9/22/2022

Hats, hats, hats

This post is inspired by two things.
One is a blog post about the hats of my friend Michelle from My Bijou Life. I couldn't join in this link party because I don't do selfies, but I thought I could still blog about my very small collection of hats.
The other is that this enabler made me buy a new hat with her post ;-)
I got it for a new project, but don't know yet when I'll be starting working on it - in fact I have a problem at the moment deciding what I want to make next because there are a few things on the list.

Let's get back to my collection.
Although I only wear hats if it's raining, I love especially vintage ones. I love netting, I love sequins, I love velvet and felt.
Unfortunately my long hair doesn't go well with most of the hats I own because it keeps getting caught at the back of collars, pushes the hats up and into my eyes which doesn't work with my glasses. I would probably have to try making a chignon at the nape of my neck, but the best I manage is a wonky braid.
The bigger problem, however, is that I am a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers woman, partly because it's the easiest outfit for me that I also feel most comfortable with, partly because cute shoes are out of the question for me, I simply can't walk in them anymore. T-shirt and jeans don't go very well with elegant vintage hats which is an absolute shame.

I got most of my hats during antiquing in the USA. My sister went on that particular trip with us and she loves vintage hats just as much as I do. We had so much fun because hats were not in abundance at the German fleamarkets or shops we went to, so this was quite new to us.
Now to the hats, though!
As you can see, I prefer mostly dark colors.






What I love most, however, are bowler or, as they are called in the USA, derby hats. Who knows, maybe it has to do with being a fan of Emma Peel and John Steed at a young age? Actually the show is called "Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone". Yes, in German we call bowlers "melons".
A bowler started it all at a huge fleamarket in the Bay Area our friend took us to. It was love at first sight.



Then I got this ladies' bowler at an antique shop in Santa Rosa. I don't remember the name of the shop, but I still know
that "Man's Favorite Sport?" was running on the small TV there. Isn't it funny which things stick in your mind?


Let's end this with the two hats I'm actually wearing.
One of them is my beloved Harris Tweed Baker Boy cap. It's one of my more colorful items, and by now I wish I had got more than just one when they still had different sizes instead of just one size with an elastic band.
Its best feature is that it fits just perfectly with all my hair stuffed inside.


The other one is a hat that has a bit of a cloche feel to it. I crocheted it myself from a few balls of "wash and felt" yarn that were on sale in a bowl in front of a shop. Felting in a washing machine was a completely new experience for me, so I felt (no pun intended ;-)) very lucky to get the size just right - you've probably guessed it, with all my hair stuffed inside.
Actually it's so perfect that I even refused stubbornly to give it to my mother when she admired it. I'm usually generous with stuff like that, but not only was I out of yarn, I was also sure that there was no chance of performing such a miracle again!


And a P.S. I forgot to add the hat that the cat on the stairs is wearing!

9/19/2022

Fall is here

Fall is my favorite season, but this year it seemed that as if instead of going for a gentle change, Summer packed his briefcase at 5 p.m. and left for home, and the morning after Fall came into work, laughed and turned the thermostat down. and first of all turned the heat down.
Other than in previous years, I'm taking this with a grain of salt. Given the current energy situation, should or can I turn the heat on? Will I have to look for the perfect cardigan yet again (I have very specific requirements and only ever found one that I gave away as a gift, something I still regret to this day)? Will I have to spend fall and winter in bed, covered by Gundel and dem Dekan, and how will I get them to stay there?

I decided to cuddle up in a blanket for now and concentrate on something else - fall colors.
Since der Dekan made his entrance in this house, I haven't got out my loom and only used Delicas for peyote bezels, but now I dug into my stash and made a bead mix from silver lined and transparent AB amber, a bit of silver lined marigold, and two kinds of red to make a pair of fall leaves. Who doesn't love fall leaves?
I made them in brick stitch and then thought about adding some beads from my mookaite stash, but then I remembered - once again - collecting leaves for a school project on a walk in the woods with my grandmother and how some of the leaves were rolled up at the sides. After trying out a few variations, I ended up with these here and topped them with a few dark red firepolished crystals.


My second pair of fall earrings is from the same bead mix, but this time I was determined to use mookaite which has the perfect colors for it.
At first, I wanted to make just one peyote tube for each earring, but as you can see, there was no stopping me! Copper goes beautifully with this color combination, oxidized or not, so I used copper wires to hold the tubes and beads together and to hang them on my own copper components and earwires.
This pair was really fun to make and I can see it in many other color combinations as well!


A bit of fun for the end. Changing of the seasons always makes me think of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" ;-)

9/14/2022

Nostalgia - Ruscha plate "Paris"

Some years ago when I still did the "Finds of the week" posts, I had some called "I'm a collector" in which I shared vintage items. Over time my collections have mostly stopped growing due to different reasons, but they are still there and still loved. I also have single vintage items that don't belong to a particular collection, some inherited, some gifts, some from fleamarkets, some more interesting than others. So I thought it could be fun to share some of them every, now and then and tell their story.

Years ago our place was like a weird little museum separated into different decades. One of them were the 50s. On one wall was my ex's Ruscha collection. Given just the number of decorative plates Ruscha made - not counting all the vases or sculptures - it could have been much bigger.
All I wanted to keep from it was one tiny plate with a cat, what else? It now resides in one of my book cabinets, category cat books.
But wait, who or what is Ruscha?

Ruscha was a ceramic factory founded in 1905 as the Rheinbacher Tonwaren Ruscha-Keramik GmbH & Co. KG.
The name Ruscha is a combination of the first letters in the founder's name, Rudolph Schardt. The company existed until 1996 when it was taken over by the Scheurich company which also bought the name and designs. For a while, they kept producing the Ruscha designs under the name "Ruscha Art", in 2006 the name was deleted for good.

The decorative wall plates came in all shapes, sizes, and designs.
Some were partially glazed, but I also remember that we had a small vase in the same manner as the plates, the design was a little fawn that looked as if it had been scratched into the vase.
Some designs were really popular like herons, but there were also people, masks, flowers, and other animals such as penguins, fish, deer, ... and cats. I can't even imagine how many walls you'd need to collect all of them.

Next question - why is this design called "Paris" if there's only a cat?
The "Paris" designs could look very different. There could be houses in the background or a tree and they never looked the same, but there was always a street lamp and usually a young lady wearing a striped top, capris, and very high heels that remind me of the sought after vintage Barbie spikes. Sometimes she had company, I've seen one plate in which the young lady were different clothes and was talking to a young man wearing a beret, and the trash can next to the street lamp that had fallen over gave it a very realistic touch. Often there was a white glazed cat with tabby stripes.
I guess my little plate didn't have enough space to include the young lady, so there's only the lamp, the stars, and the cat.


These plates are handmade which means the design never looks exactly the same. As you can see, my cat is looking if it's ready to fall asleep during walking through the Paris night because the eyes are set so low.
There are also different positions and I've even seen a cat whose tail looked more spotted than tabby.

The back of a plate also doesn't always look the same. I have seen plates with or without marking, stamped or written in German, but also English (for the abroad market, I'd guess), with the design number or without.
"Ruscha Handarbeit" = "Ruscha handmade" has been written very carefully on this one. I would date it to the 50s, simply because some of the old letters still remind of Sütterlin writing, like the small "r" in "Handarbeit".
You can't really see that here, but the number at the top is 712 which stands for the "Paris" design.
I couldn't find out what the marking at the bottom means because unfortunately I can't even read it clearly.

I hope you had a bit fun with our trip into the 50s!

9/13/2022

Roses

When I order beads, I sometimes throw something into the cart spontaneously, not even because I think it's drop dead gorgeous or because it immediately gave me an idea although that happens as well of course.
Actually it's meant to be a challenge for myself, and as I never know if I'll be up to the challenge, those are often sale items or small baggies.
A while ago I added four red resin roses to my cart. Four sounded like a small enough number for me to manage.

What I don't like much about bead embroidery is just glueing a cab on without giving it an extra bezel to keep it there safely. Blame that on my complicated relationship with glue. If I use a bead, I like to sew through the bead holes and immediately feel better about it.
Obviously a bezel didn't work for the roses and there were no holes, either, so I just have to trust the glue to be as sticky for them as it is for my hands.

Red always makes me think of black, and black and red together always make me think vampires and gothic vibes, so it wasn't a surprise that I chose black seed beads and matte black firepolished crystals along with the roses.
I tried around for a while, but finally found that I liked the flat background best. I couldn't resist adding skulls. I picked the grey instead of the black ones that I have because they sparkle a little more.
Voilà, my "Gothic Roses"!


A few days later, I thought about making another pair right away, not dark this time, but light and sparkly. I would have liked to make the exact same design, but the only other firepolished crystals that I had in the right size were purple/blue which definitely didn't work with red.
What I found instead were some crystal rondelles that I had bought at the craft department of a local shop for their sparkle - magpie alarm! ;-) They were in my drawer for years, but now their time had come.
Luckily I also still have some of the crystal AB skulls and don't they fit perfectly for my "Ice Roses"?


If you want to see the sparkle even better, you can check out my very small YouTube channel which I only have because I seem to be unable to convert the videos from my old camera, so not just the sound will upload on my Instagram.
I'm such a technology freak sometimes ;-)

9/11/2022

Bat Cat

I have shown you this winged creature before, my all time favorite among my friend Heather's paintings. It makes me think of Ponder and I love it so much.


It also inspired the different winged cats that I made over the years. They had wire wings in copper or silver, but after discovering bead embroidery and sequins which is easier on my hands than wire at the moment, I have fallen in love with making wings like that. I guess it was just a matter of time for a cat with bat wings to materialize.

This black cat bead came to me with a problem. The tail curling up in front was mostly missing, it looked as if it had just snapped off. I couldn't get myself to throw it away, but also didn't have an idea for it for a long time.
However, after making the Demon Guardians, bat winged skull earrings, I looked at my black cats and thought that would be perfect for them, but I would try it out with the flawed bead first.

When glueing him to the backing, I noticed a fine line across his neck, at the top of the horizontal hole. Uh-oh. Was this what I thought it was? Yup, just a tiny tug and the head broke off.
I still wasn't prepared to throw it away, though.
I glued him thoroughly, even filling the bead hole which I didn't really need with glue.  Then I made him a "fuzzy" little bat body to hide the missing tail and making him sit on the backing even more safely by sewing through the hardened glue in the bead hole.

Next were the wings.
I chose shiny black and black AB sequins for them. I had to make them smaller than I would have usually done because I hadn't left enough backing on one side, an all too familiar mistake of mine, but it's nice to have a challenge ;-)
Last I added some matte black firepolished crystals - which I had also used to cover the bead holes - at the loops for the chain and to the black crystal drop dangle.
What kind of chain or rope I will use, I haven't decided yet.

So here he is, Mister Cat Bat.
I think it was a pretty good save. Of course he won't be for sale, but I'll happily wear him myself.


Inspired by him, I made a vampire cat necklace (with bigger wings ;-)).
Meet Count Catula who will be flying across the seas soon.


8/27/2022

Der Dekan and the new photo box


It's not the first time that I'm blogging about my photo setup. The last time was for a Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival. I talked about cat hair, daylight lamps, my old camera and more. That was in 2020.
One year ago, things had changed as der Dekan discovered the light tent. He has not been able to stay out of it since then. We had some epic fights in which I tried to remove him from the tent and he tried to hold on to everything around him with his claws, including my acrylic plate.

The other day, I decided something had to be done after der Dekan had visited the light tent a few more times, this time trying to get behind the cardboard in the back, the fabric on the side and the plate. He almost came down with the whole thing more than once.
It was obvious that I needed a photo box I could close. I had a look around and found that for the box to be a bit sturdier than my light tent I would have to give up my daylight lamps and settle for light strips inside the box instead which is annoying when you use a mirror background. They all looked pretty much the same, so I finally chose one and set it up last night.


It's portable, therefore the edges hold together with velcro. Only time will tell if that will hold up to feline attacks. The two light strips kind of make the top sturdier than the old tent. However, der Dekan has already been up there twice so far, and I'm not sure if they are going to be strong enough for that, so I'm thinking about taking them off after each photo session. On the other hand, I'm also not so sure if the velcro alone will stand up to his furry butt!


Of course he's not all that happy about me taking his wonderful cat cave away, but I will put it in the other room for him to play in until he will have got tired of it which I guess may be sooner rather than later if it's not forbidden anymore.


The things we do for or because of our furry overlords, huh?
Now I have to learn working with this new box and especially the lights which I'm not all that happy about yet, sigh.
And der Dekan has to learn not to throw a tantrum about not being able to enter the new box, come running, and knocking one of my pictures off the wall! Little punk.

8/20/2022

Dawn on vacation

Still summer, still hot ... Dawn desperately needed a vacation. Other than Jessica last year, she didn't plan just a weekend stay, so some thought would have to go into the packing.


First of all, Dawn decided on doing something drastic (which even I had thought about in a weak moment the other day and that really says something).
She needed a haircut and other than me she didn't want "as much as necessary, as little as possible". She didn't want a pixie, she wasn't that brave, but a good deal had to go. There, her head felt so much lighter now and the hat fit better, too!
Dawn loves this hat because she can wear it so many ways. The brim is folded up and embellished in one spot which she can wear in front like she had seen on a Hercule Poirot episode once - even if the sun hat shown had had a much wider brim - in the back or how she finally wore it, on the side.


With temperatures like the ones we have these days, Dawn insisted on a tank top, best in a fresh color. The lime green one wouldn't have been my personal choice, but she was right after all, it worked great with the new black linen pants and her favorite old leather belt.
Just the white sneakers with the rubber soles now and she was all set.
For jewelry she chose a simple bracelet.




At first, she wanted to travel light with a small backpack - I couldn't help but point out that it reminded me very much of a grumpy face. Come on, don't tell me you don't see it, too.


Then, however, she got Granddad's battered old leather suitcase from the attic after all.
You never know when you feel like going out dancing, do you? Her favorite mini dresses went into the suitcase, however, when I asked her if she wanted to take high heels, sandals or ballerinas for those, she said her sneakers would work just fine.


I'm sure she has everything she needs, and if not, she can always go shopping.

Now an extra information about Dawn, I hope she won't mind me telling you that.
There are Topper dolls that have visible nipples and bellybuttons and she's one of them. I completely forgot to take a picture of her before she was dressed, so you will just have to believe me.


So, Dawn has left for her trip, I wonder if she'll bring me a gift back from wherever she's going to!
At least she has already sent me these pictures from one of the local sculptures ... which looks strangely familiar to me ;-)

For those who are interested in beading techniques:
- The tank top and belt are peyote.
- The pants, the sneakers (except for the soles), and the backpack are Herringbone. The "zipper" does not open, by the way, I'm a beader, not a sorceress.
- The suitcase is bead embroidered on white backing and lined with a dark blue satin fabric. The inside straps are faux suede with golden jumprings. Like for the backpack, I used two different browns to enhance the feel of worn leather. The edges and the center of the bottom are a narrow metal tape that I filed down a bit for the battered look. The buckles and hinges are golden Delica beads.

Dawn was a registered trademark of the Topper Company. I am not affiliated with Topper in any way.

8/11/2022

The hedgehog that almost got away

Yesterday I made another little hedgehog (in fact another one today, one of them will be a gift). As I have run out of the gunmetal wire that I used to use for the quills, but still have a big spool of brown wire from when I thought I wanted to crochet a tree (turned out I didn't after all), I wanted to try that for the quills.

Shortly after I got a surprise visit and showed the hedgehog. That was the last time I saw it. We are talking about 3.2 cm or 1 1/4 inch here, not something that you see easily.
I searched everywhere. Usually my desk drawer is a temporary stop for pieces, so I won't lose them before the description is written, pictures taken, etc., but not this time.
Although it didn't make any sense, I dug down to the bottom. Why would I not put it on top if I wanted to take pictures next?
I went on to check shelves, the cabinet next to me, I even looked in the fridge! I called my visitor to ask if she had accidentally taken it home.

Of course friends of mine whom I whined at were convinced that the guilty party was rather small himself, furry, striped and very quick. I have to admit that part of me thought the same thing. Der Dekan has a really hard time keeping his thieving paws off stuff lying around unguarded. Only the hedgehog wasn't unguarded at all, I really thought two people would have noticed a cat stealing something right from under our noses. He's never subtle about it, more like "Yahoo! Got it and now I'm going to kick it around like crazy and then hide it where you have to crawl in to retrieve it!"
No, I was pretty sure it had been my own stupidity.

This morning I called my visitor to tell her that I had still not been successful. We contemplated a few more possible spots when my eye fell on the cup/saucer/plate that she had brought me (and which you will hear more about in a nostalgia post eventually, sorry). Maybe I had put the hedgehog in the cup when I put it in the other cabinet (not the one I had checked)??
Nope. Not in the cup, not on the saucer, not on the plate .... but it was happily sitting right next to it!
You have no idea how relieved I was. I would have found him there maybe in a few days, weeks or months, but this was much better for my sanity!

And here are both of them together now. Is it me or is there a smug look on their faces?
Der Dekan got compensated for having been suspected, by the way. His feelings were very hurt, he thinks he's the most innocent cat in the whole world, maybe even galaxy. Oh boy.

8/03/2022

Seeing spots - A JAC challenge

What's your first thought when you hear "spots"? Mine were lampwork beads with dots, but when I checked out my stash, I found that I had used most of them, and I simply didn't have an idea for one lonely lampwork bead (yet).
My second thought for the Jewelry Artisans Community July/August challenge, however, were sequin spots on ladybugs. Now that was something I could do, even if a bead order was necessary to finish the project.

Ladybugs have turned up in my work several times, in bead loomed bracelets, earrings, even as the one polymer clay sculpture that I really like.
All of them have seven spots like the original Coccinella septempunctata, the European ladybug, a species which has also been introduced to the USA.
Have you ever seen clusters of ladybugs, in your house or on an outside wall for example? Those were probably Asian ladybugs or harlequins. They were introduced to the USA for controlling aphid populations and also came to Europe from there, but have proven to be a very invasive species. They come in different colors and can have any kind of number of spots on their elytras.
I remember seeing clusters like these twice, once on the bathroom window of a hotel room that had been left open. Luckily, the door to the hotel room itself had been closed! The other time was on a path just outside Cambridge. There were so many of them that we decided to take a different path because it would have been impossible not to step on them.

These ladybug earrings are the European kind as you can tell from the number of their spots, black sequins that sit on bead embroidered red wings.
They come on their own "leaves", an edging from matte green AB cube beads.




Challenge goal achieved! :-)

P.S. A little tip - don't spill black sequins on a black surface, especially not if it's already night. Actually, don't spill shiny black sequins at all. I spent more time than I liked with picking them off my hand with a needle because they kept clinging to it.
P.P.S. I have been thinking of making melon earrings in the same manner. What do you think, good idea or are there enough melons around already?

8/01/2022

A little hedgehog in the garden

I have never seen a hedgehog in our garden before. Maybe there has been one, but if so, it didn't show itself to me.
Today, however, we had a little guest, Geppo (Geppo is named after the alleged founder of my hometown Göppingen who was an
Alemannic chieftain).
He had to be carried from spot to spot because it was hot and it's very hard to walk long distances or even climb something if you are not even a full 1 1/2 inch!

The first stop were a few succulents, but Geppo quickly became bolder and wanted to go higher and higher!


Next stop - Mt. Angelhead!



Impressed by his own courage, Geppo's next goal was Mt. Lionhead. "I'm afraid of no lion!"


You are not impressed? Well, how about now?


After that our little hedgehog was tired, very hot and very thirsty, so a trip to the birdbath was in order.


And here are a few flowers which were too shaky for Geppo to sit on, so he had a look at them from my hand.





For those who don't know, like my other hedgehogs Geppo is a miniature crocheted from copper wire after my original design. None of my hedgehogs ever looks exactly like the other. Geppo, for example, has bronze coated hematite eyes and a sparkly crystal nose :-)

7/29/2022

Tackle that stash - Jasper and mookaite

More than four years ago I talked about jasper in a "tackle the stash" post. I told the story of the first jasper I liked and how I finally managed to make the right piece with it.
I don't know why, but mookaite - which is actually also a kind of jasper and comes from Australia - was another stone I didn't like much for a long time. I didn't use to work with earthy colors a lot and mookaite for me was always light brown together with a brownish red. Stupid me. Mookaite comes in many different colors, often combined in one stone, and so I guess it had to happen that I fell in love with it after all.

I've had these jasper donuts for a very long time. They came in a set with silver earring components and four more pairs of stone donuts. One of the components broke and so the stones were left over waiting for a new purpose. Over time, they got scattered here and there which is the reason that, after making earrings with the dark red jasper and the serpentine, I only had one snowflake obsidian and one light red jasper donut left. The other day, however, I had the luck to find the pair of picture jaspers.

My first thought was desert, my second one mookaite.
I'm really happy with the combination of the earthy jasper color and the rich red of the mookaite, and I think the gold ties the colors together neatly.


Now where are the second obsidian and red jasper ...... I know they must be here somewhere!

7/23/2022

Jewelry with a story - Part 1 .... or 3? (A random Saturday post)

Today's post was inspired by this post on Nancy's Fashion Style which I found through my friend Michelle's blog My Bijou Life (which you should check out if you are interested in fashion, but also jewelry making, quilting, and more).

As a jewelry artisan, I sometimes wonder where my jewelry ends up. Is it worn, is it loved, does it have a story - like being a gift or purchase for a special occasion - will it continue to have a story and create memories, will it be passed on to someone else, will it end up in a goodwill bin or at a fleamarket and will it find someone new there?
I will never know and maybe that's a good thing.
Where do those thoughts come from, though?

In my life I have collected quite a bit of jewelry myself. I can't remember which was my first piece of jewelry, but one of the earliest ones must have been a red coral necklace that I lost quickly if I remember right. After that came two silver pendants, a heart and a filigree flower with a pearl in the center (that I stubbornly declared to be an edelweiss). I wore the heart 24/7 for a long time until an incident caused my taking it off for good.
After that my memories get a little fuzzy until I was about 12.

For this post, I picked some of my earliest silver rings because I had remembered already having written about my most precious piece - emotional value, not monetary - but then I had the strange feeling that I had told the story of my first friendship ring before as well. Guess what, I have. And some other stories as well.
Here. Doh. I'm getting old (but at least remembered just in time).
But hey, maybe this just IS a topic for more than one post. If I only drop those memories on you every, now and then, it should be fine, shouldn't it?
And if it means that my jewelry box gets organized once again and I maybe learn something, that's a nice side effect, right?

I put my silver rings back and instead I grabbed a piece that I got around the same time and which I knew nothing about yet. Let's try to find something out together.
It's a bangle that I can't remember having worn even once.
In 1977, I was invited to spend part of the vacation in the Bavarian Forest with my friend's family. They always had rooms with the same family in a small village and also spent evenings with them, playing cards or talking. When we didn't go hiking or visit other tourist spots like glass shops in the area, the lady of the house sent us on little errands into the village to keep us entertained. She was a talented dressmaker and I remember the bolero and skirt she sewed for my friend as a gift.
She didn't make me feel left out, though. When our vacation was over, she came up to me and said she had a gift for me, too - this bangle.



While I appreciated the gift as such, I think I may have been too young to appreciate the modernist design. Also the bangle felt too heavy on my wrist, and soon it went into my first jewelry box from where it moved to the next to the next to the next ...
Every, now and then I looked at it, but always decided against wearing it because it just wasn't my style. It's quite amazing how much wear it got although it wasn't worn. Being pewter - which I'm not sure I even realized despite the marking - it also bent rather easily out of shape.
A soap bath and a bit of polishing didn't make much difference. I couldn't try the other tip I found online, to use warmed up beer, as beer is not my beverage of choice and there wasn't any.

Of course we didn't have internet back then and later I didn't even bother with a closer look at the markings ... which I did for this post, though.
There are two. One says "Dansk handarbejde" = "Danish handicraft", the other one "Løgeskov tin Danmark".
I couldn't find anything about the history of Løgeskov pewter in German or English and my Danish consists of the incredibly useful sentence "The room is big", but a list told me that Løgeskov Tin was not the only pewter jewelry manufacturer in Denmark.




What I also found were several pictures of pieces that would have gone well with my bangle, either because the design was almost or completely the same or because the same bright red glass cabochons (always my favorite part of the bangle) were used, or both. Rings, pendants, earrings, they had it all, and some pieces are even for sale on German eBay at this moment.
Moreover, I discovered that my bangle came with glass cabochons in different colors, yellow, light green, or blue, for example.

Well, I've learned something new and the bangle will go back into the chest for now, it probably has got used to it in the last 45 years ;-)

7/16/2022

A homage to needles

You probably don't remember Hannah Needle, my employee of the month in October 2020? She helped me with my HeatherCat sneakers and you can tell she was determined.
Actually I haven't been able to part with her, somehow she's a symbol of endurance to me even if I don't see that she will ever work again.


Others were not so lucky. I broke quite a few needles during my work on the sneakers and threw them out although I have to admit that I always did it saying thank you and sorry.
You think that's weird? Maybe. I'm not the only one, however, trying to express my feelings to inanimate objects that have served me well (or curse at others that are trying hard to annoy me!).
Have you ever heard of Hari Kuyō? It's a Japanese festival held for old needles, in some parts of the country on February 8, in others on December 8. It honors the Shinto deity Awashima no kami. People - mostly professional, but also hobby sewers - come to the temple to bury their needles. They give thanks and pray for becoming better at sewing in the future. The needles are placed in a piece of tofu or konnyaku jelly and sent on their last journey. The thought behind is that objects also have a soul and deserve such respect.

I had never really given needles much more thought beyond saying sorry, where and how they were produced and how many different kinds, lengths, and sizes there are.
Of course I had heard of the early beginnings of needles in the Neolithic times, made from bone, but that was about it.
I'm not going to go through needle history now, others have done that before and certainly much better than I could.
For example, I stumbled upon a German article in the 2018 annual of "netzwerk mode textil" (= "network fashion textile") about needle production in Aachen. I hadn't been aware that Aachen had been an important hub for high quality needle production, so much that they even got their own greeting from that, the "Klenkes", a stretched out little finger reminding of the way bad needles were sorted out by way of rolling them across the little finger to see if they were straight or not.

Now how did I find that article in the first place?
I had gone to eBay to look for beading needles and somehow ended up looking at vintage needles. My collector's heart fell in love with this cute pack of "Frauennadeln" (not even an inch!), literally translated "women's needles", a term that I had of course never heard before.
There are only two needles left in this pack, but look how pretty they are with their tiny golden ends! Yes, sorry, that's what collectors sound like, even if they haven't started a collection (yet).



When looking up the term, I found the article which also had an explanation for me.
"Frauennadeln" are used by dressmakers for sewing fine fabrics as apposed to "Männernadeln" ("men's needles") which are preferred by tailors for thicker fabrics, such as wool for example.
In English the long "Frauennadeln" are called "sharps" and the short "Männernadeln" are "blunts" which of course refers to the point of the needle. There is also a length between that and guess what, they are called "betweens" while in German they are just called "halblang" = "half long".
Long and fine needles with little expansion at the eye that are used in millinery or bead embroidery are called "straws" or millinery needles. I guess I won't have to explain what "darners" are. When was the last time you have darned a sock?
Last but not least, there are a lot of other needles, for upholstery or leather, sewing machine needles, also fixing or safety pins and special needles in medicine or - for us oldies ;-) - used in record players.

Of course I had also never heard of the Lammertz company, but learned from the article that Lammertz needles are treasured by their owners because of their good quality and that the shock was huge among professionals when Lammertz stopped production in 2003.

Today there are only two companies left in Europe that produce high end needles. One of them is John James, situated near London in Redditch, a name that is probably very familiar to beaders, the other one is Bohin in France which barely escaped the end in the early 2000s and now has a modern museum which keeps the history and techniques of needle making alive.

Here are some more needle packs that I got, and I have to confess that I just got another pack on eBay and submitted an offer for another one. They don't take up much space and rest comfortably between my Steiff animals.
I'll add the pictures for the other ones to this post when I get them.



This pack included in the lot doesn't have a nice picture, but Jecker was also one of the old companies with tradition.


If you sew, no matter if by hand or with the machine, you may want to take a closer look at your needles. Maybe you already have, though.
I'd love to hear your stories!

And here are the two needle packs now that I got on eBay.
Both of them still hold a bunch needles, so I can always claim that's why I got them ;-)

The first ones are DOSCO needles, made by
DOSCO Dossmann u. Co. Nadelfabrik Iserlohn in Westfalen. Except for Dossmann buying up the needle company of one of his neighbors and competitors, I couldn't find out anything about them.


I'm still trying to find out more about this tiny pack (like the Lammertz Splendor pack it's not even an inch) of Princess Victoria sharps in a size 12.
Browsing for vintage sewing needles, I have come across several Victoria packs with different pictures of Victoria.
If the name refers to an actual Princess Victoria, such as Queen Victoria's daughter or the daughter of Edward VII., remained as unclear to me as the manufacturer of the needles before they were marked PRYM (a brand that still exists today and sells Victoria needles in a combination from size 3 to 7, not in these little paper packs anymore, though, and also not silver or gold eyed anymore to "protect the environment").
Possibly the manufacturer intended them mainly for the British market and therefore used the name. On the other hand, the Queen's daughter, did become the German Empress, so who knows?

As for the differences:
Some labels are all English, some are all German (saying Prinzess instead of Princess and using the German terms for the needles, such as Frauennadeln), some are in English and German using the word "Prinzess" and "feinste", but the term "sharps", for example.
I even found a picture on eBay UK with an Italian label!

There are those without a country of origin, but also some that specify it, "Germany", "Made in Germany", "M.i W. Germany, Imp. Allemagne OCC" (those were by PRYM again), but also "Made in Czechoslovakia" or - in another example by PRYM - "Made in the Czech Republic".

Some labels look very vintage with a blurry print and much more detail, those marked PRYM, but not only them, look very modern with clear lines.

I guess these Victoria needles alone could make up a whole new collection!


Update August 1, 2022: here is my latest acquisition. Actually it's not just one needle pack, but three looking the same, and there's absolutely nothing I can say about them, except that the label designer seems to have been a fan of Greek mythology seeing that there are Hephaistos and Hermes at the top.
I did find a label with lightning - the needles were made by the Georg Printz company and called "lightning needles", but held by a hand, not by an eagle (?). It also beats me who the two gentlemen at the bottom are and what the medal in the center is trying to tell us.


Reference:
Dorothea Nicolai: Ohne Nadeln keine Theater-Festspiele - die Nadelherstellung in Aachen am Beispiel der Nadelfabrik Leo Lammertz. In: netzwerk mode textil Jahrbuch 2018 (only in German with a short English summary)