The sewing needle is an item that is taken for granted by most. For those of us who still do our own repairs or alterations it is purely a tool used to sew. For those who do craft it is a little bit more than that, as different sized needles are required to do different jobs. There are subtle to marked differences between the needles required for fine embroidery and those that are used to do the more robust jobs such as upholstery.
The technology of the needle has not changed in millennia in fact the only real difference between Stone Age needles and modern ones is the material used. Those early needles are made of animal born like that one displayed below, it dates back to Roman times, but is not the earliest example of these tools. It is estimated that the earliest needles dated back to 28,000 BC. These early sewing implements did not have an eye but had to slit at the top to allow for sewing with the earliest thread which usually was animal gut our sinew.
The only modification of the needle in modern times dates back to the 19 century when the first sewing machines came on the scene. Interestingly enough needles from over the ages did not survive because of the oxidisation to the metal caused them to disintegrate, however the beautiful pieces of needlework they were used to produce did.
Next time you as using a needle to craft of make up a pattern from Miss Daisy Patterns, think of the wonderful technology literally at your fingertips.
Thanks to Maureen Rose Rendell for providing the images and whose interest and expertise in the subject inspired this article.