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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pensamientos: Techno Phobia for Sewists

Have you ever read any references to the horror of depending on some terrible new technology, over the wholesome value of, say, a nice, neat hand stitch?  Bet you dollars to doughnuts people were up in arms over  the invasion of this new-fangled gizmo into domestic life.

Of course there were also those who complained when the printing press got going. The children won't learn to memorize anymore! Kids don't memorize things much and I wonder how much impact that has on our society of readers? I still like to memorize, and I enjoy hand work but the printing press and the sewing machine have had a pretty big impact on my life.

The Sewing Machine was once new technology, humming along and making a terrible racket. I'm shouting, Hurrah for the Hum! 

The following excerpt from the 1914 book, Letters of a Woman Homesteader (now in the public domain), by Elinore Pruitt Stewart, gives an excellent impression of the value of the sewing machine in frontier life. There are free versions of this book at Guttenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16623) and free audio versions at librivox.org. (BTW there is a racial label used in this section of the book, that we wouldn't dream of using today. So if you're sharing the store with a younger person, it's an excellent opportunity to discuss historical attitudes towards societal roles, as displayed by language.)

After we debated a bit we decided we could not enjoy Christmas with those people in want up there in the cold. Then we got busy. It is sixty miles to town,
although our nearest point to the railroad is but forty, so you see it
was impossible to get to town to get anything. You should have seen us!
Every old garment that had ever been left by men who have worked here
was hauled out, and Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's deft fingers soon had a pile
of garments cut. We kept the machine humming until far into the night,
as long as we could keep our eyes open.

All next day we sewed as hard as we could, and Gavotte cooked as hard
as he could. We had intended to have a tree for Jerrine, so we had a
box of candles and a box of Christmas snow. Gavotte asked for all the
bright paper we could find. We had lots of it, and I think you would be
surprised at the possibilities of a little waste paper. He made
gorgeous birds, butterflies, and flowers out of paper that once wrapped
parcels. Then he asked us for some silk thread, but I had none, so he
told us to comb our hair and give him the combings. We did, and with a
drop of mucilage he would fasten a hair to a bird's back and then hold
it up by the hair. At a few feet's distance it looked exactly as though
the bird was flying. .... I never had so much
fun in my life as I had preparing for that Christmas.

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