HSF 19 – Wood, Metal, Bone: Needles and pins in bone

For this challenge, which is the first challenge I’ve finished in time since, well, the beginning of the year, I realized that my UFO needle case would fit like a hand in glove.

Link to introduction

Link to introduction

It’s a needle case, or more directly translated a needle house, inspired by the needle houses from the Sápmi area. This again is a historically inspired project. If you want to see the originals, this link takes you to the Digital Museum of Sweden. As far as I’ve seen, the earliest ones have been sold or donated to the museum in the 19th century, so it’s within the time frame of the HSF. The use of them can well date further back than the 19th century though. And, most of these images are from a large museum in Stockholm, not from museums in Sápmi…

My project differs a bit from the originals, though you can see that there’s quite a range in the originals as well (and all of the challenge materials are present in the originals). I had thought to incorporate a carved piece of wood too, but in the end I didn’t, due to the immediate lack of available wood…

Workspace and work in progress

Workspace and work in progress

But I had access to some metal, and my own fat-tanned reindeer skin/leather, and a dyed and engraved sheep-bone that I’ve made in the tanning course I took some years ago. The sheep-bone was always meant to be a needle house. All I needed to do was to twist the leather into a string, and add a stopper (metal ring) and a piece of wool fabric to fasten the needles in. Unfortunately the fabric piece got too thick for the sheep-bone when folded double and being neatly attached to the leather string, so I had to cut it up and resign myself into having it a bit smaller than I first intended it.

The finished case/house (closed)

The finished case/house (closed, protecting the needles inside the bone)

In the end, where I thought to put a carved wood figure, I instead put another piece of bone, dyed with indigo. The house part is dyed by boiling the bone with onion shells. Then I just made the pattern by taking a needle to the dyed bone. This was also done during the class.

The needle hous opened

The needle house opened, showing the needles on the wool fabric

There are some differences in material to the originals, as this is sheep bone and not reindeer antler. Also, I’ve not seen dyed needle houses. And I’ve seen impressive engravings on the originals! So this is once more a historically inspired piece, including metal and bone.

Half-opened or half-closed? It's in the eye of the beholder.

Half-opened or half-closed? It’s in the eye of the beholder.

Housing the facts:

The Challenge: Wood, Metal, Bone

Fabric: A small piece of wool

Pattern: None. Excepting the engraved pattern…

Year: The original needle houses were acquired by the museum in Stockholm in the 19th century onward. The use of needle houses could be much older.

Notions: Sheep bone, reindeer skin, metal bent to a ring, onion shells and indigo…

How historically accurate is it? As I said, it’s more historically inspired than accurate. Though it is historically possible.

Hours to complete: Quite many, if you consider the time it took to prepare the notions. In actual work time now as a challenge, well, perhaps 1-2.

First worn: Not yet. My last needle house was dropped accidentally in a forest (together with a needlebinding needle in bone which I had worked hours and hours on to get as thin as I wanted it) and I couldn’t find it, so I’ll have to make sure it sits very well on a belt before I’ll wear it!

Total cost: All stash.

And since this project contains bones and leather: These animals lived happy lives before they died. It’s not meat-factory left overs.


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Filed under Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge


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