Hoppo Bumpo (n): A children's game. Played by folding one's arms and hopping on one leg. Aim is to bump opponents, so that they lose their balance. Last person standing wins.

June 27, 2008

The curious case of the missing needle

This week I had my very first broken sewing machine needle.

Some say that you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. So perhaps I haven't been trying hard enough. Do the really clever sewers out there break needles regularly? Perhaps, I have been playing things a bit too safe.

Anyway, it took me by surprise. One moment pedal to the floor, the next an alarming sound and a piece of fractured shank. I was sewing a bit of calico. It felt a bit like breaking a tooth on a piece of soft white bread. A little bit incongruous but entirely possible - just ask my dentist.

So I looked about for the remainder of the needle. On the table? No. On the floor? No. I vacuumed just in case, but nothing turned up (can't be too careful with my human Hoover Bargy about). Then it occurred to me. It must have dropped inside the machine.

What to do? Well I should imagine most normal people would get out their accessories kit, locate the screwdriver and perform a little operation to look around the bobbin case. What did I do? Looked for the accessory kit (hmmm, where did I put those things?), tried a different type of screwdriver (too big) and then gave up. Actually, before I gave up, I picked up the machine and gave it a good shake and then a thump. Why? I'm not too sure, but I am a huge fan of the holistic properties of percussive maintenance.

At the end of all of this the machine still worked and the needle fragment seemed to have taken care of itself. I don't know where the heck I thought it had gone. Maybe it joined 14 single children's socks that I am currently trying to locate. Disappeared into the ether. As the machine still worked I decided the best idea was to blank the incident and move on.

But then, of course something happened. A couple of nights ago, I started sewing and my poor machine let out a yelp. Beep, beep, beep it complained. The needle and bobbin worked themselves into a fit of pique and produced a tangled mess. The dogfeeds chewed up the fabric and sucked it into the machine. Dire. After a many attempts to rectify the situation and lots of words that would make a sailor blush, I decided to enlist the aid of Mr Hoppo Bumpo.

How long would I be able to pass off the pretence that I had no idea what the problem was? How could I admit that I had knowingly left a great lump of metal inside a finely tuned machine? So as my very technical Mr Hoppo Bumpo set about to solve the problem from first principles, I felt a little guilty. Eventually he opened the machine (of course he was able to find the correct screwdriver) and found the missing shard wedged firmly beneath the bobbin case. When I 'fessed up, he seemed a little incredulous about how a needle could have been in there for such a time. Anyhoo, problem solved.

Its got me to thinking though. If Mr Hoppo Bumpo were to open the washing machine, would he find 14 missing children's socks?


  1. Hahahaha! Perhaps the socks are at my house - because I think I have about 22 single socks that need a friend... as for that needle half it is probably floating around inside the bottom of the machine, where it can't do any harm.

  2. If I'm going to break needles at all, I'll break 2-3 on the one project. You'd think I'd pause after the first needle breakage to reflect if I am pushing my machine too hard and should to either not stuff so much fabric through, or perhaps change my needle. But it generally takes an additional TWO needle breakages before I start to think "Hmmm.. maybe it's too much?"

    And don't even get me STARTED on socks. My partner and I own SO MANY SOCKS but after their first wear they end up pairless. Even the trick of buying 5 pairs all of the same colour doesn't seem to work. I'm yet to find a solution.

  3. We have a sock monster that lives at our house - only likes to eat one of each sock and then refuses to eat the pair!

    As for needles - I break them all the time - here's a tip from me - don't sew over pins - it can damage the needle!

    Happy Sewing and Happy Sock Hunting!

  4. That's funny....I nearly was hit in the eye the last time I broke a needle (luckily I wear glasses). I didn't realise sewing was an injury afflicting hobby. I seem to be missing some socks too...must be time to make sock puppets with the odd ones again!

  5. Hee hee, I loved this story! I live with three males too, and I am always defeated by the sock monster. Last year, when my son started school, I bought 10 pairs of identical navy blue Bonds socks and it has worked a treat, so from now on I think I am going to insist that each guy sticks to a single sock range, that way it doesn't matter if a few go missing and I will save HOURS a week in sock-sorting time!


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