Scissors, the cutting edge: needlepoint accessories Part 2




It is rare that a sewing project does not require a pair of scissors.

The earliest scissors are were made in ancient Egypt in about 1500 BCE. The metal used was bronze and shaped like a U with sharpened ends. In  about 100 AD the Romans designed cutting tools which looked more like the shears used for shearing sheep. It was not till the 6th century that barbers started to use what we would recognise as modern scissor. During the Romanesque period, 1000 to 1300AD  the craft of scissor makers were held in high esteem. New trades including dressmakers, cloth cutters, paper makers and other trades all required good quality scissors.

Scissors are an essential and as I have recently discovered, an ancient cutting edge technology.

 In 1761 Robert Hinchliffe of Sheffield began to cast steel to make scissors and set himself up in London to sell his durable and efficient wares. This was a major development and revolutionised the manufacture of scissors throughout the world. Go to any museum in most parts of the world and you will see exquisite examples of local variations of scissors throughout the ages, decorated, embellished and refined for local crafts, local conditions and local materials. I remember visiting  the Frederic Mares Museum in Barcelona and seeing beautiful cabinets filled with specialised tiny scissors used for the famous Spanish lacemaking.
For my needlepoint I use several pairs of scissors each for their own purpose and function:
  • paper scissors, during the design process
  • tailor scissors to cut the needlepoint canvas
  • picnicking shears ( why are they not called scissors I wonder?)  to cut fabric
  • small pointed scissors for cutting wool thread and on rare occasions, to unpick a stitch or two.

My collections of scissors is pretty utilitarian but I if you have a pair of photo worthy scissors you’d like to share, send a photo and their story. For more beautiful scissors, old and new check out eBay and scissors

I feel a new collection coming on!

Happy stitching and cutting, Barbara


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