Treadles and Stick-Shifts

Good morning!  It’s 6:30 in the morning at my house, and everyone is sleeping.  Except for me.   As usual, I’m thinking.   I liked what I was thinking about so much that I rushed out of bed to write a post about it.  It couldn’t wait.

Let’s talk about the word ”never.”

Never is one of those bite-you-in-the-behind words that I shouldn’t be using.  But, you know what? I think I’m going to use it this morning, and I do so confidently!  I will never own an automatic car or an electric sewing machine.

Let me tell you why.

Treadle sewing machines are just like stick-shift cars.  They are a lost art.  I won’t be without either one unless I’m dead or have legs/knees/ankles that are too arthritic to operate my clutch, brake, and gas pedals!

So much of our lives have become automated.  For Heaven’s sake, my new iPhone would like me to talk to it about who I want to call or text rather than type it in!  I think I could almost use the thing without knowing how to read! But I like reading and having to do things for myself, thank you very much!

I had been driving stick-shift cars for years when my mother-in-law first mentioned how she thought it might be a good idea for me to start sewing, that I might really enjoy it.

I have always loved the touchiness of the car and the feel of the road when I would down-shift or up-shift.  I like the fact that I’m in control and all movement belongs to me.  Everything in a stick is intention followed through.  I love being an active participant in my travel, wherever that may be.

I drove my first automatic at 16. (I guess we were kind of hill-billy, and I drove all the time starting at 14 with my permit, so I had a couple years of experience on sticks prior to this.)  I remember feeling completely bored and unenthused about my lack of participation in the car’s operation.   There was no thrill at all.  It was just one foot going back and forth, and I only selected the gear I needed when I first started the car.  One gear (drive) for an entire trip?  Who ever thought this could be fun?!

Sewing was a little different for me.  I had years of manual-transmission driving behind my belt when I first bought a sewing machine.  But I had never operated a sewing machine before this.  Like anyone diving enthusiastically into a new hobby, I thought I should get something with all the bells and whistles, of course!  So I bought a very nice (to most people!) brand-new Singer and excitedly set it up.

There were so many options and buttons on this thing that I thought I might as well be an airplane pilot to get what was going on.  I think my brain was seizing up a little bit!

And then I unpacked the foot pedal.  That was the end of that.  All the memories of that first ride in an automatic came flooding back.  I knew I would need to be more of a participant in what I was doing, or I would just end up bored.  So the machine got returned, and I got on Craig’s List to find the Iron Lady (or Ladies, as it turned out) of my dreams!  (Iron Lady is a term used by treadle-lovers to describe their beloved treadles. And, please, stop laughing; there are groups of people that are into this stuff!)

This random deep thinking of mine may need some decoding, so I will do my best here.  I guess it’s, yet again, another issue of time.  We have so little of it to use and so much to do with it.   Sitting in traffic takes a lot of time.  Creating things from your mind and your heart takes a lot of time.   But if you’re fully involved in the process of both, it takes on a different light.  Both tasks become more meaningful.

When I am sitting in traffic, I’m not bored.  I’m engaged.  I have to shift gears.  I use both my feet.  I listen for my transmission’s powerband to keep it in the ”happy” zone.

It’s the same thing with sewing.  When I treadle, I feel the stitches getting too tight; I have to slow down to go around my corners.  I’m engaged again.

I want to live as much of my life being engaged as possible, no matter what it is that I’m doing.

As humans, we are constantly striving to enhance the experience and the ease of everything we do.  Perhaps somewhere along the way in our quest for the ultimate modern civilization, we have surpassed the perfect balance between mind/body participation and automation.

So, Random Stranger, if I see you on the road at a light and notice that you’re driving a manual, too, you will understand my beaming smile!

Wishing you all a fabulous, early winter day today!

And, since we are just past Thanksgiving, I would like to say thank you to my awesome, crafty mother-in-law for throwing me another spark to light my creative fire!  Your suggestions have been invaluable to the flow and confidence of my creativity! xoxo


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