The Piece of String


Picture of key on bentwood case for vintage Singer sewing machineOne of things about vintage Singer sewing machines which fascinates Elsie and me is The Piece of String.

You can pretty much guarantee that if the owner of an old machine which I’m thinking of buying says yes, there is a key for the case, then that key will be tied on a bit of string just like in the picture.  It might be thin string or it might be thick string, but it’s always string.   And the ends of it have always been neatly cut off after it was knotted.

And what, you might quite reasonably ask, is so remarkable about that?  Well, nothing really – except could you lay your hands on a bit of string right now if you had an urgent need of it?

If I look out my window, I can see part of a “select gated development” of a dozen new houses 200 yards or so away.  We call it The Ghetto.  Every one of those houses seems to be occupied by frighteningly normal families who each run at least two new cars, one of which is a Chelsea tractor, and it’s a fair bet that in a few weeks’ time, all the Daddies will be out on Sunday morning playing with their new leaf blowers.   I reckon they’re the sort of people who use the word “lifestyle” in everyday conversation.

If you look through their kitchen windows past the bijou pots of half-dead herbs, you’re bound to see machinery and gadgetry and things for every conceivable task.  Likewise their garages are doubtless full of power tools for everything.  But do they have string about the house?

I doubt it.  Naturally Elsie and I have string, but we’re like that.  We have natural string, unnatural string, garden twine, binder twine in a choice of colours – heck, we have parachute cord and we even have hi-viz fluorescent yellow terylene string.  I’ve no idea why we have that hi-viz stuff or where it came from, but my point is simply that we do have string about the premises.  Like every household once had, because at one time people saved useful-looking bits of string.

When did people stop saving bits of string?


3 responses

  1. Ah, the Granny Jar! I was once given one as a going away present, by some coworkers. It was a canning jar with some of those bread clips, coiled string, a few clothes pins and some other odds and ends inside. I loved it!

  2. Hmmm … stringball eh? We’re more an “old glass jar full of bits of string” household 😉

  3. Aw, so sweet! I saw this photo and immediately thought of my grandmother, who tied everything with string. She kept a string ball in the cupboard that she would tie onto or use from, accordingly. I have one, myself 🙂