Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hari-Kuyo Festival of Broken Needles

I read on Quiltville Facebook that February 8th is the 400 year old Japanese ritual called Hari-Kuyo "Festival of Broken Needles". You can read more about the festival here and here. I really enjoyed reading Kelly's post over at I Have A Notion blog. These links lead me down a cyberspace rabbit hole where I may have been lost for hours jumping from link to link.... hope you don't get lost there!
This lead me to many thoughts about sewing needles and I found this quote: also honors the secret sorrows that women have. As a woman sews, her essence permeates that small needle with her energy and aura. The needles are believed to share these burdens, and take some of them into themselves, so this burial is a way to thank them and put these matters to rest.

I wonder what burdens my needles would tell you they have carried for me? Here is the final resting place for my broken and bent needles.
My machine quilting needles rarely break because I am very careful what I sew on and never ever sew over pins. I hate it when a needle breaks when I am machine quilting - it really scares me, so I am careful to always use a strong needle with no burrs. When starting to quilt a large quilt, I change the needle, usually putting in a 90 Topstitch needle. When I finish the quilting on a project I change the needle again, usually putting in an 80 Microsharp for piecing.

However, I do seem to be very hard on hand stitching needles. They seem to bend easily, especially through thick seam intersections. This is the needle I bent during Slow Sunday Stitching this week!

These are my precious John James hand quilting needles. The "Big Eye" makes it easier to thread, and the small size needle helps me to take tinier stitches. I have probably tried every brand of needle on the market and have many packages laying around so I will never be without a new sharp needle to use.
I was thinking about pioneer women who treasured their needles, often having only 1 or 2 to sew with. Click here for a story about how precious needles used to be. 
Still thinking about needles? 
Here is a video on Schmetz needle production (a bit odd and slow moving with lots of advertising for Schmetz) and here is a Discovery channel video about needle and pin production (this video is half as long and more interesting to watch).
What's your favorite needle? Do you break and bend your needles? Do you have any tips for needle care?


Kathy ... aka Nana said...

I rarely bend or break my hand quilting needles ... I still have an old, old package of Coats and Clark #9 quilting needles which are the same size as my John James #10 needles.

I'm quite familiar with cyberspace rabbit holes. ;-) I wonder if I can count that as exercise.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I have no problem throwing out bent pins (spedial sharps container), but have trouble throwing out bent needles - broken ones, yes . That may have come from my gr.gran as she kept every needle no matter what the condition - might be some of this background your gave us. I have a couple of the little (old) strawberry pin sharpeners (stuffed with metal filings) and poke my sewing needles to sharpen - thinner needles I do tend to bend, but I have some that fit my fingers comfortably that I enjoy using.

Deb A said...

I tend to use the same needles over and over... even when the quilting ones get bent. I really need to just grab a new one at that point. I'll have time today to visit the links.... home with a girl with a bit of a fever.

Jill said...

For my current quilt, I am having the best luck with Bohin needles which are made in France. Size 9 (yikes), but I have found with my arthritic fingers that the longer needle is easier to pull through the seam allowances. I have had no issues with bent needles either. I also can load an extra stitch. Since I use a needle threader, a big eye is not important. Actually, I find the smaller eye goes through the fabric easier. The needle package is also labeled Bohin Couture Demi-Longues, Betweens, Patchwork.

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

sometimes I use my needles forever! and other times I get a package that seems to bend rather easily. I place all my bent/used needles in a little container and when it gets full I tape it shut and toss it in the trash. We all swear by needles that work for us, for me I use tiny Roxanne #11 betweens for quilting and Jeanna Kimball #11 for applique (they are a little longer) even though the same size.

Hilary Florence said...

I had not come across the saying before. what I lovely idea. I do ten to get through quite a few sewing machine needles - not sure why. It's not sewing over pins - I do a lot of free motion quilting. Thinking of a needle taking on the aura of the sewer, what about taking something for the piece being sewn? Functional and strong, as a straight line holding two pieces of material together, or decorative and patterned as in fmq?
Hmmm. what do you think?
Hilary Florence

Plum Cox said...

What a great post - loved the links!
I use broken or dull machine needles as pins for hanging pictures / rulers / quilts around the house.
Hand needles I tend to keep on using, even if bent! The only thing that stops me using them is a burr, as I don't like it when the needle catches on the fabric!

Deanna W said...

Bent hand sewing needles help you get around those bends!! haha
I tend to use them even if bent. But I do take the shine(silver coating) off the needles and this makes it difficult for the needle to go through the fabric. So I change my needles quite often.As for hand quilting needles, I do bend and break them...I just move onto another one. I have no particular brand I prefer. I have lots of needles in my stash and along with the thread and fabric I am trying to use them up!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the thoughtful and informative post. I'm not good about changing my needles regularly and hope to be more aware of using a new needle for new quilt piecing.

Janet O. said...

I loved the Discovery channel video. Reminds me of watching Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood with my kids. I loved his videos of how different household things were made.

Kate said...

My needles probably carry a lot of stress, because I always feel so much more relaxed after a stitching session. Very thought provoking post.