Tuesday 25 August 2015

Good Eggs

We have a lot of ‘good eggs’ in our community. Not surprisingly, a few have even made it into our collection.

No, we haven’t catalogued our neighbours (nor are we storing fresh eggs in the archives). Our eggs are darning eggs. And we think they are pretty darned special!

Darning eggs are a handy little tool used to repair holes in socks, stockings or other ‘shaped’ fabric that gets torn or worn out. Their rounded shape would be slipped into the sock, providing a smooth surface that made it easy to stitch a neat repair. Some darning ‘eggs’ were actually shaped like mushrooms or gourds, but most in our collection are the classic egg shape. The range of materials for our eggs is impressive; the majority are wooden (even in these samples, some are heavily embellished with carving), but we also have eggs constructed of gold, one with a silver handle, and a mother-of-pearl beauty composed from sea shells.

As part of a girl’s stitching instruction, she would learn how to darn the holes in the family’s clothing. Fabric was expensive and clothes were time consuming to create, so being able to repair an item was essential – there were no quick trips to Walmart to buy a new shirt if something got torn. With darning egg in hand, the sewer would learn to carefully mend tears and worn spots, making a piece look like new once more.

Talk about a good egg.

It was not enough that these little gizmos could perform such a help with darning; they also were used as containers for storing sewing supplies. The wooden egg pictured here screws together through the middle; inside it can hold a needle and a thimble, as well as a small amount of thread.

This gold egg is considerably smaller but still opens to reveal a tiny storage area inside. It likely only held a fine darning needle and a bit of thread as this diminutive egg was much too small for darning workday socks – it was probably used instead to darn the fingers of lady’s gloves. It also could be worn as pendant on a necklace – functional art like the sewing scissors we displayed in an earlier blog post.

Our collection of darning eggs numbers eight pieces, illustrating in their design and materials the dramatic range of styles, from functional to fabulous, employed by area women in their everyday household tasks.

We are just shy of the requisite dozen – but those we have are all Good Eggs.

1 comment:

  1. Its interesting that these eggs are still used! A great variety at Kings County Museum. I wonder how many visitors would know what their use is? Great post as usual.