There's been a little red button knocking around my desk for - what, 6 months? I know where it belongs but can I be bothered to reunite it with its buttonhole? Can I heck. It's making me feel guilty the more I think about it. I imagine it bleating at me now: 'Sew me on, sew me on...'But who mends any more? A 'stitch in time' for something special, much loved or even (an old-fashioned phrase coming up...) serviceable. Alan uses old tee- shirts for polishing stuff in his shed but otherwise I'm afraid the likelihood is that the holey, split or worn item is binned. Should I be ashamed to admit that in the small mountain kingdom of Trelystan darning has died out?
Well, contrary to what the above portrait of idleness might suggest - and surprising even myself - I have this evening put a restorative stitch or two into H's jacket. (It is Mother's Day after all and no mother likes to see her son coming adrift at the seams.) Should be good for another season or two now.
I'm not exactly a stranger to the sewing box. I look at it occasionally, confident that should the need arise I shall find needles and thread, scissors and pins. Yep, they're all there. There's a length of elastic or two, scraps of lace and some pretty bits of ribbon rescued or left over from some project or other as well. A handful of buttons have migrated to the bottom of the box - quite a miscellany - and probably utterly useless now their original garments are long gone.
On close examination its contents always come as something of a surprise. Just why did I keep that ghastly yellow zip? That piece of ribbon on too short to tie into even the smallest bow? It satisfies my sense of history too - there are spools of thread which date back to my early married life, spools of thread which sewed seams in long departed curtains, cushions and unlikely frocks. An ancient reel of brown cotton recalls the duvet cover I made in 1975. How hip and trendy that was, back in the day.
I seem to have accumulated quite a collection of yellows and greens - why, I wonder? I've never worn yellow or green and I can only recall ever sewing one length of yellow fabric to make a tablecloth. There is a rich seam of unlikely pinks, reds and mauves too. The pink on the left - of which there is very little left - sewed the last-but-one set of curtains in the spare room of our previous house. The deep plum, 2 spools along, took up the hem of a gorgeous velvet dress I wore one Christmas and one red......ahem....was the unused remains of an abandoned fancy dress project which we will gloss over..But why it that, in all probability if I needed to mend something tomorrow I would have to go out and buy a reel of colour specially? Luckily these days the wonderful Annie takes care of my turning-ups, letting outs and takings in and she is queen of the colourful cottons - her little work room is a corncopia of all things sewing and craft related.
Back in my sewing box there are needles in abundance - darning, embroidery, tapestry and a savage looking jobbie used for pricking out lace patterns. Pretty glass beads nestle in a folded length of broderie anglaise. It dawns on me that this box is a reliquary of past enthusiasms too.
What it lacks though - and will never therefore be a proper sewing box in the way my mother's was - are the bits and pieces which were necessities in the days when mending wasn't an option.
I am lacking:
Well, a proper sewing basket for a start - generally woven wicker and lined with padded silk. Failing that an old biscuit tin.Am I bovvered? Of course I am. I like to do things properly.
The darning 'mushroom' and accompanying darning wool to be persuaded through big eyed blunt nosed needles.
A proper pin cushion.
Shirring elastic. Who shirrs?
Safety pins. Big and steely and small and brass. Quite cute the little fellas.
Knicker elastic by the card-ful and probably in a disgusting shade of 'flesh' pink. Is it still possible to buy knicker elastic?
A replacement pyjama cord. Is it still possible to buy pjs with cords?
Bra straps and replacement suspenders with rubbery buttons; also 'flesh' pink and gross.
Buttons, hooks and eyes and press-studs, patches for elbows, bias binding.....
And Cash's name tapes by the yard and Cash's name tapes unpicked from some ancient school sock, ready to be prudently re-used. God forbid.