Sewing 'n' Patterns 'n' Needles 'n' Such

My mother was not a sewist , as it amused her to call people who sewed. She could do it, I guess, because she smocked a couple of dresses when I was little, but she hated it; it was always father who was down in the basement (which we never quite learned to call the recreation room ), pumping the old Singer to mend a torn sheet. I must remember to tell my daughter one of those facts of life: When a sheet wore out, splitting in the center as they did, you never threw it out; you continued splitting it entirely in two and then sewed the two side edges together in the middle-- voila! Three more years of sheet use.

I am not a sewist either; I hate it. I did make one dress for my infant daughter; I did sew ladybugs on felt shoes she never wore. True, a nightgown I produced one night, cutting without pattern and sewing without knowledge, became a hilarious annual tradition for a few years. Nevertheless, I do not understand sewing--or why anyone wants to sew--and I loathe all those little tiddley bits that go with sewing.

The Aardvark Territorial Enterprise, P.O. Box 2449, Livermore, Calif. 94550, came in the mail from friend Iris Bell, who lives in New York and does love all those tiddley little bits.

It is ridiculous, but I read every word (well, every third word maybe), wondering what in the world everyone is going to do with all those threads and beads and tassels and hearts and ribbons and bits of lace and buttons and dolls and . . . well, the thing is, the whole little newspaper is put out by one person or one family or a bunch of friends; the last issue lists everyone as vice president, including Debbie Casteel (assistant editor and vice president of the rest), Ann Ray (vice president of her daughter's cookies) and Bandit (presumably a cat who is vice president of bad behavior).

It all sounds too cute, and it is, but on the other hand there are fascinating things about it. Ardent subscribers are told of a needleworker's move to Florida, shown a photograph of a wall hanging "given to me for Christmas," but it's not clear (to me, all the other readers know) who me is--perhaps Jerry Zarbaugh, listed as editor and president of most things. Also on the front page, "all you Hawaiian readers" are asked to write to Debbie to "tell me everything I need to know to plan the perfect very first trip to Hawaii."

The whole thing reminds me of the L. L. Bean catalogue in its infancy, when L. L. Bean himself was raving over the different wading boots he recommended for log-sunk streams or shallow rivers.

Not only materials but all kinds of sewing (or is it stitchery? ) books are offered: Here's Le Tende, all in Italian but "diagrams are so clear" you don't need to know Italian to start stitching away. Another on Seminole Patchwork. Quilting books (I have never understood how anyone could settle down to make a whole quilt). Design books, dressmaking, decorating ones--ye gods, here are 4 1/2-inch lace carp to sew on things.

Then we have greeting cards, computer pattern disks, glass rings--but it's not the things for sale that make me read the Aardvark, but the way it's written. It's funny and friendly and unassuming (except it assumes you know who Jim and Judy and Marie are).

And then there's Barbara (in what--the agony column?), who wants to know how to make a fishtail net scarf, and Patricia, who's looking for a book, "Weaving With Antique Fur." All kinds of needles, including "twin double needles" good for pin-tucking, embroidery and borders--"Let us know what you do with them."

By all means let them know what you do with them, but don't tell me; I don't want to know.

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