Yes, why the name indeed? Well it’s nothing to do with Fanny Brice or any of that bollocks but more so with the poem of the same name by George Pope Morris. So if you’re sitting comfortably?
I’m the Iron Needle-Woman! Wrought of sterner stuff than clay; And, unlike the drudges human, Never weary night or day; Never shedding tears of sorrow, Never mourning friends untrue, Never caring for the morrow, Never begging work to do.
Poverty brings no disaster! Merrily I glide along, For no thankless, sordid master, Ever seeks to do me wrong: No extortioners oppress me, No insulting words I dread– I’ve no children to distress me, With unceasing cries for bread.
I’m of hardy form and feature, For endurance framed aright; I’m not pale misfortune’s creature, Doomed life’s battle here to fight: Mine’s a song of cheerful measure, And no under-currents flow To destroy the throb of pleasure Which the poor so seldom know.
In the hall I hold my station, With the wealthy ones of earth, Who commend me to the nation For economy and worth, While unpaid the female labor, In the attic-chamber lone, Where the smile of friend or neighbor Never for a moment shone.
My creation is a blessing To the indigent secured, Banishing the cares distressing Which so many have endured: Mine are sinews superhuman, Ribs of oak and nerves of steel– I’m the Iron Needle-Woman, Born to toil and not to feel.
By Greg Pope Morris
So there we have it, my silly moniker explained but rooted in something I relate to. Sewing has never been anything frilly for me, instead it’s been quite visceral. As a teen making my abominations, it was a backlash to the perceived norm when sewing had fallen out of fashion. Growing up in an impoverished Northern mill town, the landscape was bleak but the inner world was a kaleidoscope. Thankfully.