Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thimbles, my darlings

I have been mentally counting how many times I have been to England.  Once with Trubey and her parents (on the QEII, thank you very much), once with Arthur for our belated honeymoon, twice with Trubey and once by myself.  As an aside, Trubey's daddy thought I should see Europe so he started planning a trip in the late 1980s for all of us to go to Paris and Italy and then take a ship home to Miami.  But then the Achille Laure happened.  So he decided that if the Brits could handle the IRA, we could sail on a British ship.  That's how I managed to sail both ways across the Atlantic on the QEII.  In fact, our voyage home was  during "the perfect storm".  The captain refused to change course until 2am and I don't think there was an intact teacup on board, not to mention "my" broken poker machine (and lots of seasick passengers!).  Thank you, Bill Walker.  

The reason for all my thinking and counting is:  my thimble collection.  I only have size 7 thimbles.  I prefer sterling.  Hence, the reference to England.  Every time I have gone to England I have come home with several more thimbles for my collection.  About 10 years ago, Trubey and I were in London for two weeks.  Every day we went to a different street market.  At the end of 10 days, the vendors thought we were in the business!  They recognized us--and we recognized them!  I learned how to bargain. 

I have a lucite case for some of them.  But my collection seems to have expanded beyond its capacities.  It even includes a seal (or walrus) fur one from Alaska that Trubey's mother brought me from their trip there.

 These are some of the charmers I managed to pick up at those markets.  I tried to photograph some of them individually, but my camera skills weren't up to the task.  They were just shiny blurs.  I had forgotten some of their idiosyncracies--like the one the dealer had labeled on the outside "Made in Holland" and the American-made Dorcas style one that I had left the 1 pound price tag inside.  They both were obviously not up to snuff.  The usual price on the street was from 7 to 20 pounds depending on age more than condition.  One of these has multiple holes in the sides, the dealer told me "it's Edwardian".  And another that I tried to photograph had striations on the side that the needle had broken through.  It was dated 1878.  I really should study the date markings so I can tell how old these are.  That is something for another day.

 I prefer utility to design so don't have many commemorative thimbles.  You can tell from this photo that dusting isn't one of my strong points!

This is the thimble I use at home.  It is almost always resting on the coffee table ready to be pressed into action.  I have another favorite that I keep on the stitching table at the shop--its photograph was just a blur, alas.

Ironically, I have very few requests for thimbles.  I have some inexpensive ones for sale.  People tend to recoil when told a sterling thimble is worth over $50. 


  1. This is a sincere question, Mary Agnes--why do you use a thimble? A friend of mine, now 96, once remarked she couldn't understand how I could stitch without a thimble. The thought had never occurred to me.

  2. Anne, if you're working on a frame a thimble isn't necessary. You don't need to "push" the needle. However, when stitching "in hand", sometimes it takes some force to insert the stitch. This is especially true with 14mesh canvas and Paternayan wool. That is one reason so many designers and shops switched to 13mesh. Thanks for the question--I'll do a blog entry sometime this next week showing the project that caused me to start using a thimble.

  3. Hello, my name is Mary, I am collectoor thimble, too, I live in Vero Beach, I will like talk with you about thimbles