Tonight I spent some time with two ancient sewing baskets. I took advantage of my quiet Sunday evening to finally (it only took me six months) fix the hem on what had been a favorite pair of black pants, repair a tiny hole in a thriftstore sweater and make shorter a pair of brown pants whose cuffs ended four inches beyond my feet. I sat on the couch with a pile of clothing in my lap and the two sewing baskets between my feet. I don’t know where they came from, they have been in my apartment since I can remember. I can see in my mind my mother pulling them off the top shelf of the closet in the den when we would come to visit in the summers, to fix shorts, ripped while playing dodgeball at daycamp.
My grandmother did not sew, but my grandfather often replaced buttons and mended holes in his own clothes. I assume that these baskets came with him when he moved into the apartment in the early 70’s, along with his electric shoe polisher and old wooden tool box. I imagine that they belonged to his first wife, a woman who died 25 years before I was born, and I feel a certain kinship with her, as I rummage around the bottom of the basket, looking for just the right color grey thread. I appreciate the hooks and eyes that she bought in the late forties on sale for 35 cents and the carefully arranged needles, pushed through black felt.
After I finish the last pair of pants, I gently replace the needles and spools of thread, and put the baskets away, for another day.