Friday, November 27, 2015

The Early Workbasket ~ Needles

Welcome friends and needleworkers, hope your
Thanksgiving Day was very special!

Oh my goodness, it's time to peek into this
 week's workbasket...

Today's topic is the humble little "needle"

This young peasant girl will share her 
most treasured possession...

Needles are the most important tool for sewing,
and are as old as time! 

They were found in gold and silver in Pre~dynastic Egyptian
tombs, and are used virtually unchanged today.

Little is known about the origins of the steel needle, except 
that it was brought in Medieval times from Islamic countries to
Spain, from where it slowly filtered into the rest of Europe.

Recorded needlemakers were registered in Vienna, Austria as
early as 1295.  Nuremberg in Germany was making steel needles 
by 1370 and Queen Elizabeth I had the steel needle brought to 
London in 1566.  

From the end of the sixteenth century Amsterdam had it own
needlemaking industry.  

Here are some examples of early museum needles...

These three brass needles were excavated in Amsterdam 
in the 1970' back to the first half of the 14th century!

By the 1840's sewing needles were being produced in
great quantities.  The average person could now afford to buy
a packet of needles whereas previously it was only possible
to own an individual needle.

During the eighteenth century fine embroidery was very 
much the province of the upper classes.  

These were the ladies who owned fine embroidery tools and 
spent their time producing decorative items and samplers.

On the other hand, the sweet peasant girl, a poor villager,
thought of her needle as her most treasured possession as it
was needed for the necessities of life! 

There are, in fact, recorded instances of one needle being 
shared by a small village!  

For this level of society there was no time or place for fine
decorative embroidery. 

As the years passed needle companies were a growing 

All competing for attractive packaging!

Wow, a whole package of needles for only .4¢!!!!

This package is from my Grandmother's workbasket.

 Frozen in time...just the way she left this single needle!

Then, retail companies started using needlebooks as a means
of advertising, to reach the woman of the house...

Do you have any old needlebooks in your stash?

And finally, during the 1960's ~ 1970's grocery stores
gave them out as a complimentary thank you gifts...

I actually remember shopping at A&P grocery store as a 
little girl.

I wish grocery stores would revive such a generous
shopping incentive!

Back in 2007, I purchased one of my favorite needles...

It may look like other needles, but it is very special because
it is a handmade Japanese needle!

I still have the original little glass jar it came in...

And I like to keep it in this I don't loose it!

For my personal everyday favorite needles I always 
use John James Tapestry Petites...

I recommend using size 24 needles on
  28 ct linen or 14 ct aida cloth

Size 26 needles for 28 & 30 ct linen or 16 ct aida cloth

Size 28 needles for 32, 35/36, 40 count linens or
16, 18 count aida cloth

What makes these needles different is the shorter (Petite) shaft,
making them wonderful to hold in your hand while stitching.

Because there is less needle shaft, you are able
to keep stitching, using most of your thread...much less waste!

Plus, with the petite needle you'll be able to stitch 
much faster!

John James Petite needles in sizes 24, 26 and 28 
are all available in my Etsy Shoppe...

Weekend Soul Food...

It is easier for a camel to go through the
eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Mark 10:25...KJV

Looking forward to visiting again on Monday...see you then!

Kindly, Tammy


  1. Thanks for sharing all the history, I had no idea! .. love your little bird pinkeep too!

  2. Another lesson learned...thank you! So appreciated, blessings for a wonderful weekend Tammy!

  3. Thanks for the needle history.
    You have a great collection.
    I love the old needlebook with the Indian on it!

  4. interesting needle info! Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a wonderful post Tammy. Stay warm!

  6. I love needles. It is something that I love looking at and learning about. That Japanese needle is just wonderful. After I lost my eyesight, and couldn't see to thread a needle and then had my eyes fixed, every time I thread one now, it seems like a small miracle. Very nice post.

  7. I, too, love needles and try my best to take care of each and every one remembering how precious they were to schoolgirls and others so many years ago. The most unusual needles I have are those I gathered from the hoof of a deer. Most times the front hooves contain two small bones shaped very much like needles. I have buried the hooves (hunters don't have very much use for the hooves) for about six months, making it easier to get to the bones. The hooves can also be boiled to remove the hard outer covering. What fun it is to discover the bones! Believe it or not, sometimes there is even a tiny hole in the bone. Native Americans used these needles to sew their clothing. Do you know that deer hooves also contain toes under those hard hooves? Thanks for your needle information. Thought your readers might like to know about another kind of needle.

    Diane in North Carolina

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