02 November 2009

What I did today: an Inuit-inspired needle case

Today, I embarked on a bit of an experiment. The experiment was designed to solve a recurring problem, namely the fact that I can never seem to find my metal wool needles (the big blunt tipped ones you use for sewing up or weaving in ends). It was also designed to use materials I had on hand.

Inspired by an Inuit needle case design, I worked out a strategy for creating something similar.

First, I needed a hollow bone. I have some from the lamb bones that we got back from the butcher, so I cleaned one thoroughly and filed and sanded the ends so they were smooth, and I soaked it in vinegar to get rid of the smell.

Then I needed two toggles: one that could serve as a loop for a strap, if the case was to be hung somewhere, or perhaps worn on a lanyard, and one to serve as a ‘stopper’ at the bottom. I had a lovely red bead that would be a great stopper, and a small chunk cut from another bone made a loop and stopper all in one.

Last but not least, I needed something to stick the needles through. The Inuit used a strip of hide, but that’s not something I have in ready supply. I do, however, have plenty of wool, so I knit an i-cord double the length of the bone. It’s very narrow at the base, so that it will fit through the hole in the red bead, then widens for the section that will be inside the bone, to give lots of room for poking needles through it. At the top, it narrows again to form the extension that leads up to the round loop/stopper.

The finished needle case, in closed position:


And open, to give access to the needles inside:


Yeah, I know I could buy something to suit the purpose … or I could keep my needles in the drawer (I actually do that, most of the time) … but this was a neat thing to try and I think it’ll be quite handy.

I even have enough materials to make another one, just for fun. :)

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