Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's a bodkin

What's a bodkin?

Well, besides being the name of a rock group (for real), the little silver tool I couldn't for the life of me identify - or even imagine its use - is called a bodkin.

Yep, I have it on good authority.

First, my sister, Edie, called.  "I think what you have there is a bodkin," says she, a long-time needleworker with an online sampler business, McIntosh Samplers, specializing in counted cross-stitch reproduction antique samplers, books on historical needlework, and quality needlework accessories.

I should have known to consult her first.

"Okay," I replied. "But what does one do with a bodkin?"

She suggested I Google it to learn more, but added she's pretty sure that's what it is and that a bodkin is a centuries-old tool, used primarily for drawstrings, and that there are very fancy decorative ones made of wood, ivory, and so forth.

In addition to a stitching tool, according to Wikipedia, they were used as personal adornments. In the 1600s, artist Wenzel Hollar (1607-1677), did a famous etching of a woman with a bodkin in her hair.

In my example, the one from my mother's collection of stitching tools, the bodkin has two "eyes" - one at each end. But more commonly, they have only one eye and the opposite end is finished, rounded, or sometimes embellished with decorative carvings or jewels.

I took my little tool to The Attic, my favorite needlework store in Mesa. It's actually the only needlework store in Mesa, but that's beside the point. Needlework stores are a dying breed and are closing left and right. So sad.

Anyway...I asked needlework expert, Sandy, if she knew what this tool is.

"Of course," she replied instantly. "It's a bodkin."

She described its use, saying you would need one mainly to make drawstring bags or purses. You would, she explained,  thread one end with ribbon or cording, insert it into the opening, and draw it through to the other end, moving it along as you go.

"Most needleworkers would have one," she continued.

Hmmm, I thought. Not sure when I would actually use a bodkin.

But isn't it great to know I have one?