Beading is such a zen activity: stitch, add a bead, stitch, add a bead... SNAP! Dammit, there goes another needle. I love bead embroidery, but I do not love stitching through Ultrasuede. Beading needles are notoriously thin and the repeated passage through that tough fabric causes great stress on them. The eye gets smaller, the needles bend, and eventually they break.
Marble Man, super-tired of hearing me swear, googled beading needles and came across an article about Hari-kuyo, an annual quirky Japanese festival for seamstresses and embroiderers to bid farewell to broken needles. Sounds like I need to buy a ticket on that train.
"On the day of the memorial service – 8 February throughout most of Japan, but 8 December in much of the Kansai region and western Japan – seamstresses and embroiderers take a day of rest from their craft, and bring their used, bent and broken needles and pins to their temple or shrine. As they pay their respects, their needles and pins are stuck upright into blocks of tofu or konnyaku (a kind of edible jelly made from a plant-based flour). Tofu and konnyaku are used because of their soft texture; which is thought to soothe the needles after their labour, effectively wrapping them with tenderness and gratitude. A priest incants a sutra, marking the needles’ passage from use, and offers a blessing, which is thought to rub off on the person who has made the offering. The essence of hari-kuyo is to honour the needles for their hard work, give thanks for their service over the preceding year, and also to pray for improved needlework skills in the future. The used needles and pins are often sent to Awashima Shrine, where they are then laid to rest. In some regions, the blocks of tofu and konnyaku, with their pins sticking out, are farewelled by being floated down a river."
From The Japanese Foundation, Sydney
Instead of cursing my sorry luck at breaking a needle on a regular basis, I think I'll keep a block of tofu handy to place them in and thank them for their hard service. How's that for a new and unusual New Year's Resolution?
copyright 2011 Shibori Girl