Staying at home but shopping afar; International acquisitions.
One of the items I had wanted to pick up at the Peterborough fibre festival in the beginning of March were more needles. I was running low after the felted landscape workshop and I have three sheep workshops after we all get back together (hopefully without getting sick!). I had been online looking at needle options.
So I must stay at home and shop from afar. Not quite as much fun as shopping in person.
I first looked at Amazon since I had had luck there before and noticed their needle prices were rising drastically but found one seller who described their needles as 3 sizes (20 of each) with a tube to hold them and a single needle handle. 3 unspecified gauges but obviously from the photos they were triangular needles. Well the price was not too bad so it was worth a try. The other one I ordered was a double pack of needles; 7 spirals and 7 stars. It too had gone up in price but I found the cheapest option and ordered them as well.
The 60 needles and holder arrived within a couple weeks. However, they were not quite what I was expecting. I seem to have 3 different shaft lengths of the same gauge of triangular needle. Not quite what I was hoping for but still useable.
The second purchase arrived a bit slower but was exactly the same as the cheaper ones I had bought before. There is a pack of 7 spirals and 7 stars. Both seem to be around gauge 40. Since I actually felt more by feel with the needles (the resistance as the needle enters the wool). The gauge isn’t as important when I am working but it is helpful to know when I am shopping.
Ann had pointed out a source out of China that, even with shipping, was not horribly painful. It wasn’t quite as helpful that it kept shifting from Canadian dollars to US dollars so it wasn’t a sudden price increase but a poor exchange rate that I was looking at.
From the research I had previously done on industrial needles I had read snide comments about the quality of the needles from India by some of the Chinese industrial felting companies and similar comments from some of the Indian industrial felting companies about the needles from China. Since I still am waiting for a response from the German company I can’t buy from them. While digging through one of the German companies web sites I spotted a note about new “coating” for their needles. It was to reduce breakage in the industrial machines and I am curious to see if they would have better flexibility for hand needle felters too. I would have expected experimentation in tempering but some mysterious coating sound intriguing but that will be a later needle quest if I can ever get a price list and shipping info from Groz-Beckert.
When Ann mentioned she wanted to buy Crown needles out of China this gave me the opportunity to try to acquire larger quantities of the standard needles. I wanted a length that could go into the fake clover tool needle holders I had found. Therefore, 3 inch would be preferred. Ann wanted needles but not quite as many as I was wanting so we decided to get some together. I would order and she would get some of what I purchased. Shopping! It’s always fun, but more fun with friend’s!!!
She had been searching online as well and was really wanting to try out crown needles (gauge 40). Crowns have less barbs but they are all very close to the tip. They are useful to hand needle felters as well as the industrial felters. Their working depth (the amount you have to push the needle into the fibre to engage the barbs and move the fibre) is very short. This means you don’t have to attack the felting violently, thrusting your needle into its bloodless carcass… sorry, got distracted for a moment. Maybe I’m hungry. Shallower depth of penetration has the hope of reducing strain on the joints and muscle attachment sites. Especially the medial and lateral epicondyles which should reduce irritation from epicondylitis. Secondly, at this gauge there will be less surface distortion (pockmarks like an orange skin). Looking today there are more sizes available in the crown format; 40G, 42G, 43G, 46G. The manufacturer is a Chinese company and describes the Crown felting needle as “for mohair”.
The second set of needles I ordered were just regular triangles. “400pcs/lot, 36G M333 triangular felting needles, 15*18*36*3 M333, coarse felting needle, merino wool fibre roving needle, 36 gauge”. These are good workhorse needles, great for getting core wool into shape quickly or aggressively moving fibre.
The shipping was a bit painful but overall the price was not too bad. I went with the Chinese manufacturer since I could not get a reply about prices from the Groz-brecket out of Germany. The shipping was to be through DHL. I also put in an order for more needle holders, a different type of needle holder, a drive band for my treadle sewing machine, a new awl and a veggie slicing holder (it looked like it had potential not for the veggies but for keeping needles and fingers well separated when working). Other than the two types of needles they were all coming form different sellers. Most were postal except for the mysterious three letter delivery company who were shipping the needles.
So I was unsure what was arriving when I received an all too unhelpful sticky note Thursday afternoon from UPS on the outside of my screen door left in the rain. I have been good and stayed at home so I was actually about 8 feet from the door, there was no knocking that I heard (I was not listening to Rammstein either). It very helpfully told me to go on line and pay cod charges. They had a very helpful non-human assistant who tried to answer questions but wasn’t able to tell what I was asking. My spelling isn’t that bad is it? oh and UPS says it has sent all its phone operators away due to the virus (which is good for the employees) and hangs up on me. Not helpful at all. I finally did figure out the pay online thing and went back to the tracking part of the site to see when my package would arrive. Ah, now it’s on hold. May be I should not have paid online and it would have arrived? I waited all day Friday checking the status…. Hold… No it’s still on hold, yep still on hold, hummm. I wonder where it is being held? (Kanata?) It didn’t arrive over the weekend and I started watching again Monday. At least Monday I could play Runescapes’ new skill, archeology, while I waited as it continued to say Hold. Strangely, it was there by the time Glenn got home from work. (His superior parcel skills, being a postal employee, likely helped). I went back and checked yet again on the tracking and yes it said it was delivered. Still with no knock on the door.
So now the great mystery of which parcel was this? Ah, I bet it’s the one with the needles from the DHL shipping company. Unfortunately there had been a spelling error by the time it reached me and was delivered by UPS.
(Annoyed rant you can skip this part and just go on to the next bit) I have avoided UPS after having them charge duty on second hand books which did not actually require duty. This happened on a number of undutyable items so I have avoided the greedy company since. Yes yet again did they charge extra for doing the job they had already been paid to accomplish. I don’t mind paying the 8.08 GST but I object to an extra $10.00. because their letters are now spelt UPS. I would still like to get a box of either star or twisted 38’s. I will see it they have a slower non-3 lettered delivery service. Maybe a 4 letter one like Mail? (end of rant: you can resume reading normally now)
So let’s see what has arrived in the mysterious black plastic package! It’s heavy and doesn’t rattle. It’s too small for the needle holders, too big for the drive band, too heavy for anything but the 2 boxes of needles!! (I know, I palpate packages and am no fun at Christmas!)
Opening it….. there is another plastic protective layer! Well done! the suspense is going to kill me!! (but I have cleaning wipes so that won’t be a literal statement)
Off with the next layer!!! Yes there are plastic boxes with, oh no, more (blue) tape. I could have been worse and been red tape.
Ok tape, be gone! And I figured out the tab on the end, got it open and… oh wrapped in paper, that’s good; nice and secure.
Carefully opening the paper and yes, there are needles!!!
Success I am an international needle acquisitioner!
Now is there any hope that the Woolgrowers Co-Op is considered an essential service? I had better check their web site. I only have 2 fleeces to wash as soon as it warms up a bit more. Then I could stick my hands in warm soapy water but I will remember not to agitate!