Work, Work, Work 76.

A bit further on today. Total Hours: 1,075. Skeins Used: 158. Oh, and I heard that Hedgehog Handworks was closing, and unfortunately, it’s true. That’s a bit of heartbreak. I did manage to grab 2 more beeswax hedgehogs (oh, they smell glorious. Makes your day better having a huffable hedgehog) and a couple of packs of Bohin 22s. Probably be a bit of a wait for them, but that’s okay.  Like all arts, embroiderers have specialist gear and tools, and there’s often lively debate over the best this or the best that. Needles, of course, come up often. While there are different viewpoints as to the best, Bohin always comes out at or near the top. Fabulous French needles. Click for full size.

© C. Ford, all rights reserved.


  1. says

    When I was reading about Singer’s sewing machines, there was some mention about needle-making. Now, pins are pretty straightforward: smash wire at one end, sharpen other -- but needles -- apparently needles took something like 27 different steps to make them and fully polish them.

  2. says

    Used to be, when it came to needles for handwork, you didn’t need to look any further than “fine English needles”, but there’s no such thing anymore, really. The needlemaking has been outsourced. The majority of needles anymore easily snap, bend, and have multiple flaws, burrs, nicks, and so on.

    Bohin is one of the oldest needlemakers who still actually make their needles. You just would not believe what it’s like using one of their needles. Most people just assume all needles are the same, but they couldn’t be more wrong.

    That hedgehog is huffable! There are times when I’m working away, and just pick it up, open the case, and have a good huff. It’s like breathing honey.

  3. Dunc says

    Caine, @3: Yeah, I recently picked up a mixed pack of John James betweens from a proper tailor’s supplier, and the difference between those and anything I’ve found in a high-street craft store or haberdashery is significant.

  4. says

    Dunc, John James were the highest rated needles for ages, but now they get the most complaints. They are no longer made in England, they are outsourced, and the quality is awful. People who still have packs from the pre-outsource days hoard them like gold.

  5. Dunc says

    Interesting… Like I say, I got these from a proper tailor’s supplier (not the JJ website), plus the packaging looks a bit different, so it’s possible that they’re from old stock.

  6. says

    Dunc, I’ve been told the way to tell is whether or not the packaging has ‘made in England’ on it somewhere. I have an old packet of Hemming & Sons, which has the ‘made in England’ on it, but a packet of them I bought a year or two ago has “assembled and inspected in EU using needles imported by Entaco to our quality and specification.” I’ve heard that Entaco now has John James as well. If you have a source for the James actually made in England, you might want to snaffle them all up.

  7. Dunc says

    Yeah, I’ll have a look and see if the envelope actually has “Made in England” written on it… (It does have the size range written on it by hand in blue biro, so it’s not standard retail packaging. I’d guess they’re generic envelopes which are filled from bulk stock.) Regardless of their precise provenance, they’re very noticeably better finished than any other needles I’ve ever handled -- although TBH that’s probably not saying much, since I’ve only recently come to an appreciation of such details.

    I can definitely confirm that JJ is now owned by Entaco -- it says so on the website.

  8. says

    There was a long discussion about English Needles here. A lot depends on what you’re using a needle for -- lightweight sewing use, you’re not likely to notice minor flaws as much or experience snapping or bending. It’s damn nasty when needles break, and I’ve had it happen too many times, which is why I just get Bohins anymore. Embroiderers put heavy use on their needles, and the tiniest of flaws are noticeable, and can easily fuck up your material or your thread, especially when you’re working with silk.

  9. says

    It’s a true shame. English made needles have been the finest in the world for centuries, and part of the rich history of Opus Anglicanum.

  10. says


    Now, pins are pretty straightforward: smash wire at one end, sharpen other

    Actually, that’s not so. Bohin also makes pins, and they are a fine, fine product. Cheapshit pins are awful, prone to breakage, often dull, and seriously flawed with burrs and surface cracks. Cheapshit pins can seriously fuck up your fabric, and they should never be used. Good pins are worth their weight in gold.

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