On the Southern Cross Quilters list this morning a member was telling how she helped a family clear out and dispose of their recently deceased mother’s quilting books and ‘stash’ – the umbrella term for a quilter’s¬†collection of fabrics, and it really includes everything else used to make patchwork quilts, like¬†threads, machine and hand sewing needles.¬† The lady was obviously a keen hand sewer, as exquisite embroidery patterns and¬†items were mentioned, too.¬† And then¬†she said there was a shoe box¬†almost filled with hand sewing needles !! Now that would be something!¬†¬† Clearly this woman¬†had always¬†planned ahead, determined¬†that no shortage, no siege or any other factor relating to ‘needles’¬†would ever prevent her from continuing a project.¬† I’m guessing many of them would be very old, and wrapped in that black paper that helps prevent rust.¬†There are still a few needle producing companies that present their product this way – old fashioned, but they tend to be high quality, too.
The whole concept of needles in a packet and planning ahead reminded me of my first shopping for needles here in Uruguay, in about 1998.¬† I was running low on the few I’d brought over from Australia and would need a new pack of sharps.¬† Back then, with my limited Spanish and no small amount of bravery, I tracked down a notions shop, a merceria, and managed to convey that I wanted to buy a packet of needles about so-long (imagine hand and finger movements here).¬†¬†¬†¬† The lady asked “How many?” I replied “One packet please” and she repeated “How many” and added “needles?”¬†¬†¬† What??? Now, thinking fast on my feet, I said the first number that came into my head , which was three, so, much to my astonishment,¬†three sharps were duly laid out on a small piece of paper which was folded around them and a piece oftape applied to keep it all¬†together.¬† Things have changed and packets of needles are available even in supermarkets now.¬† Lots of very interesting little shops have gone, though.
So here’s my very modest stash in Uruguay – I have more but far fewer in Aus – it’s a Girl Guide Be Prepared prepared thing in case I am not able to find the quality and brands I know here – so¬† I buy a pack or two every time I go back to Aus, along with the Gravox and Vegemite – they’re equally important to me!¬† Anything else, even decent tea, you can get here.