be seen here the Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers film, “Swing Time”.  Ginger’s character is repairing her little dog’s sweater and everyone thinks she is pregnant.

EMBROIDERY – – I have done hand embroidery and needlepoint since I was a young girl.  I don’t remember my mom teaching me and I don’t remember seeing her do any hand needle work.  I think I got either a book or a kit and taught myself.  I learned new stitches from following the step-by-step directions as I needed them.  One crewel work piece my mom framed and hung up on her wall.  It made me so proud!  She still has that piece, but the colors were the oranges & browns of the 60’s & 70’s… NOT my style!

SEWING – – When I attended government school they still taught Home Economics classes for girls.  I don’t think much of the “home making education” provided there.  All the cooking was by recipe and there was NOTHING on keeping or running a home.  I have since learned so much more about cooking & baking with my participation in the Gluten Free Ratio Rally, being freed from the bonds of any recipe.  Now I can create from what I have on hand using a ratio for a specific type of baked good!!  This is SO freeing!  Home Economics classes were also where I furthered some of my sewing skills.

I learned to sew on my mom’s Singer knee-pedal electric machine.  A sturdy, rounded, black iron thing with a crinkle finish all set in a beautiful wooden table.  I wish I had that machine!! When I was 10, my dad purchased me my first sewing machine.  I started out sewing clothing for my barbie dolls.  Later I made much of my own clothing and as a new mom I sewed much of my children’s clothing.  I used that machine until it would no longer stitch anything but a straight stitch!  The gears were all plastic and it was not repairable.  The Patriarch bought me a basic Bernina machine about 15 years ago.  I have sewn clothing, curtains and quilts with it.

In the course of my prepping I purchased a treadle sewing machine.  Well, I hace actually purchased two.  I learned which treadle sewing machine I should have purchased for use  after I bought the first one.  It took a bit longer to find the Singer Model 15-88 but she’s a beauty!!  The 15-88 is equipped with built in lever stitch length regulation and reverse, plus lowering feed dogs. The Class 15 action is a good strong one. This machine uses standard needles and standard low shank feet, and will accept all of the modern piecing, even feed and darning feet.  I was even able to find a full set of specialized feet for this treadle!!  So with or without electricity I can still sew.   The absolute BEST site for excellent information on treadle sewing machines is TreadleOn.net.  The entire site is dedicated to promoting the USE of hand-cranked and treadle sewing machines.  I give you fair warning… it is very addicting reading!

WEAVING – – I remember taking summer classes at my elementary school where we made woven hot pads from cotton or wool rings and key chains from plastic lacing.  I loved making those spirals!!  Arrow has been making me hot pads with wool rings in colors to match my kitchen and they are the best hot pads!!  He also made key rings with the plastic lacing.  Each Christmas I try to find something he can make as gifts and learn a new skill at the same time.  The best loom I found & for the best price was through Hands & Hearts.  He loves his weaving!!

CROCHET – – In the late 70’s we moved to the west coast to my husband’s duty station.  We lived in off-base housing in an apartment complex.  I became friends with another young mom who taught me to crochet.  I loved all the things I could make for gifts, for my baby to wear and play with.  I have taught myself various stitches as I have needed them in a project.  I set aside my crocheting for many years.  But with the stress of the economy and the political situation I started up again.  I NEEDED something to keep my hands and mind busy.  It was an added bonus that I had some great gifts for friends and family!

Grand-daughter’s baby blanket

blanket for friend’s baby

sweater for friend’s baby

Crocheted Dishcloths

I currently have been making baby blankets, booties and sweet baby sweaters for friends and loads of dishcloths for me.  I even have some crocheted soap savers in my e-store.

KNIT – –

At the concert and the play
Everywhere you see them sitting,
Knitting, knitting.
Women who the other day
Thought of nothing but their frocks
Or their jewels or their locks,
Women who have lived for pleasure,
Who have known no work but leisure,
Now are knitting, knitting, knitting
For the soldiers over there.

On the trains and on the ships
With a diligence befitting,
They are knitting.
Some with smiles upon their lips,
Some with manners debonair,
Some with earnest look and air.
But each heart in its own fashion,
Weaves in pity and compassion
In their knitting, knitting, knitting
For the soldiers over there.

Hurried women to and fro
From their homes to labour flitting,
Knitting, knitting,
Busy handed come and go.
Broken bits of time they spare,
Just to feel they do their share,
Just to keep life’s sense of beauty
In the doing of a duty,
They are knitting, knitting, knitting
For the soldiers over there.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1919 in her book, “Poems of Optimism”

Blessings, ~Aunt Mae (aka ~Mrs. R)

Photo Credits: captioned photos are my own, artwork & vintage photos from art.com, movie still I captured, loom from Hands & Hearts website

Also Shared Here: The Better Mom, What Joy Is Mine, Raising Arrows, Homestead Revival, A Mama’s Story, The Modest Mom’s Blog, Above Rubies, Time Warp Wife, Growing Home, A Pause on the Path, Thankful Homemaker, Heavenly Homemakers, Hip Homeschool Moms, Like a Mustard Seed, Raising Homemakers, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, We Are THAT Family, Deep Roots at Home, Women Living Well, Intentional Me, Our Simple Country Life, Homemaker By Choice, Your Thriving Family,

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{ 10 comments… add one }

  • Charlotte Moore September 27, 2012, 4:49 PM

    I left a message earlier and it is not here. I love the pink baby blanket and sweater.

    • ~Aunt Mae (~Mrs. R) September 28, 2012, 3:12 AM

      Funny thing… I saw it earlier and responded to it. I don’t see my response either… but it is in my comment section. Not sure why it didn’t show up… Thanks for commenting again!

  • Wonderwoman October 8, 2012, 4:55 PM

    Lovely post! Love the pictures too…would love a treadle sewing machine. My mother in law had a lovely one but converted it to an electronic one sometime in the seventies.

    • ~Aunt Mae (~Mrs. R) October 9, 2012, 1:10 PM

      Thank you for your kind comments on my post and pictures!! I love having a treadle sewing machine that works!

  • Rebecca October 9, 2012, 4:41 PM

    Beautiful work! Looking at your handiwork made me missing the days when I had time to cross-stitch.

    • ~Aunt Mae (~Mrs. R) October 10, 2012, 12:30 PM

      Thank you Rebecca for you kind words. I do a lot of my work when we are driving in the van somewhere. I can still hold a conversation, put my work down for a bit to view the scenery, and get some of my needle work done! I can’t do that with the cross stitch project I am working on though… I opted for a very tiny weave and can only work on this one at home!
      Blessings, ~Aunt Mae

  • What Joy Is Mine October 14, 2012, 2:44 PM

    I love this post. I believe its important that our daughter learn needle arts. She taught herself, with a little of my help, how to crochet. She is presently learning how to sew. (Just finished her first quilt.) And she can cross stitch. My mom could sew anything and crochet so she influenced me to do the same. I quilt, sew, crochet, cross stitch and embroider. I find it relaxing and fun. Thank you for sharing at WJIM. Blessings.

    • ~Aunt Mae (~Mrs. R) October 14, 2012, 9:37 PM

      Thank you for your very sweet words about my post! I have always loved doing ‘needle arts’… ever since I was quite young. I do not remember my mom doing any, or teaching me. I was mostly self taught with a miniscule smattering of classes in home ec classes (when they still taught homemaking!! well “some” anyway). I loved to read about the days when very young girls were taught embroidery and had to complete their samplers. The young girls in today’s society are learning nothing to help them be a wife, mother or keeper at home. I have had a number of women ask me to teach them how to crochet… and I think I should place that higher on my priority list! I see that as my small part in teaching the younger women to … be keepers at home. Maybe knitting a sweater for their husbands would also be part of how they show love to him as well. Thank you so much for sharing the needle arts you enjoy working on!! I would love to see one of your projects.
      Blessings, ~Aunt Mae

  • Pam October 15, 2012, 4:05 AM

    Hi! I’m visiting from Intentional Me. I’m linked right after you and had to smile as I discovered what your post was about. You see I am so not crafty and wish I was. I admire you ladies who do such wonderful work. When I saw your segment on weaving another smile crossed my face as a young girl made me a weaved pot holder just yesterday. I enjoyed reading and seeing your work. Have a blessed week!

    • ~Aunt Mae (~Mrs. R) October 15, 2012, 8:11 PM

      Thank you for visiting. I am so glad you enjoyed my post!
      Blessings to you, ~Aunt Mae

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