I scurried back and forth beneath the machine as it clicked and clacked with metallic precision. The noise was deafening but I paid it no mind, intent on picking up the stray fibres that fell to the floor. I hated these inhuman machines that allowed for no rest and no joy.
“When I have children,” I promised myself, “I will make them things with my own two hands and I will put love and joy into every stitch. They will not wear inhuman things made by these machines.”
Image: Child labourer, Newberry, South Carolina by Lewis Hines 1908
It was a fierce and passionate promise that rang through the ethers, as such promises do, to survive death and rebirth. I didn’t know that I would not live to adulthood in this life. I would not have the children I yearned for when I was but a child myself – skinny arms and pale legs in a dirty shift – just one of the many child labourers of the Industrial Revolution.
I sit here now, typing on the porch, circular knitting needles and yarn close to hand, keeping faith with the child I was. Where to begin? When I first met her, or when I first kept faith with the promise she made herself? Is this her story or my story? We are one.