When I started knitting seriously, I discovered that my grandmother, Irene, had owned a darning egg. My mother and her sisters grew up on a farm, and Mom vividly recalled her mother sitting in the evenings on the farmhouse, diligently darning socks using the wooden darner.
My aunt Kathy apparently was given the darning egg when my grandmother died in 1989, and used it in her country-eque decorated homes all over the world. So for a year I patiently hinted and pondered and “mentioned” to my aunts how much I’d like to have Grandma’s darning egg someday. Imagine my surprise when yesterday, an unknown package arrived in the mail for me. It was the darning egg from Aunt Kathy! She had decided to surprise me, instead of tormenting me with the idea of getting it one day if I was nice to her (we are all about blackmail on mom’s side of the family).
This darning “egg” is actually not egg-shaped at all. It is, in fact, a foot-form wooden darner, a design that was patented in Nov. 1907 and was commonly used in the early to mid-20th century. It has the words “FOOT-FORM” stamped across its top, and you can clearly see how much it was used by the tiny scrapes in the wood. I’m glad to see that these antique foot form “eggs” are often found on eBay for rather affordable prices, so that anyone, if they like, can own a little piece of history.
Grandma married my grandfather, Pap-Pap, in 1945, and they left the farm life and moved to the “city” in 1957, when my mother, the middle child, was 9. They bought their first house for $3,000 and were thrilled to have indoor plumbing. In this photo, from 1950, my mother is the one simultaneously holding her naked dolly and her bladder, while my Aunt Kathy is the one in bunting in my grandmother’s arms. I do love the turned down cuffs of Grandma’s white bobby socks in this image. While Grandma only lived on the farm for 12 years, I’m sure that she used this wooden darner for many more years of her life. I’ll treasure it always.
Wow. What a wonderful family treasure! And it looks like your hinting paid off 🙂
Beautiful story! 🙂
I’ve never seen one quite like that – I have several of the more common mushroom shaped ones: my mum’s plain wooden one, one with a burned poker work design, a 1950ish pale blue plastic one and one that looks a bit like a red bakelite domed pill box that unscrews and the ‘stalk’ of the mushroom is inside, allowing it to be screwed into a little socket thingie. Sort of a travelling sewing kit I suppose.
What an interesting object. Thanks for sharing the story.
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Oh my goodness! I love your story, especially the blackmail part🙂I have had this tool in a box for years and never knew what it was. I bought it at a tag sale because I loved the shape and patina. I have just taken up visible mending and now I need to dig it out and use it. Thank you for educating me💙