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.