Probably the very first thing I ever made on a sewing machine was a scunchi.* My sister at the time played high school tennis, but cheap, cute shorts with large pockets were hard to come by, so she made a bunch of shorts. This was back in the late 80s, so of course she made matching scunchis to go with her shorts. The cutest pair of shorts, in my opinion, was made using fabric that had tennis games on it–one row had the crowd looking to the left, the next row had the crowd looking to the right, etc. In fact, I liked those shorts so much that I wore them about six years later when I played tennis in high school. Tells you something about my fashion palate.
Anyway, to make these scunchis, my mom had a bodkin. A bodkin is basically a pair of tiny tongs, with a metal ring around it. You could grasp something (say a piece of elastic) with the tongs, slip the metal ring up until it held the tongs closed and then easily string the elastic through whatever fabric casing you had haphazardly put together. Without this little tool, making scunchis involved quite a bit of swearing.**
When I finally got my own sewing machine practically the first thing I wanted to buy, even before getting a good pair of scissors, was a bodkin. I’m not even sure why I wanted one so badly; perhaps I had plans for some kind of scunchi plot, in which I used up all my fabric scraps and then inflicted hideous hair-ties upon unsuspecting young tennis players. Anyhow, my mom didn’t know what the little thing was called and several trips to Jo-Ann’s turned up nothing. I was shocked. Shocked! How did sewists get by, on a daily basis, without such a delightful little thing? Various other “turning” tools simply masqueraded as being useful, in my opinion (especially that purple plastic thing you can get at Jo-Ann’s). Luckily, I was saved from a lifetime of frustration when turning tubes or threading elastic through casings, since my Gram had an extra bodkin in her sewing cabinet that she’d evidently forgotten about. Probably she had moved beyond her scunchi-making phase.
Then, in December, my mother and I treked to Jo-Ann’s and in the Notions section we found a whole stack of bodkins! Ecstasies! And imagine our surprise when the Jo-Ann employee informed us that we probably hadn’t seen them there before simply because they were out of stock. My mother, fearing such a calamity might occur again sometime in the next few decades, promptly bought every one they had left. I got two–you never know.
*Or are they spelled “scrunchi”? Actually, I think there’s an umlaut in there somewhere.
**Mostly “shooty” and “darn it.” Or perhaps “shooty” with an umlaut, in honor of the scunchis.