The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 1
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 2
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 3
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 4
The Unbroken Thread: slideshow photograph 5


Nordic Needle bits and bobs

It seems like ages since I was in North Dakota at Nordic Needle! Isn’t it funny how our holidays seem somehow separate from “real life”? Now that I’m back at school with my students I’m completely involved with them and their music making. Bringing things home from somewhere special reminds me of that place every time I use those things. Of course, the things I chose to bring home from Nordic Needle I use all the time so I’ll remember the lovely, generous people there every day!

IMG 19721 Nordic Needle bits and bobs

Before I went north to Nordic Needle, I looked at their extensive catalogue on line and knew that the one thing above all others that I had to get was a thimble. When I was in Bristol earlier this year finishing my canvaswork piece, I just about destroyed my finger while stitching the silk figure onto the stitched canvas. This little thimble is perfect for me – and maybe for you too! It’s call a Roxette and it’s a thimble that has protection for your finger over the pad, or finger-print area, of your finger. When I push a needle through I push using the pad of my finger, not the tip, so a regular thimble doesn’t work well for me. This one is just right. It comes in different sizes and each size is a different color: I needed the large and it’s a glowing green that will be impossible to lose on my worktable even when it’s a total mess!

DSCF5370 Nordic Needle bits and bobs

The thimble was a practical tool that I truly needed to ‘save my skin’ but the next thing I found is pure splurge! Nordic Needle has a small end rack with only a few stunning wooden sewing accessories hanging temptingly from the hooks. Two of them caught my eye and one of those two I decided to bring home to Germany. It’s a small, acorn shaped thimble box.

DSCF5372 Nordic Needle bits and bobs

Those of you who’ve read The Unbroken Thread for a while will remember that I stitch acorns quite a lot (I love acorns and my parent’s home is surrounded by oak trees which makes them doubly special!). This little acorn shaped box is hand turned of RocoBolo wood on Vancouver Island. There is a brass fitting on the top and the bottom so the lid screws down perfectly and it holds my new thimble! Did I need a thimble box? Nope. Do I love it and feel joy every time I see it? Yes! And I value the skill of the person who careful created this beautiful thing.

DSCF5377 Nordic Needle bits and bobs

And of course, I chose some threads to use on my canvaswork sampler. These blues and greens – all from Caron Threads- will be just right for the piece I’m working on and maybe for another one in the future.

DSCF5425 Nordic Needle bits and bobs

The pretty turned wood item you see below was something of a mystery when I saw it hanging next to the thimble box. It’s called a “Solider’s Friend”. My nephew in law and I tried to figure out what that meant and what it was but we couldn’t. We asked one of the women in the shop and she didn’t know either. She then called on Debi and she knew exactly what it was- a special kind of sewing kit for a soldier.

IMG 19522 Nordic Needle bits and bobs


The top has a small lid and the inside is hollowed out as a place for needles. The rings are where thread would be wound and the bottom is curved to be used for darning socks. Brilliant! What we couldn’t find out was when one of these would have been used: the Civil War? Revolutionary War? First or Second World War? (unlikely, I think)

If you know more about this beautiful and quirky item, would you share it with all of us please? Someday maybe I’ll own one of these Soldier’s Friends and I’d like to be able to tell my grandchildren when it was used and where it might have been carried by a solider a long way from home who didn’t like having holy socks!


Philipa ad 2 Nordic Needle bits and bobs

Hello from Nordic Needle in Fargo!

While we were at Valhalla in Minnesota, my husband expressed a wish to visit Fargo, North Dakota. There is a brewery whose beer he wanted to try and (unknown to him !) that is also the home of Nordic Needle! Of course, being a magnanimous wife I said “Of course we can drive over – it only takes a little over an hour.” So we did!

The drive was gorgeous, through rolling, tree topped hills with small fields of corn, sunflowers, soybeans and pastures of cows: the idyllic scenes of middle America at it’s best.

I walked into Nordic Needle, introduced myself and immediately Debi came out to greet me. Debi is the marketing coordinator and oversees all the print and web advertisements and promotions, as well as writes and manages Nordic Needle’s wholesale catalogs and writes the “stash” and sales bi-weekly newsletter. She asked if I’d like a tour of the whole operation and I said “Yes, please!” Debi was prepared, handing me a sheet entitled “Nordic Needle Highlights” so all the facts and figures she was about to share I could refer to for accuracy later. That way, I could enjoy the tour, take photos, ask questions and not also have to take notes. Debi is a GREAT marketing coordinator!

We started in the back, away from the retail part of the operation. And it is an operation! I always imagined a sweet little needlework shop up in North Dakota that ran a small email business on the side. Well, I was wrong! In fact, the first photo I took was of the conveyer belt that allows the truck loads of things coming in and going out to be easily moved up and down stairs.

IMG 1941 Hello from Nordic Needle in Fargo!

Nordic Needle sales are 60% mail order, 30% wholesale and only 10% in store purchases! Who would have guessed? Not me!

Roz Watnemo and Sue Meier founded Nordic Needle in 1975 with the mission of keeping the art of Norwegian Hardanger alive. If you’ve ever been to Minnesota, you know it’s full of Norwegians and Hardanger is very popular. They now stock supplies for all kinds of embroidery, not only Hardanger. Roz and Sue published their first Hardanger book in 1977, now in it’s 20th printing, and went on to publish over 165 books and produce over 70 kits.

Their inventory is kept in a huge room under the store, which Roz and Sue had purpose built in 1983. At over 9000 square feet, they still need off site warehouse storage for all the inventory. When I asked why they had so much inventory, Debi explained that thy have 19,000 different items in stock. They send to 50,000 retail customers in over 100 countries. Additionally, they send to approximately 850 stores in more than 30 countries. All from this relatively small shop in North Dakota!

IMG 1947 Hello from Nordic Needle in Fargo!

The shipping department is busy all day, every day, shipping out those orders to just about every country you can imagine! Nordic Needle has a wide choice of stitching clubs for creating beautiful projects. Some clubs have kits sent out monthly and others less often. The clubs are open to anyone who lives anywhere so you can imagine how busy the shipping department is, even without those 50,000 customers ordering bits and bobs! ( The “Sheperd’s Fold” stitch club is really beautiful…like I need another project! But it’s so sweet!)

IMG 1943 Hello from Nordic Needle in Fargo!

At the top of that conveyer belt the plastic bins get lined up throughout the day to go to the post office, UPS and any other shipping companies Nordic Needle uses. Everything they stock is available online and can be seen in their online catalogue at It is an extensive collection of threads, fabrics, accessories, tools and just about everything you have (or haven’t!) thought of for needlework.

IMG 19491 Hello from Nordic Needle in Fargo!

In addition to running an amazing company, Rox and Sue employ 25 people and contribute to the local economy of Fargo. They have gained many awards, including Outstanding Women in Business, US Small Business Administration Lifetime Achievement Award, Zweigert Outstanding Support Service Award and the Anchor Golden Needle Award for one of Roz’s Hardanger designs.

Their Sunday evening newsletter has over 45,000 subscribers – that’s almost half the number of people in the whole town of Fargo! And if you ever get the chance to visit in person, GO! Everyone there was so friendly, so interested and helpful!

IMG 19721 Hello from Nordic Needle in Fargo!


After the tour, I had to take some time to go shopping and my dear husband and nephew-in-law were happy to wait while I chose some special things. I’ll tell you all about that next time and share with you a literary link to Nordic Needle!

In the meantime, check out all the thousands of things (many I’d never heard or even thought about!) on their web site here.



Philipa ad 2 Hello from Nordic Needle in Fargo!


Home – and Away again!

We’ve really just gotten home, are still feeling the effects of jet lag, missing family and friends and now we’re going away again!

Why? To see the Luzine Happel’s exhibition Nobel and White in Eschwege, Germany. I am so lucky to live only 3 ½ hours by car from Eschwege so driving over on Friday afternoon and coming home on Sunday is easy enough. And we’ve found what looks to be a lovely Air BnB with a beautiful garden in Eschwege so the trip will be wonderful all round!

Ausstellung 2014 1 500x332 Home   and Away again!


I’m looking forward to seeing the crowns that will be displayed. These are discussed more here on Luzine Happel’s web site.

Ausstellung 2014 2 500x332 Home   and Away again!


My own Schwalmwork table cloth is coming along slowly. I took it to the USA but didn’t work on it at all. Up at the lake I figured it was too likely to get dirty and when I was with my family I was so busy talking to them I didn’t take much time to stitch. I will work on it a bit more this week and perhaps take it with me to show Luzine how far I’ve NOT gotten.

Ausstellung 2014 3 500x332 Home   and Away again!

I’ll be sure to take lots of photos so I can share the exhibition with all of you who live farther away than I do – I imagine that’s most of you in fact!