Sunday, 26 January 2014

Did you know : 10 interesting facts about hand sewing needles

  1. The first needles had split heads instead of an eye and were made out of bone. 
  2. Embroidery needles are identical to sharps, except that they have a longer eye to make it easier to thread multiple strands of cotton and thicker yarns. 
  3. There are various claims regarding the discovery of the earliest known needle. One is that the earliest known bone needle was found 61 000 years ago in Sibudu Cave, a Middle Stone Age site in KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. Another is that the earliest bone needle was found in southwest France and is estimated to be more than 25 000 years old. Yet another is that archaeologists found 30 000-year-old ivory sticks with eyelets at a dig south of Moscow – the oldest known evidence of needles with eyes. 
  4. At Queen’s College, Oxford, there is a tradition of presenting each scholar with a needle and thread. The story goes that the founder bequeathed a certain sum to the school with the provision that some of this money be used to buy each scholar a needle and some thread. On New Year’s the students and fellows living in the school’s lodgings gather and the bursar presents them with their needles and thread, saying “Take this and be thrifty.” 
  5. The knowledge behind needle making was used in England to make fish hooks and the country became known for the high quality of both in the mid-17th century. 
  6. American Pam Turner invented Spiral Eye side threading needles, which she launched in 2008. You thread the needle by looping your thread around the eye of the needle then slipping it into the slot alongside the eye, up through the “spiral” and into the eye itself. This design prevents the thread from slipping out of the needle while sewing. 
  7. The first needles were made from bone, animal horn, thorns, fishbones and wood, later they were fashioned from bronze and eventually steel. Most needles today are stainless steel and plated in gold or nickel to prevent corrosion. During the wood phase, holly was a favourite in Britain as it was strong wood but supple and kept its point well. Net makers used holly wood needles right up until the 20th century. Hawthorn and blackthorn were also popular. 
  8. During the time of Queen Elizabeth I, when steel needles were introduced to England, they were known as Spanish needles. The arrival of these needles led to the rise in popularity of Jacobean embroidery or crewelwork during her reign. It is said that the needle maker of Mary I of England was a Spanish man of African descent who took his knowledge of needle making with him to the grave. 
  9. In China, there is a tradition known as the fête of the Milky Way. The Milky Way represents the heavenly river, on either side of which is the cowboy star and the pining maid, who meet once a year on 20 August (other sources say 25 August). Chinese girls watch and listen during the night to hear what the stars might say. In the morning, the girls drop a needle into a bowl of water and if it stays on the surface, she can tell her fortune from the way the shadow is reflected. 
  10. The Bank of England is also known as the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. Some say the nickname came about when artist and caricaturist James Gillray depicted the bank as an elderly lady wearing a dress made of bank notes, with a gold coin in her pocket and seated on a money chest, in a cartoon in 1797. Others say the nickname stems from the legend of Sarah Whitehead. Her brother, a bank employee, was accused of fraud and hanged in 1812 without her knowledge. When she found out, Sarah lost her mind and kept turning up at the bank asking for her brother. Bank officials tired of her daily visits and banished her, but after her death she returned and has been seen wandering the street outside enquiring after her brother. The bank is situated on Threadneedle Street in London, UK.


Paula Marcondes said...

"The man who invented the wheel was wearing animal skins that had been sewn together with a needle"
Article Source:
I always quote this - like the idea and really put things in the right place!

Kelly Fletcher said...

Haha, that's a great one, Paula. I must remember it!

Anonymous said...

I like sewing because its fun and i'm making a pillow at school and at home

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