Broken Needle Day
One day a year, in by gone centuries, Japanese women who made a living with their sewing needles gathered their worn and broken needles to take to their nearest shrine for a ceremony called Hari-Kuyo. We call this Broken Needle Day. It is a time to pause, notice, and be grateful to our needles for all they do for us.
I asked some of you to send photos of how you keep and care for your needles so we could share them here, and I am collecting them together for that.
But this photo I love so much that I want to share it now. This is my sister's cat guarding her needles, which reside in a basket she wove, in felted wool pin cushion that was felted by her her or her daughter.
Have I ever mentioned I come from a family of creative makers? It helps to keep me humble about my own creative abilities! 🤣 Whenever I get thinking I'm amazing I just go visit them and then I know I'm just ordinary again!
This week I found an old plated silver salt cellar and made it into a needle cushion for my best needles. Now if only I would have the discipline to keep them separated from my general collection, but I never will!
I first heard of Broken Needle Day a few years after I started sashiko stitching. Maybe that was good because I had had time to really experience and become attached to my hand sewing needles.
That might sound a bit silly if you are not in love with hand stitching, but for the rest of us - but then why would you be reading this if you weren't a stitcher? So you know what I mean.
A favourite needle is such valued little tool, no different than a favourite paint brush to an artist.
My favourite needle is always a long strong big eye sashiko needle which has developed the tiniest bend in it, barely noticeable, from the pressure of my stitching.
A good needle improves like any good hand tool, but sooner or later they all give way. They bend too far, or break, we blunt the tip, or the eye pulls out.
Look around yourself and notice how much cloth there is and how much of it has been sewn. Look back through what you remember of your history and culture and remember all the sewn cloth made, needed, and used.
I've written elsewhere about the value of cloth in our lives, and about the value of the women's work that created it. Now I am adding another thought. When we have respect for these historically 'humble' sewing needles, it elevates the work we do with them, gives that work the right to respect also.