Down, but not out

I personally like to slow down this time of year. I like to watch more movies, stay away from the stores, try to get outside in the sun as much as I can, get caught up with things that need attention, and get back to my “slow motion” activities (e.g., knitting, mindful stitching and reading). With the shorter days, I think of it as nesting weather. It is also a time when I need something to keep my spirits up. These activities help. What about you? Do you have anything you enjoy doing during the dark winter months?

A couple weeks ago, I had to get extra creative about keeping myself occupied when we experienced a 4-day power outage. A number of years ago, I purchased a treadle sewing machine specifically for a time like this. It was about the same time as the TV series “The Walking Dead” started. My purchase was based on a discussion we had with friends about, in the event of an apocalypse, what skill we have that would be considered vital to our society or local tribe.

Although macabre, it is quite interesting to think about, because most of us are dependent on support to get by. We get our groceries from stores. Heat is created from electricity or gas. Most of us travel by automobile that also requires gas or electricity. The outage reminded me of the discussion we had years ago, because local stores, gas stations, medical care and other emergency services where impacted. We also had no forewarning to prepare and when it first happened we had no idea how long we would go without. Thankfully, most of us did ok … issues primarily were financial-based.

This event reminded me of my sewing machine and the discussions with friends. If this was a long-term outage, what skill do I have to help others? Well, I can sew and knit! But, I can only sew if I have power … or wait … I have pedal power. While we were without, I spent some time setting up my treadle machine and sewing with pedal power. This 100 year old machine purred. The stitches were lovely. And I pieced a small quilt. (You can watch the video on my YouTube Channel) I couldn’t use an iron to press the seams, so I used a bone folder tool to press them down (an old school technique). I felt good that I had this machine, because I still have my apocalyptic super power. We were down, but not out.



  1. Jan says:

    My aunt in southern IL had a treadle sewing machine just like this. She and her husband were farmers and on the very end of the county electric line. They lost power frequently but it never stopped her sewing machine. Like you, I’ve often thought of the ‘what-ifs’. Some people consider crochet, embroidery, and hand sewing ‘old-fashioned’ or out-of-date ‘hobbies’ – I consider them survival techniques. And your experience with the power outage caused by domestic terrorists just proved us right!

    • Nanette Zeller says:

      Cool story about your aunt. I had a male friend once tell me I was “so domestic” [in a condescending voice]. I’ve been thinking about that recently and how my “domestic” skills allow me to be more self-sufficient. I’m glad to see so many younger woman excited about sewing, knitting, etc. It is our super-power!

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