Monday, August 12, 2013

Breaking a long tradition

Mary Mottram, Mary Walker
This pin cushion belonged to my Great Grandmother,
Mary Walker.
Can any one tell me more about it?

It is interesting to see how traits and traditions continue through several generations of family. Do you have occupations, traditions, interests or similarities that have repeated in several generations?

My sister & I in dresses that
our mother made.
The photo may be  black and white
but I remember that my sisters
dress was pink while mine was navy blue

I come from a long line of knitters and sewers on several "branches" of the family. We grew up with home made clothes and jumpers (pullovers for American readers). As a young child I really liked my new dresses and clothes. I can remember going to the shop with Mum and picking out fabrics, ribbons and buttons so she could make a new outfit. By the time I was at High School, I was making my own school uniforms. It was great that I had school dresses that fit me perfectly, compared with many of the girls whose uniforms were too big or too small. However, I always wanted a shop bought school jumper rather than the home knitted jumper.

During War Times, knitting for the
soldiers was encouraged.

My mother knitted by hand but she also had (still has) a knitting machine that had belonged to her father, Allan Scott. The knitting machine was purchased by her father in about 1943 after he returned from Active Service in the Middle East. It seems unusual that a man would purchase a knitting machine. Perhaps the knitting was rehabilitation and something to keep my grandfather busy? Maybe it was also a way for him to give something back to the troops?

1828 Post Office Directory

My 3X Great Grandfather, Adam Bisset Scott, was a
tailor in Leith, Scotland

My mother made the wedding dresses for two of her daughters. Did she get her sewing talent from one of 
her Great Great Grandfathers, who coincidentally 
were both tailors?

Maryborough Hospital Admission Records
Another 3X Great Grandfather, Samuel Drayton, was also a tailor.  However he was from USA.

My Grandmother, Eva Scott, made all the clothes for the "nips". She also knitted. She made some incredible(and well loved)toys for me when I was a child. I wonder what ever happened to them?

My other Great Grandmother, Mabel Pilgrim (nee Geyer), hired/purchased a Wertheim Sewing Machine in 1905.
The cost of £11:15 in 1905 would be equivalent to approximately AUD $1600 today.  
Wertheim Sewing Machine Payment Card

Did you know what this is?

My daughter had no idea.

Today if we have holes in our socks or jumpers,
we tend to throw them out and buy new clothing.

However in times gone past, there was no such
wastage.  Clothing would be repaired by darning.

This darning egg belonged to my mother in law, 
who was a seamstress.  

Somewhere I also have a thimble but can't quite
locate it at present.

Unfortunately neither of my children sew so the tradition of sewers in the family has ceased sadly.  Maybe I will have a granddaughter that I can teach to sew.

Click for more Sepia Saturday posts
So could you pick the connection to this weeks Sepia Saturday picture?
My very first photo is an unusual contraption with wheels, from the past.


  1. Used to have a darning Mushroom where you undid the handle and kept needles in it. Think that got binned a while ago. Mum used to darn my socks when they got holes in, now I just toss them away. I used to sew patches on my jeans as mum got fed up with doing it. Now with the throw away society very little gets repaired.

    1. We really are such a throw away society now. I remember mum patching my jeans too. My grandmother made long shorts for her boys so she didn't have to patch them. I don't know how scarred their knees were though :)

  2. A really enjoyable post and right up my street! As someone who crochets and sews (and who made her own wedding dress) I am totally in tune with the craftspeople in your family. My mum is the knitter in my family and is still making stuff at 92. She woud have got on well with your mother. if you have a minute you may like to pop over to my other blog here, and you'll see what I mean. Mum and I are still collaborating. I've got a darning 'mushroom' by the way.

    1. Good on your mum. My mother makes all her own clothes, including underwear!

      I have "followed" your other blog.

  3. My mom had a darning egg with a handle. I think why we no longer darn socks is that the material of most socks would not feel comfy in our shoes. I love the variety of ephemera you posted! I am now scanning mine dating from the early 1900s. After I scan each, I'm putting them into a scrapbook album. It will take me a long while to accomplish this.
    thank you for sharing!

    1. I have a lot of things photographed and scanned and descriptions as to the origins. If something happens to me, then my kids can look at my book and know what things are and the family significance.

  4. I've seen darning eggs before, but never a skating pin cushion - perhaps it was a one-off?

    1. I probably should try and clean it up. It is very tarnished.

      The wheels are made of wood but still turn. I don't have the courage to pull the tape measure out fully so don't know how long it is. It is a manual wind up (you can just see the little handle underneath it) and I am worried that if I pull it out then it may not wind back up properly.

  5. Haven't seen anything like that egg before although my Mum was quite a sewer and has just given up knitting at 90.

    1. That is a great effort.My Grandmother did very fine cotton crochet. I wanted her to teach me but she refused as she said it ruined her eyes!

  6. A lovely post that reminded me so much of my mother who was a dressmaker and was still sewing in her 80's. The pin cushion of your great grandmother is such a precious heirloom to have = to think she actually touched and used it. My mother had a "mushroom" to use when darning and I suspect the "Egg" is something similar. She used to unpick jumpers when they were worn and then knitted them up for us children. I recall sitting in front of the fire with the wool hanks over my arms as she wound them into balls, ready for knitting.

    1. Great memories to have.

      I am inspired to darn my husband's holey socks now. I hope I remember how!

  7. A thoroughly enjoyable post and an inventive link to Sepia Saturday. only one of my daughters knows how to sew and I rarely sew these days

    1. The last thing that I made was curtains, 10 years ago! I keep saying "when I retire"! I am going to be very busy when I retire!

  8. knitting, sewing and tailoring runs through your family history like a thread. And do I remember darning? Oh yes, and the feel of your toe up against those roughly darned holes in your socks.

    1. Very creative Alan. Wish I had thought of something along that 'thread' for my opening comment.

  9. You got me with that darning egg!!
    I had seen something of the kind before,
    round at the tip,
    but with some sort of handle to it.

    1. Yes what you had seen was the darning mushrooms. This egg is different. Also because it has the metal to protect the egg against the needle. Looks like there were a few misses by the paint!

  10. Very pleased to say that my daughter pulled out the sewing machines during the past week and made several lined pencil cases with zips. An excellent effort for a beginner. She seems to be a natural so think we need to encourage her :)