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Rosie Oyster Shucker

The short story is that this piece is based on this photo by Lewis Wickes Hine.

7-year old Rosie. Regular oyster shucker. Her second year at it. Illiterate. Works all day. Shucks only a few pots a day. (Showing process) Varn & Platt Canning Co. Location: Bluffton, South Carolina.

7-year old Rosie. Regular oyster shucker. Her second year at it. Illiterate. Works all day. Shucks only a few pots a day. (Showing process) Varn & Platt Canning Co. Location: Bluffton, South Carolina.

Keep reading for the longer story.

I have long been enamored with Hine’s photography. If you are a lover of turn of the century photos (as I am), then you have probably run into more than one of his photos. Street urchin? Newspaper boy? Probably a Hine photo.

When I started doing more research into my family’s history and genealogy, I grew to love his work even more — particularly his child labor photos and more specifically, the ones of families and children working in and around canneries on the East Coast.

My grandfather’s father was born in Biloxi — though all his siblings were born in Maryland and they lived in Baltimore. His parents are listed as working in a packinghouse/cannery in Baltimore in the 1910 census. Further, there was a vague feeling that they were “migrant” workers. All of this leads me to believe the family worked for a few months of the year down in Mississippi.

At the turn of the century, the seafood industry in Biloxi was experiencing a boom and there was a great need for skilled labor to work in boats and at the canneries. But the owners didn’t want to have to train people. As it turned out, Baltimore was home to the most experienced laborers — most of them Polish. So, many Biloxi companies employed seasonal workers from Baltimore, providing them transportation via train, and housing near the cannery. Children worked alongside the women in the canneries and the men generally worked out oystering and shrimping.

When I see photos like the one of Rosie, or this one or the myriad others Hine took, I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like for the members of my family who most likely worked in such conditions.

More detail photos in my Flickr stream.

Since it’s the New Year and everything, I thought it would be good to write down a few things that I’ve been wanting to accomplish and/or become better at doing.

Firstly, actual blogging. It’s been fits and starts for a while now. I don’t know that I want to set an actual schedule, but I’m thinking I can post more frequently than once or twice a month (which is the average around here). December was a good start. Six whole posts all in the same month.

Secondly, I would like to be a better drawer. Doodling shapes and squiggly lines is one thing — and don’t get me wrong, I adore both of those things — but I would really like to be better at actual drawing of real things. Thus, I embarked on a little adventure last night. It really started out as a tracing exercise — I’ve drawn on vellum over a photograph — but it’s still a bit tricky.

More of a peek. Feeling better about this as I go (I am an excellent tracer don't go giving me too much credit)

Further, as I go along and stitch I need to reference both the drawing I made and the actual photo. So it’s not all just trace and go.

Rosie. WIP. Started working in thread from my sketch last night.

I don’t want to sell myself short because I think there’s a fair amount of skill that I’m using here, but I did not draw from scratch.  Still, practice is practice and I know the more I do it, the better I’ll become. I am casually looking for a class here and there, but nothing right has come up so far.

Her name is Rosie, and that’s all I’ll say until it’s finished — I don’t want to spoil it. I’m saving the harder bits — hands, face and hair — for last. So far, I’ve used just about a skein of floss and three types of stitches. I’m planning on at least two or three other stitches, and a bunch more floss.

I’ve been working lately on some holiday projects. I decided a while back to give this Modern Folk pattern a try for a present for my mother (who doesn’t read things on the Internet, so it’s safe to share). Further, I decided to be insane and do it in one strand on some tiny linen. It was looking really great (and I was only going slightly blind) until I had to take out a few errant stitches and ripped the darn thing. It was sad. Because it was looking really quite pretty.

 So now I’ve started it again both on the same linen and on a much larger grid Aida. The Aida will be much faster (and obviously end up much bigger), but I’m just not as happy with how it’s looking. It’s just frustrating me at the moment. I will probably end up going back to the linen though.

I did however, complete this awesome meme kit from Subversive Cross Stitch and Steotch. The ERMAGERD! meme is easily my husband’s favorite and so it was a no-brainer. I couldn’t keep it a secret either. It was one of the first that was up on the tree.

I’m also working on some ornaments for some friends using this lovely pattern from Miniature Rhino. While I was doing those, my daughter sat down with me and asked to “do some sewing, too”. I set her up with a little square of muslin and a 4″ hoop and she went to work. She drew her own little design, picked the colors and after I helped her split, thread the needle and knot the floss, she went to town and made this sweet ornament.

I’m hoping to have things wrapped up soon so I can get to work on a few things that are stuck in my head. It is looking like it’s going to be another creative January for me. It’s always January!

our little camping cabin

This weekend our family took a little trip up north to the mountains. We met up with my husband’s brother’s family and had a nice time hanging out around the campfire. Thank goodness that the rain that came through on Saturday morning lifted just after lunch and the kids all went down for a rest.

The leaves in our part of Virginia haven’t started to turn yet, so I will have more of this sort of thing to look forward to in the near future. Fall has to be my favorite season.

stitching on the screened in porch

While the kids were napping, I took the opportunity to try to get some cross stitch practice in.

Not sure if you can see them well, but the tree on the right has little groupings of French knots.

I have no idea what the size of this even-weave is — it’s just a remnant that I had laying around. It’s pretty small though. I’m working just with one strand of floss. The tree on the right I started from scratch, and it’s only about halfway done. My shoulder held up for about an hour or so before it just got too sore. I am sure stitching in 50 degree weather wasn’t doing me any favors.

Still, I’m working my way through a few things and hopefully will be making some progress on working up a pattern of my own sometime in the near future.

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