Pam Turner grinding pieces of wire to make needle points.
Never struggle to thread a needle again!
I remember laughing as Mom struggled to thread a needle.
Squinting to see through the glasses that rested crookedly on the bridge of her nose, she trimmed the end of the thread, sucked on it, failed to get it threaded, re-trimmed it and jabbed it at the needle’s eye a few more times. Dropping her needlework to her lap she would curse, “We’ve been to the moon! Why can’t we fix the needle?” Eventually she would break down and ask one of us laughing kids to thread it for her.
I easily slipped three threads of embroidery floss into a needle’s eye.
In 1976, while sitting at Mom’s feet, we giggled at her inability to thread her needle. Such a very happy memory of a mother daughter bond that had been passed down for generations for most families. Mom died before finishing that big Bi-centennial embroidery project she was doing with my help, so that memory has always been especially sweet.
Then one day 30 years later, I just wanted to sew on a button when my Mom fell out of my mouth…”We’ve been to the moon! Why can’t we fix the needle?” And it wasn’t so funny. In fact, I was near tears. A simple everyday problem. And no one had fixed it? It had been thirty years since I had laughed about it. As if a bolt of lightning hit the ground behind me, I realized there is nothing wrong with the human condition. The needle was just poorly engineered.
Mom was shouting to me: Needles should have a slot on the side of the eye!
Certainly someone had to have solved this problem. I went shopping. All sorts of needle threading gadgets hung in the store aisle and I bought a package of “Self-threading” needles with an opening at the end of the eye. While “Self-threading needles” were certainly easy to thread, they shredded my thread and the thread came out every time I pulled on the stitches. “So much for self-threading needles!” I tossed the package into the trash. No more waiting for someone else to fix it. It was up to me.
And in that moment my life changed forever.
What’s so special about Spiral Eye Needles?
Spiral Eye Needles have a slot in the side of the eye. This makes it easy to thread. And, it stays threaded.
None of the needle manufacturers wanted my Spiral Eye needle idea.
They said there was no need for one because “No one bought the self threading needles we already make.” I thought…”Of course not…they don’t stay threaded.” I was positive they would change their mind if I made them a prototype. So I made one. I ground a point on a piece of wire using a slow wet grinder and a Dremel. I then used the Dremel to grind out the shape of the inside of the ey and I folded the “eye” section to make the actual eye.
If I was going to fix the needle I wanted to fix all of it.
Not just the eye needed to be changed. Spiral Eye Needles would be made in America. . . out of surgical grade stainless steel (so it would not kick up nickel allergies and would not rust).
Obviously my primitive prototype was not going to be the final solution, but it gave me credibility as being serious about my endeavour. I told anyone who would listen I was going to change the world with my invention. Because I truly believe that. I kept thinking of the older women in poor countries in humid climates without electricity whose value to their society was sewing. They needed my needle. I could give a simple pleasure back to women with vision issues and shaky fingers. And it would have made my mom Happier…that was important to me. Mom’s should not cry over not being able to do a simple task.
Finally, I even found a company to make the tooling to make my needle professionally. I quit my “real job” October 1 2007 expecting the promised 30,000 needles on October 7th. Well, that did not happen. And I questioned my sanity many times as I sought out someone else who could make my needle.
Fortunately I found a wonderful, family run machine shop, Unity Tool, also known as Unity Precision Manufacturing. They had the ability and the willingness to take a huge risk with me and put the Spiral Eye into pieces of wire so I only had to put the points on them.
When I managed to get a booth lined up at the Minnesota State Fair I was still hand grinding the points of my needles. By the time the fair was open, Unity Precision Manufacturing had invested in equipment and was manufacturing the eye and the point of my needle.
At the Minnesota State Fair in 2008, I only sold one size needle. Attached to popsicle sticks (It was the fair after all). Over the years I have listened to my customers as they told me what they needed. I currently offer 16 sizes of Spiral Eye Needles as well as all the other needles and products I sell under “The Needle Lady” brand.