Needle Books

This post is long overdue to the point where I was sure I had written it already.


I’m the kind of person who likes to have something to work on in and amongst the minutes ( or hours ) of a day where you really maybe can’t do much else but sit and wait.  Driving in a car ( as a passenger ), riding the ferry ( I live on an island and spend more than my share of time in ferry line ups and riding in the vessel). In the boarding lounges at airports and even hours spent on an airplane.  I take great satisfaction from having something in the works that I can pick up and put down ( as the case may be)  ,even if I’m waiting at the dentist or heaven forbid,  time spent in a doctors office.

I’ve been exploring the world of painting the last few years , but sometimes it’s just not feasible to do that kind of art in the nooks and crannies of my comings and goings.  Time spent in the studio is carved out for when I’m at home.

I’ve written before , here, about adapting the needle book into a business card holder as a great idea from an on line friend over a year ago. But of late I’ve been focusing mostly on hand sewing needle books, sometimes called ‘needle keepers’.

They are such a perfectly portable project. In all the travelling I’ve done in the last year or so, I’ve made more and more of these ‘books’ and have started to see them in a different way.

What I realized about the concept was that I see each unstitched piece of wool felting as a blank canvas.  A place to create any form of imagery that came to mind.  I realized that there are never two alike , and that I never tire or lack inspiration about what image to create.  And that each and everyone becomes special as it’s own unique story unfolds.

There was intrigue in the design process , satisfaction in the stitching process and pure fun to see a small functional item come to completion . My vision for them is to see them being enjoyed over and over, passed from generation to generation with their own unique and memorable composition on the outside ‘cover’

And I just can’t stop making them.


Starting with choosing the backdrop from a palette of wool felting, then poking around in my stash of buttons for just the right size and shape.




Playing around with placement of buttons is where the design starts to unfold , and then the final image is stitched.

Button ArtThese needle holders aren’t a new concept.  Google needle books  and you’ll find them and the patterns for them everywhere, but for me the joy has been in the realization that I let my imagination use the buttons in my button box to make each and every one different .

Mine always have an outer layer backed by a coordinated second layer , and have one inner ‘page’ for storing pins and needles .  Most are small and portable ranging from 2 x 3 inches , up to around 3 1/2 ” x 4 1/2 “.

DSC_8917 DSC_8919 DSC_8918

And I see each one as a tiny work of art .

 I’m never bored with the process because the colours and design are always changing.

Like this one where I tried adding a bit of text and some loose threads for pony tails.  Why not.

DSC_9020Anything is possible with embroidery stitches . And recently I was curious to see if using a French knot would work for adding dimension to make little sheep grazing on a hillside.


I love using my square buttons like small houses.


And I recently travelled to Portugal in May of this year.   I’m sure I was influenced creatively while I was there. By the landscape, the food and the amazing people.   The history of explorers setting off to discover other lands when they weren’t sure if the world was round or not. I have no doubt that trip set me off on the vision for this one . A person waving farewell ?  Or welcome home ? And of course a cardinal bouy as a warning.


And here is one that is being worked on at the moment


I added the tiny bumble bee just for fun. Surprises like this keep me interested and curious to see what pops up on the ‘canvas’.

I have them listed on my etsy shop if you’re interested in taking a look at the whole gallery to date. Some of them have already found their way to other parts of the world .  Hopefully happily helping someone keep their needles and pins close at hand.

There are more on my work table and some set up and ready to go for an upcoming trip I’m taking where there will definitely be time spent waiting in airport lounges.  So pop back to the shop occasionally if your curious to see what has been under construction . And feel free to use any of these designs as inspiration.

I believe in hand made.  I believe in quality and I believe we can use our imaginations to make art that is unique to us in more ways than there are hours in the day.

8 thoughts on “Needle Books

  1. Oh my gosh Sandy…these are adorable!!! A needlebook was the very first thing I ever made with my Nana so they are so special to me. My favorite is the little girl at play.

    • Hi Michelle :)…Such thoughtful praise. Thank you! Yes, not a new concept, but when I saw every one as a place for me to ‘draw’ with stitches , I was hooked. Every one is truly a canvas for me to play with stitches, and what can be more relaxing than that!
      And so sweet to hear that your special Nana left you with that beautiful memory. The little girl at ‘play’ was off to a new home a few weeks ago, but I left her in the blog in case anyone ( you ??? 🙂 might be inspired to use her for a design of your own. You’re an expert but if you need any information , don’t hesitate to ask.

  2. These are very well done. You’re were right when you said there are a lot of needle books out there, but yours stand out amongst the rest! I am particularly enamoured with the sheep one.

  3. These make my heart sing just looking at them – I so wish I could touch them! I’ve been looking for a journal/notebook stitched or leather bound cover and I can visualize these as a journal cover (with insert for journal or notebook). Do you think you’d make one that big? 😉

    • Hi Shari; What size of journal or notebook do you usually use ? I’ve done some in the past and was very pleased with how they turned out. Are you on instagram ? I can tag you on the ones i’ve done so you can take a peek.

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