Treadle Cat Open for Business

You don’t realize how ignorant you are until you stoop to asking Google.

Although, I suppose I can only speak for myself.

I’m the sort of person who throws the directions aside and figures out how something works by trial and error.

After several errors, I might flip through the booklet scanning for pictures and toss it back away if there are none.

Unfortunately, our 1912 treadle sewing machine didn’t come with an instruction manual, pictures or no pictures.

Sitting down to the old beauty, mom and I tried it out, rocking our feet back and forth, only to discover that the needle went backward more times than it went forward!

“Something must be wrong,” Mom said.

The treadle said, “It’s not me. It’s you.”

But of course we can’t understand the language of inanimate pieces of machinery, so we searched the world wide web.

It turns out, most YouTubers are just as ignorant as we are and have terrible video taking skills.

Finally, we happened upon a gem: a horridly ancient “double-u, double-u, double-u, dot” that was probably set up with a hotmail account. If you’d like to see it, click here for the link.

After taking the thread out and experimenting with some fabric, I discovered the importance of rhythm and keeping one hand ready to spin the fly wheel in case of a backwards stitch.

Fast forward, the treadle sewing machine is now residing at Mohican Wilderness Campground in a little shop (after much hauling, grunting, and nervousness).

DSC06479Since transporting it, I’ve sewn several small articles, demonstrated the process, and kept my foot alongside little girls who wish to try it. One dad sat down and rotated the pedal so fast that his daughters gasped in terror,

“Don’t break it, Daddy!”

Now that the treadle is here, I can officially say that “Treadle Cat” is open for business.

❇Elephants and frogs ready to be stuffed with love❇


❇Make-it-yourself-on-the-treadle drawstring bags❇

(I don’t have a picture of my sample one yet. Two kids have made them.)

❇Friendship bracelets where each button represents a friend❇


❇Glass magnets, and many, many buttons to choose from❇


Treadle Cat Open for Business.


Boys and Buttons

Vague pangs of excitement and terror stirred inside of me this Forth of July.

I unlocked the sliding barn doors and swept the wood floor for the one-hundredth time. My wares seemed scant and laughable displayed here in this cabin. Splayed out over my room at home they were deceivingly numerous.

Many questions and fears played in my mind.

What if nobody ever comes to see me here?

What if someone actually does come, and I have to talk to them?

What on earth should I say?

What? What? What?

Thank goodness my Mom accompanied me, helped me arrange tables, and talked to people who walked by. I can talk too, but Mom has an uncanny way of making people open up to her and feel at ease. I don’t think I can make others feel at ease unless I’m at ease myself.

Today I was not at ease.

Then came the boys.

They sauntered in, at ease themselves, and one volunteered his brother for a sewing lesson. The quieter boy chose a blue, polka-dotted fabric to sew into a drawstring bag. I walked him through the steps, demonstrated how to stick in the pins, and watched him guide the sewing machine. His skill at keeping so straight for his very first time impressed me, and I encouraged him to persevere.

After he finished and showed his mom, he decided to embellish his bag with buttons. His patient, young fingers maneuvered the needle and thread with interest. I thought he’d be satisfied with one button, but he continued sewing a total of three and took two more buttons for the road.

If anyone dares think that sewing is too girly, I wish they’d seen how hard that little man worked on his project. Now he can carry rocks, frogs, money, or whatever he wants in a drawstring bag he made with his own, patient, young hands.

The Start of My Summer Adventure.



Bird droppings.

Doesn’t sound much like the start of a grand adventure, does it?

Since I am graduating from high school this year, people ask me about my future plans, trying to be polite. That’s what you ask someone finishing high school, isn’t it? “What are you doing with the rest of your life?”

When you are asked something over and over again the answers becomes rehearsed and stale:

“What’s your name?”


“How old are you?”

“Just turned 19.”

“What school do you go to?”

“I’m homeschooled.”

*Look of condescension, surprise, or awe.* “Oh, really?”

The only answer I’ve had to change over the years is my age. Now, instead of asking what my favorite subject is, they ask, “What are your future plans?”

When I blink and let out an extended, “Weeeell….”, they step back, raise their eyebrows, and wait for the conventional reply;

“Oh, I’m going to this college for a degree that will insure I have a steady income for the rest of my life.”

Although, I can’t say that.

I can’t say it, because I don’t know.

“WHAT?!” You ask. “You don’t know what you want to do for the rest of your life? You’ll just start mooching off of your parents and end up an old maid!”

Ok, so maybe you aren’t really asking that, but sometimes that’s what if feels like. Those understanding nods of sympathy tell me, “Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out soon.”

Bird droppings.

That’s the only thing I have figured out so far. The only thing I know I’m doing this summer is working at a camp ground. Not as a janitor, a canoe washer, or a horse rider, but as a seamstress.

Yesterday, I slid the wooden doors open, blinking in the disturbed dust. Old inner tubes, old office chairs, and some very new birds nests met me in my new cabin. With my push broom, I swept out the inner tubes and dusty grime. Hands on hips, I perused my work space, pleased with the size. I found the artisan cabin larger than I had remembered it. Some wooden shelves and tables still stand stacked in one corner until I can go clean some more.

Over the course of this summer, I will work in that cabin with a sewing machine.

A treadle sewing machine.

Ideally, pleasant campers will step onto my porch, gaze around in awe at my wares, and learn how to sew simple seams and how to tack on a button (for a small price, of course.)

As I said, “ideally.”

If you know anything about me, you should know that I’m not a very organized person. I fly by the seat of my pants so much, my head is often wet from the rain clouds above.

I don’t have my whole summer planned out. I don’t know how much I’ll produce or sell.

The one thing I do know is this:

I am where I am supposed to be for this summer.

Call me, Treadle Cat.