06 September 2015

What's in a needle?

Having read about them in American sewing magazines, I was interested to see a display of Tulip needles at Festival of Quilts, and had a good conversation with Yuko about them -
She gave me a catalogue and a sample set, which contains a quilting needle, an embroidery needle, an applique needle, and some pins -
Sad to say, I haven't tried them yet - being the sort of person who "takes the nearest" as long as the needle's eye is big enough for the thread and who has needle books and pincushions scattered around the place, and probably a few loose needles and pins too, I rather hope that Proper Needles will not only improve the pleasure of sewing (if that is possible) but might prompt me to be a bit more careful and organised with these tiny, sharp, important objects. (But I'm putting off testing that theory.)

90% of needles produced in Japan are manufactured in the city of Hiroshima. The catalogue tells the history of this industry, which stretches back 300 years. Click on the image(s) to make them large enough to read -
What the discerning craftsman needs in a needle, the catalogue implies, is smooth piercing, "a quality eye that prevents snagging", and a smooth and flexible (but not bendy) body. I can testify to the importance of a smooth eye - buying "value" needles, you often end up with needles that can't even be threaded because the eye is so rough!
Manufacturing starts with stretching the wire straight and cutting to size, then grinding the tip, shaping the head and stamping the eye, grinding off the "ears" produced by the stamping; it goes through stages of hardening, polishing, sharpening the tip, nickel plating, and inspection.

Tulip produces about 50 kinds of needles. Why so many different kinds, I asked Yuko. "People who make different things have their favourite needles and want just those," she replied. Good workers value good tools.


Anonymous said...

Tulip needles are wonderful! Don't delay trying yours any longer.
Some come in little glass vials with cork tops. Easier to return to safe storage than into those nasty little plastic things with holes glued to cardboard!
Worth every penny.


Sandy said...

No against Japanese needles - would love to try them! - but in case you or your bloggers are interested, we are having Karen Parry from John James needles (British!) come to the November TVCT meeting 21 November in Bracknell.
You can direct people to http://www.tvctextiles.co.uk/ for more details of the meeting.
Sandy with my Co-ordinator hat on