Our Local Artisan Crafting Notionsby Jessika Zontini
Here at Pindrop Shop we strive to bring you the finest in crafting supplies, and when they are locally handcrafted by a talented artisan, all the better! Today we wanted to highlight one of our favorite contributors to the shop, John Quimby. Quimby, now retired, worked as a forester, and is now a woodworker with a passion for creating beautiful things for the world to enjoy.
I met Quimby in the shop one day with his wife Barbara Dewey, a talented seamstress and knitter. After she purchased some yarn and I offered to wind it into a cake on my swift, he was fascinated with the device (aren't we all?). He also took interest in my wooden tailor's clapper on my ironing board.
They returned several times and as I got to know them I found them to be a remarkably interesting couple. Both of them have accomplished great things and are so passionately creative in their crafts. A few weeks later, Quimby returned with a box full of something. He set it on my table, and inside were several beautiful handmade tailor's clappers! Each one had so much character. Some had bark still intact, they each were shaped differently, and some had grooves for the fingers. I was so delighted. This was just the beginning of the wonderful crafting supplies Quimby would make for us!
Not only were they beautiful and handmade, they also had a story... Quimby had a tree on his property that he loved dearly. The tree was a Bitternut Hickory, and was very special to him. Sadly, one day, it was demanded that the tree be cut down so an oil pipeline could be installed. Quimby was devastated, but agreed to take it down, and kept the precious lumber. Some of that Bitternut Hickory wood was used to make these tailor's clappers. Each one is filled with love and a story, and the tree's essence can carry on to help people in their creative endeavors.
Now let's back up and explain what some of those things are if you aren't familiar. What is a tailor's clapper anyway? A tailor's clapper is an old-fashioned, simple yet effective tool for ironing. It is a merely an unfinished block of hardwood that helps you achieve perfectly pressed seams in your sewing project. To use a clapper, you first iron the seam you're working on. Then, after you lift the iron from the fabric, you immediately put the clapper down in the same spot, and push with some light pressure. The unfinished hardwood will absorb the heat and moisture that the iron left in the fabric, resulting in an ultra-crisp seam. These are so handy for piecing quilt blocks, but I use mine for garment sewing and just about everything else. You'll never see me ironing without one! Now we have a great selection of different clappers by Quimby. The newest ones he made feature an antique wooden thread spool for the handle.
What is a swift? Yarn typically comes in the form of a hank, which is basically like a ring of yarn that is twisted up until the time of purchase. Traditionally after buying yarn in this form, you would have to wind it in to a ball by hand. This takes some time, and it's good if you have someone to help hold the ring of yarn up for you as you wind it into a ball. The swift and ball winder is a solution to that problem. When yarn is purchased at Pindrop, I offer to wind for the customer to save them the time. Swifts come in different forms, but the one I use in the shop is an umbrella-style swift. I place the hank of yarn around the swift, adjust it the swift to fit the hank snugly, and then put the tail of the yarn into the groove on the ball winder. As I crank the handle, the yarn is wound into what's called a cake, in a matter of minutes. The cake of yarn can then be used from the outer strand that is wrapping around the outside, or the inner strand that comes from the center of the cake.
I use the umbrella-style swift in the shop, but there is also an Amish peg-style swift, that consists of four long wooden rods with pegs on the ends. These rods can be adjusted to fit the hank of yarn, and then function in the same way as the umbrella-style to wind the yarn into a cake, in conjuction with the ball winder. After much observation and fascination with both styles of swift, Quimby returned to the shop one day with several handmade peg-style swifts! We tried them out and they worked like a charm.
Click here to see a video of the swift in action!
Clappers and swifts are just a few of the things our local woodworker has to offer the crafting community. He has also made yarn boxes, sock blockers, drop spindles, cable needles from some very rare and exotic woods, and a set of interchangeable crochet hooks with gorgeous wooden handles, full of character.
I love that his craft can be a part of our craft, and firmly believe that your notions should be just as beautiful as the project you're making. When you work with natural fibers that have been hand dyed, or fabric from an inspired artist's illustration, why not let every tool that contributes to your creation be special in its own right? After all, isn't the whole purpose of creating to savor each stitch?