Tools of the Trade (and farewell to a legend)

I watched the Oscars last weekend and, as always, I was so touched by the "In Memoriam" segment. I must admit I keep myself pretty informed about the whos and whats of pop culture, but I'm always shocked during the memoriam presentation about one or two of the people we've lost.

I was reading the new issue of PieceWork and I experienced the same feeling. Editor Jeane Hutchins wrote in her "Notions" column about the passing of Erica Wilson.

Dog sewing bird, from the collection of the Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, New Jersey. (Photograph copyright the Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, New Jersey)


Erica Wilson's Embroidery Book (1973) was always front and center on the bookshelf at our house. My mom calls it her Bible, and when she moved and lost it somehow, the search was on.

I got her a couple of embroidery dictionaries that she was very thankful for, but I could tell they weren't appropriate replacement of the Embroidery Book, as if it could be replaced. Then one day I got a voicemail message that simply said, "I found one!" I wasn't sure what Mom was talking about, but when I called her back her enthusiasm made perfect sense.

The Embroidery Book graces my mom's bookshelf again, and all is right in the crafting world.

I want one!

PieceWork always entertains and inspires me, but I really had a great time with the March.April 2012 issue.

It features several articles about tools of the needlework trade, one of which I'd never seen before. It's called a "sewing bird" and Erin Gilday's article about the Victorian sewing tools intrigued me. They clamped to the edge of a table and they have clips to hold fabric taut. These tools weren't limited to bird shapes, either; see the dog sewing bird at left. I have a dog collection that's full of fun items (my favorite is a spaniel-shaped whiskey bottle) and this would fit in perfectly!

Some more tools that really caught my eye were sent in by PieceWork readers.

First off is the Forget-Me-Not Knitter's Computer. Its functions include a 1-inch opening for checking gauge as well as counters for different knitting operations, including repeats, increases, decreases, and rows. There's also a ruler across the top. Why did they stop making this? I challenge Clover or Susan Bates (or anyone, really) to resurrect it!

Forget-Me-Not Knitter's Computer, from the collection of Willa Pettygrove. (Photograph courtesy of Willa Pettygrove.)

And then there's a clear holder for Boye double-pointed needles, which assures the customer that they are "non-inflammable." I wonder what happened to make that disclaimer necessary. (And I hope no one was hurt!)

Boye needle case, from the collection of Willa Pettygrove. (Photograph courtesy of Willa Pettygrove.)
The Bickford Family Knitting Machine, from the collection of Karen Hooton. (Courtesy of Karen Hooten)

And finally, the Bickford Family Knitting Machine, at left. These amazing sock knitting machines, some dating back to the 1800s, are still in use today. My friend Nancy just got one and I'm jealous . . . I mean happy for her!

Rumor has it this little machine can crank out a sock in a half-hour. Can you imagine? I'll bet there's a bit of a learning curve, but it sounds like it's worth it for perhaps the best sock yarn stash-buster ever!

Those are just a few of the tools celebrated in this issue of PieceWork. Subscribe today so you don't miss anymore of the fascinating features to come! (And when you subscribe, you'll get a free lace knitting eBook!)


P.S. Do you have any "tool stories" to share? Please do so in the comments below.

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