A common thread—my grandmother’s sewing box

August 17 | 2020

Like my new memoir, The Smallest Objective, my grandmother’s sewing box harbours many secrets. At first glance, the box and its contents appear ordinary: “The box in most ways aspires to nothing more than everyday life: the fraying threads, the small repairs, the effort to keep things, if not new, at least viable.” Nonetheless, over the centuries girls and women have safeguarded mementos in their sewing bags and boxes in the form of poems, love letters, or cherished pictures. My grandmother Rose’s sewing box, with its wicker handle and floral decal, likely dates from the 1930s. Beneath the sharps, yarn darners, spools of thread, thimbles, hooks and eyes is hidden a mechanism, covered in red silk. Revealed is “a musical sewing box, wound from the underside to produce a halting, delicately shaded tune. …”