The purpose of the Annisquam Sewing Circle, a standing committee of the Annisquam Village Hall Association, is to promote the furtherance of friendship and congeniality and the performance of acts of benevolence.
The Annisquam Sewing Circle has been reaching out to the community since its inception. Bags of groceries were left on the doorsteps of families in need. Hats and mittens were knit for soldiers during the Civil War and nippers for the Gloucester fishermen. Items were made for the ASC Christmas Fair which included little men out of toothpicks and raisins for children to buy as gifts for family and friends. The money raised went back to the community.
Times have changed but the needs of the community remain the same. The funds raised by the ASC are donated to Cape Ann Community organizations like Wellspring, Open Door, Backyard Growers, and Animal Aid as well as scholarships for Gloucester High School graduating seniors who are going on to college or other post-graduate training.
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Earlier members of the Annisquam Sewing Circle knit nippers like this pair.
Fishermen working trawl lines in the 19th century often suffered cuts and rope burns on their hands. They typically wore mittens or gloves to protect themselves when hauling the long lines aboard and removing the fish. These sturdy but soft rings, called nippers, are knitted of woolen yarn and stuffed with more wool. They would have fit around a fisherman’s palms, protecting his hands while his fingers remained free for tasks requiring dexterity.
These nippers were probably made in Gloucester, Mass., for use by local fishermen working on offshore schooners. The shallow, fertile banks stretching from Georges Bank east of Nantucket to the Grand Bank off Newfoundland, Canada, were prime fishing areas for Gloucestermen. Cod, haddock, and halibut were the principal species caught by fishermen working aboard schooners in these waters in the late 19th century.
These nippers were among the fishermen’s clothing, tools, and apparatus featured by the United States in the 1883 International Fisheries Exhibition in London.
7th Century A.D. – The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to date back to 7th century Persia A.D. (now Iran), one of the first countries to cultivate sugar (luxurious cakes and pastries in large and small versions were well known in the Persian empire). According to historians, sugar originated either in the lowlands of Bengal or elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Sugar spread to Persia and then to the Eastern Mediterranean. With the Muslim invasion of Spain, then the Crusades and the developing spice trade, the cooking techniques and ingredients of Arabia spread into Northern Europe.
Cookies as we know them in America were originally brought to the United States by our English, Scottish, and Dutch immigrants. Earlier names for cookies such as Snickerdoodles and Cry Babies originated with the New England states. Even with its early history, cookies did not become popular until about a hundred years ago.
‘A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.’ Coco Chanel
Britain is bracing itself for the second lockdown starting this Thursday, moods are varied. This morning I checked in with our local baker, who assured me that they were going to try and stay open this time around, and then I got a message from a dear friend. She said, I finally got my sewing machine out, I am going to get back into sewing with this lockdown, and you should draw! (I am an illustrator and yet I haven’t drawn properly in months, which inevitably has made me question if I am, in fact, still allowed to call myself an artist. Quite a load to carry for a creative lacking creativity.) Post-Covid has stripped me bare to mothering my children and paying the bills, with occasional dips in the cold British seas to stay sanely positive about everything that is happening to us.
For a lot of creatives, their work is the essence of their identity so we can probably agree that it is absolutely paramount to find the time and space to create.
Nayila reminds us that learning new skills and implementing them into new projects is a wonderful way to grow the self and feel replenished. Sarah has written a whole article on the “Doldrums of Creativity”. She observes: ‘it’s not that I don’t have ideas, it’s that I don’t have faith in my ideas. It’s not that ideas aren’t flowing, it’s that in some ways I’m holding myself back from creating them.’ Morgann shares her own story on how to pursue a creative life through sewing. Today I wish you to sit down at your sewing table and make something quite wonderful however small or challenging. If you are a bit like me, struggling to find your creative mojo and with it your own self and identity, the best thing to do is just sew, (or draw in my case).
Many small amounts accumulate to make a large amount.
What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Many a little makes a mickle’?
A mickle, or as they prefer it in Scotland, a muckle, means ‘great or large in size’. Apart from ‘many a little (or pickle) makes a mickle’ the words only now remain in use in UK place-names, like Muckle Flugga in Shetland (which amply lives up to its translated name of ‘large, steep-sided island’) and Mickleover in Derbyshire (listed in the Domesday Book as Magna Oufra – ‘large village on the hill’). ‘Over’ and ‘upper’ are very common prefixes in English place-names, along with their opposites ‘under’, ‘lower’, ‘nether’ or ‘little’. Examples of these are the Cotswold villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter, and the Hampshire villages of Over and Nether Wallop. The word ‘much’ derives from the Old English ‘mickle’ and has now almost entirely replaced it. ‘Much’ is also used in place-names like Much Wenlock, Shropshire (there’s also a Little Wenlock, of course).
The proverbial phrase ‘many a little makes a mickle’ has now itself been largely superseded by the 18th century ‘look after the pennies (originally, ‘take care of the pence’), and the pounds will look after (‘take care of’) themselves’.