I didn't know how much pleasure I would get out of that machine over the next fifteen years. My husband has never understood my itch to make clothing. Sewing rompers, knitting socks -- he thinks it's a little like digging a well in your backyard and carrying the water inside even though the municipal water is perfectly safe and there for the pouring. It strikes some Proverbs 31 chord in me, though. It reminds me of the women in other parts of the world who have made most of the clothes I wear, out of necessity and not out of spare-time privilege. It draws on my little store of hard-won knowledge, ferreted out through hours of deciphering pattern-speak -- hours in which an armhole facing became a series of sensible steps and not a mystery akin to transmission rebuilding.
These days making clothing is an underappreciated art. When I pin a dart or turn a sock heel I wonder about the women who first figured those things out, the tricks for accommodating their loved ones' angles and curves. The clothes we make for our children are born of our hands' skill and our hearts' tenderness. "Here," they say, "it's a tough world out there. Here is something to keep you comfortable, protected." No matter how soft the fabric, they look to me like armor.