Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Tools of the trade

I have taken some photos of my little stitching station that comes with me everywhere  -  almost all of the things that accompany me and that I use just about every day in life!

This is the tray that I set my small work tools on  -  scissors, needles etc. It is the top of a shoe box  -  shoe boxes are such extremely useful items!  -  and I covered it in a nice piece of fabric I had bought some time ago. It stays by my side and is transported to uni and anywhere else I go where I can stitch.

To itemise what the tray holds, these are, first of all, a leather thimble, a metal thimble from the Holy Land, some paper bobbins  -  very useful things, these  -  and a new needle threader which I hope is going to last considerably longer than the usual somewhat flimsy kind one finds on sale. I wear the leather thimble on the right hand and metal one on the left. I was very touched to receive this latter thimble as a gift from Angela, a friend in Rugby who had been on a trip to the Holy Land  -  it says 'Sea of Galilee' on it and has a basket and fish designs on it  -  it means a lot to me. I remember my paternal grandmother, who had worked as a dressmaker, saying that you should never be without a thimble. When I first did some sewing/stitching some years ago, I didn't find wearing a thimble at all comfortable and only used it occasionally when I really needed to. Now I do find thimbles indispensable. The leather one has a little metal tip inside and I really couldn't work without them.

These next items are, going in a clockwise direction, first of all a box with long glass-headed pins then a small screwdriver which is excellent for tightening hoops. This screwdriver came with my Bernina sewing machine and Bernina don't make the screwdriver any more, so this one is precious!

Next is my heart-shaped pin-cushion. This, too, is precious but a very different reason  -  Juls made it for me years ago at school and I have kept it by me ever since she gave it to me. She sewed a floral motif on the upper side with 'Mum' underneath. It's getting somewhat worn but I'll keep on using it until it positively falls apart  -  I probably will first! I store my glass-headed pins on it and preserve the little floral shape given to it by Juls' in the colours of the tops. These items made at school can be really great  -  Ed made an ice scraper for Arthur for the car and, as with my pin-cushion, it lives in the car and is used still!

On the right is a needle case that I made when I was starting out to embroider and finally a little mirror given to me by my mother a considerable time ago. It started out as a dressing-table mirror with matching brush and used to have a long handle. I'm not exactly sure, but it may have been when the handle was broken that I started using the mirror as a work tool. Anyhow, it fits nicely on my tray as it is and is so useful when I'm stitching  -  as when doing any kind of artwork, I always find it so helpful to look at the work in a mirror and  if I'm not sure whether a dark or light thread is needed next or when choosing a shade, looking in the mirror always helps me make my decision.

These are the scissors I carry, the largest for cutting fabrics and the other two for both thread and material. The little gold ones came with the rather nice leather case. Both smaller pairs were chosen partly for their sharply pointed ends but these don't seem as good now as when they were purchased. I don't know whether I can sharpen them or will need to buy replacements. The other small tool is for unpicking work and, like the screwdriver, came with my Bernina. As with rubbing out, unpicking is not done often (an embroiderer I met once said she just never unpicks) but I have found that there are times when it becomes necessary and this tool is the best I've found for the job.

These are two of my cloth marking pencils which work very well and the little brush on the end of one has come in quite handy from time to time. The rubber is a specialist one for cloth and works surprisingly well. I always find it useful to have a ruler on hand, even one as small as this!

These are just a few personal items that I keep on my tray  -  on the left, a parcel decoration which comes from the last gift given to me by my mother before she died, then a 'cross in my pocket' from St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. This was given to me by a very dear friend, Margaret, now 93 years if age and who I can't get to see very often any more. She brought the cross back to me from a cruise she made with another friend to the Northern Isles and Scandinavia a few years ago when she was still able to make the trip. Beside this is a pouch for the two meditation beads, also pictured, that Arthur brought back to me from Indonesia.

A few of the tools grouped on the little 'tray within a tray'.

These are two photos of Arthur, Juls and Ed that are beside me at my work station in the living-room at home. I used to keep a favourite photo of the three propped at the back of my tray but it disappeared mysteriously after a trip to St Davids when we stayed in a lovely cottage and I haven't dared keep a photo on the tray ever since! Photos are, however, everywhere else, in the living-room, studio at home, studio at uni, bedroom . . . . . .

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