Hari-kuyo: Festival of Broken Needles

Today’s reading in 365 Goddesses is on Wakahiru and Hari-kuyo, the Japanese Festival of Broken Needles.  Doing a little more research, I came across this idea at the blog of Debbie Bates,  Stitchtress Stumbles 

Further to the idea of laying the needles to rest for good service is the idea that women have many secret sorrows in life. These sorrows are often passed to the needles during long hours of stitching and the needles are thought to take on the burden of some of these sorrows, thus taking them away with the stitching that they do. This “rest” is brought to the needles in appreciation for their faithful service.”

As a knitter and stitcher I spend a lot of time thinking about the person for whom I am making something. It’s a kind of magical intent, working loving thoughts and hopes into a simple object like a scarf. My needlework has busied my hands during hours spent working out problems, worrying about children and aging parents, thinking of ways to stretch a small paycheck over large bills.  Taking up the needles and threads automatically slows my breathing, soothes my thought processes, slows my heart rate.

Often I feel connected across generations of women working by candlelight and firelight, engaged in the small, mindless, yet vital task of keeping their family clothed. I think of the first woman to take a colorful thread and work a decorative pattern into the garment of a loved child and of the worn hands of women darning yet more socks.

I have a special appreciation today for my beloved needlework tools. On my altar today, I arrange a jar, not of wildflowers, but of knitting needles I’ve collected, a scissors fob embroidered with a busy bee, and a small jar of colorful orts, those snipped ends of threads from a hundred replaced buttons, knitted scarves, and samplers.

It’s the simple things in life you treasure.

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