It's February 8 . . . Mark your calendars!

Everybody's talking about something . . .

and it isn't what's for dinner,

or the weather,

or the miracles of modern stain removal,

or the economy,

or the latest technological advances,

or the unbelievable antics of their adorable cats,

or what they did over the weekend,

or even Jessica Simpson's weight gain,

it's . . .



it . . .


But they're so small! Why would people be talking about needles?

I know, right?

Because it's February 8, and thanks to Marjorie, I recently learned that it's the Japanese festival of "hari-kuyo" -- literally translated as "needle memorial service."

Basically hari-kuyo is a religious festival born out of an enormous respect for daily objects, particularly objects of work, and is thought to be hundreds of years old. If a needle broke, the seamstress would save it until February 8, when it would be taken to a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple where they would lay their needles to rest in something soft like tofu, make offerings of thanks for the service of their tools throughout the year, and pray for improved sewing skills and fewer broken needles in the year to come.

Burial with full honors for broken needles and bent pins!

I think it's amazing, because without needles, where would all the women be who devoted untold hours of their lives to making things like this

very old hand-pieced quilt block

for their families' warmth and comfort,

vintage dish-towel

vintage dish-towel

vintage dish-towel

the beautification of their homes,

vintage hot pad

and perhaps most importantly, their own sanity?

How do you think I came to be a needleworker?

I stayed home raising three children, of course.

So without needles, my life would be very different. Because learning to use a needle is the place I started. There would be no Small Works, no quilts, no life in crafts at all. And there would probably be a lot of bald patches where I would have torn my hair out over the years. I'm not sure what I'd be doing now, but I would have missed out on a whole lot of soul-feeding in a lot of tiny stitches.

Next time I break a needle, I'm going to show increased respect.
(or at least not swear.)


Jake and Chelsea said...

you know those flower ladies are my most favorite of all.

do you know if japan has a cuticle cutter appreciation day?

I'm getting excited for baltimore! And way to go for putting that little poster up here! you are so tech savvy!

susan m hinckley said...

I'm having fun cropping out little pieces from my work, and when I isolated those flower ladies, I was delighted to see that it really did look like they were having a conversation!

And did you notice I finally figured out the badge for the sewing blog list? I guess your little student is growing up.

I think a cuticle cutter appreciation day is definitely in order, because I've never been able to find another one I like as much as the old old old one I got in high school, and someday it's going to be gone. What shall we call said holiday?

april said...

oh, susan, i've missed you. sorry it has taken me soooo long to get back to reading your blog. i swear every post is a masterpiece. i've read the past 5-6 posts and here are my comments:

*love the reminder of appreciating the simple things in this post. the sock monkey is divine and made me very happy that i just purchased flannel sock monkey print to make a baby quilt for my friend. (unlike the kleenex people, i think you have fabulous taste.) 2X4 parenting comments just made me smile. glad i'm not the only one willing to admit those feelings - and i'm not even to teenage years yet.

*sorry about home companion; sorry they missed their chance to feature you. i might get quite a few smiles out of that glued nostrils comment and must ask if you watch "burn notice." pat's been watching the episodes on hulu and might just force me to watch it now that he knows you like it. (i'm not opposed to watching it; just usually prefer going to bed.)

*pat exclaimed: "that's grandma folsom!" when he saw your superbowl lime jello. enough said.

*i'll look forward to meeting your grandpa kenneth and aunt lillie (love the name) someday. i'm sure i'll still have some bad habits that i'll need your grandpa to set me straight on and who couldn't use a friend like lillie?

don't think i ever mentioned how much i liked russ' christmas gifts this year. they were fantastic. that's about all i've catched up on. i'll keep reading until i get through january. don't want to miss any of your masterpieces.

oh, and we will be in baltimore too. look forward to seeing you.

susan m hinckley said...

April! So good to hear from you! Comments about your comments:
1) Grandma Folsom of course immediately came to my mind as well. Who can forget tomato-raspberry jello with avocado dressing? I actually had an email from someone who was making it for an office potluck -- can't wait to hear how that went!

2) Burn Notice = new obsession (actually, I got hooked last year and then hooked my family)

3) I'm endlessly flattered that you would read my back posts -- thank you!

4) Don't glue your nostrils shut.

5) Looking forward to seeing you soon!

judy coates perez said...

Oh my gosh what a wonderful tradition. And here I have been saving all my broken needles in an old plastic film canister.

VO said...

Susan, I'm a long-time lurker here and this post was one I HAD to comment on.

Feb 8th is my birthday. I've been celebrating my birthday with the same husband for almost 30 years now. I'm a needleworker: bead embroidery, knitting, sewing, some felting.

I behaved myself on my birthday because I did not needle my husband for giving me slippers, a mini flashlight, a screwdriver with (count 'em) 6 interchangeable heads and a bookstore gift certificate.

I softly laid down the urge to needle (and bury a knitting needle into him) so I do think I observed hari-kuyo.

So I'm posting to say how much I appreciate you posting about the festival. It also tickles me that my mom (before she came to the states) was a practicing Shinto. Must be in the genes eh?

btw, I love, love, love your work and it gives me a lot of inspiration. And your blog is one of the more entertaining blogs on the planet!

susan m hinckley said...

Hey, VO -- thanks for finally breaking your silence! Good job on not stabbing your husband on your birthday -- might have led to painful memories later. I love my screwdriver with 6 interchangeable heads (I've worn it out!) but thank goodness I bought it for myself. Now a bookstore gift certificate could be good, IF it's big enough to have fun with. Bless their hearts -- if they DO try and that's all they can come up with, we have to feel sorry for them, don't we? And if they DON'T try, then we have a right to feel a little cranky, especially after 30 years. I think your observation of hari-kuyo was inspiring.

VO said...

I did wonder for a very short moment if the interchangeable screwdriver would help me get out of jail.

He is very lucky he did get me a gift cert that is worth a bunch of fun for me. :-)>~

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