Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Accidental Collections: Needles and Threads
Another collection of haberdashery related objects I inherited is this collection of assorted needles, spools of thread and empty spools. These needles are as they were left by my grandmother, who kept them all in an old cheese cracker tin. I am certain that some of the needle packets and the fancier threads were rescued from the sewing rooms of the two great houses she worked in later in her life. My grandmother was a strictly utilitarian seamstress.
The box of darning needles is an old cardboard package of hypodermic needles, that likely belonged to one of my great-grandmothers, who was a diabetic. In the days before disposable needles, she sterilized and reused the needles she used to inject herself with insulin.
Many of these empty spools are from thread companies and stores long gone by, such as Belding and Eaton's - the spool above must be from when Eaton's still had a haberdashery department. There are also spools from Zeller's, Corticelli, Peerless, Trimtex and J & P Coats (the only company that I believe is still in operation). If you look carefully at the labels you will notice that some of the spools say Made in Canada. I love some of the labels - Dewhurst's Sylko "Three Shells" Machine Twist. And yes, that is Butler's unwaxed dental floss, on a wooden spool!
There is an array of different types of thread: darning silk, silk-like nylons, mercerized cotton, and the dreaded 1950s invention, polyester. Below is an array of coloured threads in varying weights for machine sewing, darning silk, button-hole twist, rayon thread, embroidery and crochet cotton and silk.
I use these threads quite sparingly. I keep them in glass jars in my studio organised according to colour because I just like to look at them. The thread seems so special when it is wound around a wooden spool.