I took this picture of my sewing machine at about 4 a.m. after I finally stopped quilting for the night and decided to go to bed. She looked so pretty shining her light into the inky black night that I had to take her portrait.
This thing is old. As far as machines go she is ancient. Her serial number was released to the manufacturer in 1952 so that makes her about 60. So 60 years ago hands manufactured her, shipped her and then someone’s hands picked her out, handed over money and took her home. Maybe those hands sewed curtains, pillows, wedding dresses, quilts, baby dresses, slippers. I have no idea how many sets of hands have pulled thread through the hooks and tension gauge and through the eye of the needle. I don’t know how many times someone has said “God dammit!” to her because of her insanely finicky tension. I don’t know how long she might have sat forgotten and neglected in the corner of a bedroom before finally being shuffled off to the thrift store.
But I do clearly remember finding her in the thrift store for $15.50. I remember cleaning her up and oiling her and hearing the faintly click clacky sound of the gears fall smoothly into motion for the first time. My hands made curtains, pillows, quilts, baby dresses, slippers. I said “God dammit!” to her because of her finicky tension. I have asked her to not be such a bitch when I notice a skipped stitch. I have wondered if wisdom has gathered in the notches and places where her gloss has been worn away by use. If so I hope she grants me some of that wisdom as she and I sit together late into the night and make art.