Hand Sewing, Continued …

While accompanying my husband Mike on a business trip here to South America in 1992, I felt I really should buy another packet of the sharps I was using to quilt “Ora Banda”, as we were shortly to be heading off into the wilds of Argentina. (Geologists’ wives accompanying husbands on work trips are used to spending time on our own during working hours!)

“Ora Banda”, 1992. 127cm x 150cm. QN93

I knew very little Spanish at the time, so I think I did pretty well to find a haberdashery, sort out the vocab for buying needles, and remember to take along one I w as using to show what I neededThe assistant put a packet on the counter and asked how many I wanted. I replied I’d take just the one packet please, but she repeated the question to make it clear she meant how many individual needles I wanted. Thinking quickly on my feet, I covered my surprise by answering with a smile and my best manners that I’d take 3, please.  She wrapped those three needles in a small piece of blue (moisture proof?) paper; I paid the modest per needle cost in pesos of course (perhaps US 3c each) and walked out onto the street a little stunned. The country was still recovering from the military dictatorship, so I just presumed this was a struggling economy thing.  

Fast forward to the first pandemic year, 2020 and with overseas travel impossible and my stock of large needles running perilously low, I returned to that same shop which is now being run by the previous shopkeeper’s daughter. She produced just three large needles, which were not exactly what I wanted, but in an emergency beggars can’t be choosers ! so I bought them anyway, felt a little easier, and began to think this is a cultural thing.

I’ve since found a shop in another part of the city that does stock packets of the darning needles I need. A few months back my spares were down to four, so I called in for more. The shopkeeper placed a box on the counter and produced two unopened packs of ten #7 darners, and another containing just seven of the of the original ten. I bought the lot.  I started a new packet today, so pristine spares now number nineteen 😊 

Yesterday Virginia, a born and bred UY friend who sews and crafts a lot, said she’d never come across that, but she’ll ask around, and I’ll post any answer here.  She also told me something I’d never known or noticed – that in UY a person will never hand a needle directly to you but will always put it down for you to pick up.  Another UY friend Graciela, who lives in Australia and is currently visiting family here, said it’s always been possible to buy the just section you want from those made-in-China cards of 100 different purpose needles – I’m sure you know the ones, which also include a needle threader on the card.  I’m sure that all partly shaped my earliest needle buying experience here.

What started me on this article is that I was digging around in my hand needle stash the other day for a useful little gadget I keep in there.  A snag needle looks like a darning needle, but at the blunt end it’s tooled like a metal file, so it’s not technically a ‘needle’.  I was going to describe why and how to use one, until I found this little ~3min video on that very subject https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqfriMwpPJo  It’s something everyone should have in their hand needle stash!

One Response to “Hand Sewing, Continued …”

  1. kathy loomis says:

    I never heard of a snag repair needle and don’t believe I’ve ever seen one in either a store or a catalog. I am really surprised — thought I had been exposed to every sewing tool under the sun (even though I don’t choose to use many of them). But I guess not!

Leave a Reply

Translate »