The other day I was working on a piece the required some pins. So I got out my trusty pin cushion and got to work. A smell filled my nose that triggered a remarkable feeling of nostalgia and realized that the scent, so familiar and evocative, was coming from the said pin cushion.
I realized that I have had it since I was fourteen and I am now forty three.
I learned to sew when I was about seven, using thick, blunt darning needles to coax chunk yarn through the canvas that made bright graphic patterns. I still remember the delight I felt when the small repetitive action of sewing resulting in something beautiful.
But it wasn't until a few years later that my craft addiction really took hold. It was in the haberdashery department of the John Lewis department store in Oxford Street, London. I had
been to little craft shops before, but this one was on another level. It seemed huge, with row upon row of sewing notions, fabric, yarn, everything and anything you might need for your needlecraft projects. It was a place of enchantment, and from then on I was in love tapestry and cross stitch.
One Christmas I saw on display there a large wooden sewing box that had cantilevered sections. It was quite expensive and I knew I might not get it as gift. But there it was on Christmas morning. My mum, a sewing enthusiast herself, had furnished it with some essential items, including the pin cushion that is sitting on my table right now, thirty years later. It's clear now that what she actually got me was tree ornament that happened to be scented, hence the Proustian trigger of nostalgia when I used it recently. That pin cushion has followed me from home to University, to my first flat with the man who would become my husband and across the Atlantic when I emigrated from the UK eleven years ago. It's presence in my life reminds me of how long I have spent developing my sewing skills, a period of close to thirty years.