The last week of September brings the largest Scandinavian festival in North America. Tens of thousands of people are drawn to Minot, ND, to attend Hostfest ( where they can experience the food, entertainment, and vendors from around the world. During a four-day period the population of this small city doubles. My husband and I headed there to see what all the excitement was about. Some might say that the prospect of learning more about my ancestral Swedish heritage pulled at me. That got me to thinking about a topic for today’s newsletter…..


Let’s find out a little bit about these interesting gadgets and learn how they can make our stitching experience more organized. Come to find out, if it wasn’t for magnetism we could not exist on Earth. Just like gravity, it is a force that is always at work around us even though we may not see the direct effects.

According to an article by Eric Schibener, "magnetism was one of the first power sources that man became aware of….in a naturally occurring form of a lodestone."

The lodestone is actually magnetite that possesses polarity and has the power to attract as well as to be attracted magnetically. Lodestone literally means the stone that leads.

Magnetic objects have two poles which have an opposite effect, known as "north" and "south" because they align themselves with these earth magnetic poles. Every magnet contains both poles. Even if you break it in half, each piece will have its own north and south pole. Opposite poles attract, while the like poles repel.

There are two types of magnets: Permanent and Temporary. The permanent magnet is the most common type of magnet. To be considered permanent they have to create or maintain their own magnetic field all the time. These magnets can be made into any shape. The most recognizable shape may be the red and grey painted horseshoe. FYI, it is possible to demagnetize a permanent magnet – heating it to red hot or hammering on it may do it.

A temporary magnet only produces magnetic fields when near another magnetic field or shortly after being in a magnetic field. You have probably experienced that with a needle or pair of scissors that you have left on a strong needle minder for a while. Then when you try to use it, it attaches itself to another piece of metal. I have experienced that when I am using a magnetized hammer and the nails are briefly magnetized and stick together instead of going where I want them!

One of the first commercial uses of magnetism was the creation of a compass, which is credited to the Chinese. However, we have actually been using magnetism since the beginning of man. Research is finding there are magnetic forces at work inside humans and animals. One theory is this is how birds, like the homing pigeons, can travel between points. As more experiments are done, we may find that magnetism accounts for many things in the human body including the growth and strength of bones.

This is my brief, "non-technical" version. If you want to learn more about how magnets work then I would suggest this website.


There are a lot of myths regarding magnets or their effect.

The use of magnets in the ancient divination ritual of Geomancy allowed the Chinese to create very unique patterns when the dirt was thrown down to "read". Because the dirt contained conductive shavings, it would appear to move on its own. To learn more about medieval geomancy, click here to go to a Princeton website.

According to a wives’ tale if you put a piece of lodestone under your spouse’s pillow, he/she will wake up the next day ready to tell you about any affairs he/she have had. Don’t you wonder how these myths get started?

One myth that now has been shown to have some credibility is the use of magnets and magnetic jewelry in the healthcare industry. History has shown that many cultures felt magnetic energy cured ills and enhanced health. Even, Queen Elizabeth’s doctor wrote about the healing properties of magnets. As time went along, people wanted to see the treatment working. Of course, that was impossible since magnetic fields were invisible to the naked idea. So magnetic medicine was discounted into the category of potions and elixirs from the traveling medicine man’s wagon. However, magnets have found their way into modern medicine. Today, the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) provides a very accurate way to view our inner bodies without harmful radiation. The use of magnets to relieve pain is toted by companies selling the magnetic jewelry. Studies are continuing on this subject with believers and skeptics on both sides of the issue. One recent study does suggest that a strong magnet can provide relief and aid in healing. (reference link)

Did you know that we would not experience the beautiful colors of the Aurora Borealis if it weren’t for the magnetic pull of the North Magnetic Pole? Ancient cultures thought the gods had something to do with the strange colors in the sky. Click here to find out really what causes this effect.

The effects are beautiful. Click here to see the photographs at the Alaska in Pictures website.


I found out the hard way that those pretty magnetic bracelets can cause havoc with your credit and key cards. The information on those cards is stored in a binary form with each particle set up with a north or south pole orientation. If a magnetized object comes close to the stored information, it can change the direction of particles, thus confusing the data when read. Some things that you should keep away from your coded cards are magnetic clasps on your purse, fridge magnets, the demagnetizing pads at the store, and even some cell phones.


In researching today’s newsletter, I came across this warning concerning magnets and young children. They can be a choking hazard, but it can be even worse if they are swallowed. The gist of the article is that with today’s super strong magnets, if a child swallows more than one, they don’t pass through their stomach well. In fact, they can bind themselves together, or to another piece of swallowed metal, causing internal injuries. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a statement regarding magnets. Click here to read their comments.


With all the negative press I have just given magnets, let me redeem them by telling you they are a great source of sanity for stitchers. The magnet is quite a handy gadget. Check out the ways in which magnets can make our stitching time more enjoyable.


It seems like a chart holder has been part of my cross stitch supplies since the first day I picked up a needle. It was your basic magnetic board with a magnetic strip, like the Loran board. This board can hold a larger sized pattern since it is 8" x 10". This flexible board is great for the smaller patterns since it is only 5.5" x 8.5". The SAR Prop It board makes it even more convenient because of its larger size and ability to stand up. Keep it protected with a tote especially designed for the SAR board, but other boards will fit nicely.

There are also products available that are large flexible magnetic sheets making it easy to roll up and take your project with you. For example this magnetic attraction sheet is 24" x 30" and comes with line magnets and spool magnets to keep your project on the board and your place on the pattern marked. A smaller version is available that measures 18" x 15″.


It is handy to have several line magnets to mark your place on the pattern. They can come in their natural black color such as these 12" magnetic strips or hand-painted such as these:

Pattern Tamers are a great product for marking your lines when you don’t have a magnetic board. They have magnets inside the colorful ribbon bands and your pattern goes between them. There are three sizes included to fit most any pattern or book.

You can even get magnetic line counters that have a built in magnifier such as Magnifying Magnetic Line Counter Deluxe or just the magnetic line counter with the red lines.


Put a smile on your stitching board with these adorable Chart Magnets. We had a blast playing with these gadgets when they arrived. They also make great magnets for a refrigerator or magnetic wall board. For stitching, they are good to mark your spot when you stop stitching. Some of the magnets are strong enough to double as a needle minder. Here are some options:

Whimsical Chart Magnets have the magnet behind the animal’s head and the body wiggles or coil spring chart magnets with boingy coils for limbs that keep your pattern in check.

We also have some designer, mini and dot magnets that add charm to your charts.

You won’t be able to stop playing with these adorable pull-apart magnet sets! There are two magnets in each set: the head and the body. You can take them apart and use them separately on your chart. Or keep the magnets together to hold a picture or small pattern. The hard part will be deciding which animals you want to get!


The next best way to use magnets is as a needle minder.

You can use a needle minder on your fabric whenever you want to park your needle. Reminder:

  • Don’t leave a needle stuck in your fabric when you stop stitching!
  • If you are using multiple threads, load up your needles and have them ready to go.
  • Place it next to your sewing machine to keep track of straight pins.
  • Great for other needle arts such as quilting or sewing.
  • Can double as a refrigerator or wall board magnet.

Needle minders come in two pieces. There is the decorative piece that goes on top of your fabric. It is either made from a magnetic material or has a magnet attached to it. The bottom piece is a plain magnet and it goes on the underneath side of your fabric. Keep in mind that the magnet must be placed so that the two magnets don’t repel each other. Some magnets are extremely strong so keep your fingers out of the way when they snap together. If you can’t get them apart, trying sliding one magnet off the other one. The strength of the magnet varies within each magnet so as you slide it, it may become easier to remove.

There are many different types of needle minders. Here are just a few of our choices!

Nordic Needle Exclusives Nordic Attractions needle minders, 3-Dimensional magnets are made of a magnetic resin. There are many animal shapes available!
There are also cameo type needle minders in lots of themes.

Many more styles are available. Click here to see all the needleminders.


Another use for magnets is inside a tool case. Here they can hold scissors, needles, threaders, and thimbles so they don’t move around and get damaged.

Some of the most popular tool cases are Tiny Brief Case, Needle Keep, and Designer Tool Cases.


There are two specialty tools I would like to mention before we close. There is a magnetic needle tugger that helps pull your needle through thick and thin.

Did you ever drop your needle under your chair or down the sides of the couch and then can’t find it? A handy tool is the telescoping magnetic wand. You can move it back and forth on the floor and it will find your needle for you. Or, save your fingers from getting pricked by using it between your cushions.


Of course you can get magnets just by themselves. There are several choices available including these craft magnet assortments.

WOW! What would we do without magnets? I hope this has helped provide some new ideas on how to keep organized.

We hope these "helpful hints" make your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

For those interested in using this article or others published by Nordic Needle, Inc., please use this copy when referencing the information:

“The following article was written by Debi Feyh of Nordic Needle and published in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted by Nordic Needle to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their weekly e-mail newsletter, visit A free mail-order catalog is available to you upon request if you live in the USA or Canada.”

Leave a Comment