Blue corner: bristles, red corner: needles.
Bristles: pretty lightweight guys, flexibile, but impossibile to attach them onto the thread REALLY strong.
Needles: hard guys, so you even have to take the temper out a bit, but seems like a bit … heavy… wait.. wrong competitor! The new ones are just thin as bristles and not so much heavier as well.
So what is this story about?
Shoemakers need to stitch welts, soles, whatever. We use awls for prepare those stitches, as leather isn’t like fabric – this is common. Then the difference: some makers use bristles (or nylon fishing thread, guitar strings or whatever they can)) some other – like me – needles. Oh no… not those pointy straight ones, but saddle maker’s ones, or recently I could put my hand on REAL shoemaker’s needles. These are just great. I remember when I was a student, we used needles from the worts type – they were too short and thick, but at least they had big holes, so putting the thread though wasn’t a problem. (I still use that type for students). My masters mentioned something about old types of needles, not in production for decades, which were hair thin, and just great for stitching – I had one, single sample, so I couldn’t really use it for anything. Then… I found some in an old box. Not too many, but enough for me for a few years, and good to show you guys. (this time I upload high res photos)
Where did this story start? In the old times needles were not cheap like today, when industry makes them easily, on the contrary were extremely expensive (some wives got “needle-money” to make sure they can afford it), as they could be only made with special equipment, one by one… So you can imagine that shoemakers looked for something cheaper, more affordable. Hog bristles were just great. This is the original story, but as tradition is tradition, old things like this are still in practice, and you know what? Why not? Nothing wrong with it.
So let me show you what I talk about with saddle maker’s and shoemaker’s needles. (you have to make it curved for yourself)
On the top: the tiny ones, bottom: example for the thick one (relatively thick – it is around a normal stitching needle. BTW they don’t have sharp points).
Those point are almost invisible to eyes.