Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ A Stitch in Time

Sewing boxOK, I admit it, I’ve been darning. It’s not a fashionable thing to do. But when warm clothes come out of storage as winter hoves into view, that’s when you spot the frayed ends and the tears – and also in my case the moth holes, moths being a plague in South London.

Hence the darning. It’s something I was taught as a child and, to be honest, I enjoy it. It’s satisfying, it saves on money and shopping and it makes me love my clothes all over again.

Yesterday while sitting darning in a spot of sunshine, I was reminded of the story below. But it wasn’t only the darning that brought it to mind. Among my emails had been a message from someone who’d come on a storytelling course of mine ages ago. I recognised her name as it popped up in my Inbox. We’d exchanged emails for a while after the course was over because she’d wanted to tell me how much she was enjoying becoming a storyteller to children in the school where she worked. And hey presto, she’s still doing it! Her message this week lets me know how much the storytelling means to her following some personal troubles she’s suffered. She describes it as ‘healing’.

No wonder today’s story about a sewing box popped into my mind. I’m fairly sure it wasn’t one that we did on the course she attended. But it’s one I’ve often told to Primary children – sometimes with the effect that afterwards I’ve heard that they’ve been sewing story-titles too!

The story: A Stitch in Time

Story-titleLife in the sewing box was a total nightmare. None of the inhabitants would speak to each other. No-one ever dreamed of working together. Needle was sharp with anyone who got in his way. Thread used to get in a tangle. Scissors was invariably snappy.

Then one day Needle got bored. Suddenly he felt like trying something new. Maybe if he did that, he thought, it could lead to him getting out of the sewing box and seeing a bit of the outside world.

‘Would you mind me asking?’ he said to Thread with unusual politeness. ‘Might we try co-operating? Could we try something new that I’ve thought of? Perhaps we could make a picture together?’

A long pause followed. ‘You mean sew a picture?’ said Thread. ‘And maybe use some different colours? Or maybe sew some writing? Yes, why not? Yes, I love the idea.’

For a moment, the whole sewing box went quiet. Everyone seemed to be thinking. Then, suddenly, there was uproar. Everyone was talking. Everyone was wanting to join in – Cloth, Scissors, Thimble, everyone.

And after that, the inhabitants of the sewing box did lots and lots of things together. One thing they made is in my picture. I hope you like it.

Extra info:

1. The story was told to me by an Indian woman who attended another of my storytelling courses. She turned up to one of the sessions armed simply with a needle and a reel of cotton.

2. The sewing box in my top  photo is the one I’ve used as my prop for years whenever I’ve told this story. It was given to me when I was a child by my Uncle Fred (who wasn’t an actual uncle). He used to come over from Australia to visit my Aunty Mali (who wasn’t an actual aunty). My parents used to say he was a suitor of hers.

3. As you can see from the photo, the little sewing box is now very battered. But I still hang on to it. I still love it. Pity I can’t darn it!


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