LINCOLN AREA ARCHIVES MUSEUM
Where: Beermann Plaza at 640 5th St.
When: Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
Free: Donations always accepted
Readers are on a roll again. Several readers knew what both variations of last week’s mystery item were called and their purpose.
If you know what this week’s item is, please send answers to email@example.com by Tuesday. We like sharing your tidbits too about the mystery item.
Last week’s mystery item
Vickie Fritz “This week’s mystery item is a darning aide, usually used for darning holes in socks. It keeps you from sticking your finger with the needle.”
Paul Long: “This is an easy one like last week’s item. They are darning tools. The one on the left is called a mushroom darner used for socks, sleeves and other garments. The other one is called an egg darner, which was mostly used for socks, mainly wool socks. One more thing on last week’s Morse code switch that I thought was interesting is several years ago, there was a contest between the national champion on texting against a retired Morse code operator. They had two paragraphs to send to another person in another room and the Morse code guys beat the texting champion by over 26 seconds with perfect spelling.”
Char Robbins: “The items are for darning socks that have a hole in them. One is a Scotch darning instrument (mushroom). The other is a ‘darning egg.’ They give a surface to sew against when darning. I have a couple of these myself that belonged to my husband’s aunt from years ago. For those interested, there are demonstrations on the internet.”
Susan Worthington: “My grandmother, MorMor, was born in Sweden and always when she darned our socks with holes, she would put the maraca into the sock, then mend the hole.”
Carolyn Graves: “I actually have one like the one on the right. My mother called it a darning egg and it was used for darning holes in socks.”
Karen Schurr: “The first is a ‘modern’ darning tool. The second is a Darning Egg, used when you darn holes in your socks. I actually used the Darning Egg and still have my mother’s.”
Ruth Wehner: “I think it is a sock darner. Put the darner inside the sock, making it easier to sew the hole shut.”
The Lincoln Area Archives Museum docents’ explanation
Last Friday’s mystery items are mending darners. The more common one is the egg-shaped darner and the rounder, flatter instrument is a mushroom darner.
The darners are on loan to the Lincoln Area Archives Museum from the collection of museum docent Shirley Farnsworth Russell. She inherited them through the estates of Martha Tucker Benz, Shirley Benz Jones and Martha Jones Farnsworth, five generations of darners.
For years, darners were used to mend clothes and other fabrics, especially when items were costly or hard to obtain, according to the museum docents. The tools mended (darned) small holes in socks, gloves, clothes and bedding.
Today, darning seems to be a lost art, according to museum docents. Darners are available online as single objects or entire collections. The tool is made out of many materials, from wood, blown glass, silver, porcelain, pottery, a combination of silver and wood, plastic and rocks. Some fancy darners open and needles, thimbles and thread are kept inside.
The Lincoln Area Archives Museum is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free but donations are always welcome.
- Carol Feineman