All About Tools

Since I began working at Interweave several years ago, I've been fascinated with the tools of the fiber trade. Just inside the front door is a warped inkle loom; shuttles and spools of various ages and sizes rest up against the books on the shelves. As I walk up the stairs to the PieceWork office, I'm greeted each morning by a beautiful old spinning wheel displayed on the landing. At any given point, walking down the halls of the editorial offices, I hear the familiar hum of a ball winder neatly winding up a skein of yarn or see an editor sorting through a collection of every knitting needle size and length you could imagine, and crochet hooks, too, not to mention the stray drop spindle or rigid-heddle loom—each waiting eagerly for willing hands to pick them up and create a little magic. And just last week, a small band of us gathered together to practice our tatting; you could hear that telltale click, click, click of the shuttles echoing through the room and beyond.

Steel sewing clamp featuring an embossed fish pressure clamp, shell with red velvet pincushion, and a gilded sculpture of a child with folded hands topped with a small shell thimble holder. Photo courtesy of the Monmouth Museum.

Antique flower bud, flower petal, and leaf molds with handles and one antique cutting iron from the Arlene Baker's collection.

It's fun to work among these marvelous tools every day, but in the PieceWork office we want to know more about them—their history, their story—so we devoted a whole issue to them.

In PieceWork's March/April issue, we explore the spectrum of tools: knitting needles and their hazy history, the ancient technique of using double-pointed needles for geometric patterning, the noble tambour hook and its evolution in the world of fashion, the Bosnian crochet hook, scissors, and nålbinding needles. We've also featured some not-so-well-known tools, such as iron molds for making flowers dating back to the 1700s and sewing birds, the seamstress's third hand.

Accompanying the fascinating stories of these tools are projects galore for you to tackle. Tambour a silk scarf; knit your own version of the Chur relic purse—we supply the charts; punch needle a pin keep; Bosnian crochet a sweet beret; and more.

This isn't the first time PieceWork has explored tools. Pick up any collection of back issues on CD, and you'll discover something new about tools. This is the first time, however, that we've dedicated a whole issue to the world of tools, and we're pretty sure you're going to love it.


P.S. One tool we didn't include in our March/April issue is a pincushion. We're counting on you for that! Don't forget to enter our 2012 Excellence in Needle Arts Pincushion contest. The grand-prize winner will receive $500 in cash and will be featured in the September/October issue of PieceWork!