This sewing machine was my father’s present to me, a couple of years before he died. He saw this machine advertised for sale in the local Border Mail and thought it was about time that youngest daughter- of -his, had her own decent, sewing machine to work with. He cleaned it up, serviced it , added a few new bits and delivered it, unannounced and unceremoniously to my door, in Melbourne.
Dad was, by trade, a mechanic. Not a mechanic of cars and trucks, even though he serviced and maintained all of our family cars with ease and skill, but an industrial machine mechanic. He met my mum while they were both working in knitting mills in Landsdowne, Cape Town, South Africa. As well as fixing and maintaining industrial sewing machines at those knitting mills, he also had to maintain and fix the ironing presses. Ironically, while this job helped him to find the love of his life, it was also, in the end, responsible for his death. While fixing these ironing presses dad came into frequent contact with deteriorating asbestos linings inside the machines. This is where he is most likely to have contracted asbestosis, that lead to mesothelioma and his death, many years later.
Mum is a dressmaker. A fairy-godmother -of -a -seamstress who could whip up: beautiful dresses; outfits for special occasions; tailored suits; bathers for the summer holidays; the most amazing costumes for dancers and performers; as well as curtains and soft furnishings. She patiently taught me how to sew when I was a kid.
Mum doesn’t sew anymore. At 83 , her eyes can’t cope with threading needles and precision. My sister often relied on mum to make or adjust clothes. We realised that we had lost the much relied on convenience of mum’s sewing skills a couple of years ago. My sister wanted mum to finish off a quilt that she had made for a new, great nephew. Mum had just had some eye surgery done and I was staying with her at the time. Reluctantly, I had to step up and finish off the quilt under the guidance and supervision of my mum. This was a hard thing to do. My mum was such a talented seamstress. When I was a kid I used to sit with her in the sunroom, amidst all the beautiful fabrics , sorting boxes of threads into colour lots and watching her work. Unfortunately very little of mum’s talent rubbed- off onto any of her daughters. I tried to learn as much as I could, but was never disciplined enough. I am better singer than seamstress! ( no pun re: Singer machines intended!) Nonetheless, the baton was passed that day. But, my sister doesn’t ask me to make or adjust clothes for her. She is a wise woman!
I have dabbled with sewing all my adult life. I use fabric and sewing techniques in much of my artwork. I have used this skill to keep myself employed, as a artist’s studio assistant on more than 1 occasion. It’s the kind of thing that I might hesitantly suggest is in my blood… as if, skills could be somehow, magically morphed and embedded into our genetic code. Imagine that!
So, with a bedroom of the north east Vic house awkwardly decked out as a make-do studio for now, the sewing machine is out again! It’s predictable that, when I feel a little displaced, unsure, lost for direction and inspiration, I drag out the sewing machine. Some artists reach for drawing tools, I reach for the needle and thread.
Music turned up (playlist = jazz divas)…foot to the pedal and voice ringing out above the rattle of the machine’s motor…here’s what I’ve been dabbling with. A new bag for myself to carry crochet projects and needles in, and a couple of other bags that will probably end up as gifts. :)
"Make daisy chains ... "
There is little point starting from the why, because starting from the why means that you might need to justify the choice. And the choice? The choice doesn't need justification because it belongs to me and my partner Nigel. It is our choice, plan and dream.
So , I was unprepared for the why when it came from friends, acquaintances and colleagues in Melbourne. I guess when you dream something it's easy to get so caught up in it, that when it begins to fall into place, you realise that you didn't necessarily bring everyone along the journey with you. But that's okay, because then there were those who didn't ask why, but who said something like, " Brilliant!", " At last!" or "It's about bloody time!" And the ones who, when we got here, said "welcome home".
Those are the keepers. They are the flowers who bring the bees and goodness into your life and help you to flourish. The flowers you pick and weave into your daisy chain and wear close to your heart.
We arrived 8 weeks ago and we are slowly (if not tentatively) setting down our roots. Moving is stressful, but this is such a good move, for both of us. A chance to make a home, challenge ourselves, to reconnect with the earth and our passion for growing and making things.
Unfortunately our big shift was soured by some noxious, corporate weeds who threatened to latch onto me and strangle my dream. They seem to have been unable to take hold. They tried to poison the trust, support, confidence and positivity in my life but failed. This is because they have nothing to latch onto that will help them to thrive. Honesty, goodwill, trust and support are proving to be great weed killers! However, this invasion has left me jarred. I feel more vulnerable than brave. I would have liked a little more brave in reserve to tackle the changes we are facing. A little more brave might help me to step out into our new environment with both arms open. Instead, I am inclined to draw close the ones I love and dig in, and withdraw deeper into myself. And maybe that's what I need right now to recover. Still, I am grateful for the space I am now living in and the opportunity to grow here. This region is filled with brilliant producers, a keen sense of community and inspiring individuals. The brave will come back! I can feel it hiding just under the surface, protected and wary for now, but it is still there.
So, we begin to settle...
The veggie bed is dug. The soil is wet, full of worms and compost and there are new shoots sprouting.
We've brewed three batches of marmalade and cordial from thriving, citrus trees.
A friend has visited from Perth, while doing business in Albury. A surprise treat, reminding us of the importance of that chain.
We have been welcomed by many, beautiful birds and I am rekindling my relationship with my camera.
The earth is still squelchy underfoot, but the mulberry tree is sprouting new leaves and the plum and nectarine trees are starting to blossom.
We've found some new daisies, (or they have found us).
...So what are we going to do?...
The possibilities are only limited by our imaginations and my current lack of brave. For now...we will keep making daisy chains! :)
About this blog
many roads... ...on the journey words follow me, push me forward, and sometimes, overtake me.