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June 24, 2008 5:05 PM CDT
Ingenious inventions get tryout at annual exhibit
by Arundhati Parmar Staff Writer

A simple but effective invention won several awards last
week: a spiral eye needle with an opening on the side to
make threading easier. (Submitted photo)

Updated June 25 at 4:45 p.m.

Build a better mousetrap, the saying goes, and the world
will beat a path to your door.

Pamela Turner is hoping that the same principle holds true
for sewing needles.

The Blaine resident is off to a good start, at least. Her hand
sewing needles won five awards at the most recent
Minnesota Inventors Congress, held at Redwood Falls on
June 13-14.

Established in 1958 by farmers and local business leaders,
the annual event provides a venue for people to display
their new-fangled contraptions. This year, the event
brought together 63 inventors from 14 states and three
countries. Inventions ranged from a dustless sanding
sponge and an outdoor retractable audio system to air
suspension for ambulance cots and a math-based game for
kids 6 and older.

“What they are doing is test marketing their product at our
event,” said Deb Hess, executive director at the nonprofit
Minnesota Inventors Congress. “They are trying to find out
what the public perception is, and make those connections
with manufacturers and investors, marketers.”

While Turner did not win the top prize – she won second place – she did walk away with the most awards. Her “spiral eye needle”
invention has an opening on the side of the needle for easier threading. The idea came to her when she experienced the same frustration
that anyone who has ever attempted to thread a needle feels – it’s not easy to slip the thread through that tiny oval opening.

Instead of being resigned to the problem, Turner decided to solve it. Her quest to design a needle that can be easily threaded began
more than three years ago. Only now has she begun to see the fruits of labor.
“People were telling me over and over that it can’t be done. Nobody sews anymore,” Turner, 53, recalled. “There is no manufacturer of
hand sewing needles in America any more, so finding a piece of equipment that could make the needle became a huge problem.”

Turner has located a Minnesota manufacturer, which who is currently producing the needles a few hundred or thousands at a time.
Starting in August, the local manufacturer will be able to produce the needles in bulk.

So far, Turner has sold just shy of 8,000 needles since October when she quit her job selling the Sleep Number bed. Most of the needles
sales were generated through her website, but she also sold them at the Elder Care Expo in the Twin Cities in May. The needles cost $5 a
pop, or $12 for three, and Turner is planning to have different sized needles to sell to catalog companies such as Nordic Needle later.

She filed for a patent in 2006 and it is pending – Turner is one of thousands of inventors who file for patents with the U.S. Patent Office
every year. Last year, the U.S. patent office received 467,243 applications based on preliminary data, up from 237,045 a decade ago.

Turner’s goal is to garner sales of $3 million to $4 million, sell the patent for several million more, and then move to invent the next new

“My entire life I have felt like I didn’t quite fit in, nobody thinks like me,” Turner said. “And that was the biggest award … going to the
Inventors Congress and meeting people who think like me.”

While Turner was a first-time exhibitor, Grant Hanson of Glenwood has been a regular at the event. He has won gold and silver awards in
the past, but this year won the $1,000 top award as well as the $500 popular choice award for making a specialized walker that prevents
people from falling. Hanson won two other awards for same invention.

Hanson, 59, is a member of the local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter, which hosts a get together a couple of times annually. At the
winter event last year, he discovered that one of his friend’s wives was absent. She and her husband had been in a car accident after
which she could not walk properly. They were worried that she would hurt herself again if she fell when trying to walk. That switched on the
light bulb in his brain.

“When I invent things, I often times get a picture of it in my mind, even before I do it, and that’s what happened here,” Hanson said.

As a mechanic who works on farm equipment like diesel engines, Hanson could use his skill to build a walker that has a wraparound
mechanism holding the person upright as he or she walks. The wraparound is sturdy and can support Hanson’s 200-pound weight, he
said. The local veteran’s group decided to pitch in for the parts to build the “walker rescuer,” which cost about $425.

Since April Joyce Anderson, his friend’s wife, has been walking around her home town of Farwell, accompanied by her dog. One day he
spotted her strolling in the streets as he drove by on Highway 55

“It blew me away and actually I had a tear in my eye,” Hanson said.

He hopes that he will able to strike a deal with a company that would pay him a royalty to sell the “walker rescuer” to help the old and

And then on to the next project.
Scarlet Quince News
October 2008

Spiral Eye Side-Threading Needles the eye works, it doesn't convey how shiny and finely made the actual needle is.) You don't even have to
be able to see where the opening is -- just wrap the thread near the end of the needle and turn the needle until you feel the thread go in.

They are about the size of a size 22 tapestry needle, which is a little bigger than you probably normally use for cross stitch, but they work just
fine. On 14-count and 18-count aida, they fit snugly in the holes in the fabric but are not difficult to put through, and of course softer fabrics
are no problem. The sharpness is right for cross stitch. More sizes are coming, so stay tuned.
For stitching with 2 strands of floss, you need to thread the needle one strand at a time (the eye holds up to 5 strands but the opening is
smaller). A good way to do this is match up the ends of your 2 strands of floss, loop them across the needle with a bit of space between them,
and pulling the floss taut against the needle, slide it along. The first strand will drop into the eye and slide up as the second floss arrives at the
eye and drops in. Easy!
You may have seen or tried the so-called calyx eye self-threading needle which is open at the top. And guess what? As soon as you take a
stitch, the thread comes right out. The Spiral Eye Needle really stays threaded!
You can purchase them at the Spiral Eye Needles web site. They cost more than an ordinary needle but if struggling to thread your needle is
taking all the fun out of stitching, it will be more than worth it to you. Be sure to read about how this tenacious lady fought the nay-sayers to
make her idea a reality -- it's quite an interesting story.

Copyright © 2008 Scarlet Quince, LLC. All rights reserved.

Scarlet Quince News
November 2008
Hello stitching friends,

We have a pattern award this month! Sue Jones of Whitley Bay, in the northeast of England, was the first to suggest The Rose Bower by
Edward Burne-Jones (see below), and we're sending her a complimentary copy. Thanks for your suggestion, Sue!

More About Needles

We talked about the Spiral Eye side-threading needle in last month's newsletter. They have now introduced a smaller needle, the SE-2. It's just
the size of a size 24 tapestry needle and a very nice size for cross stitch.

One reader wrote in about how she intended to make use of the spiral eye needle. She has small children and can't leave needles out when
she isn't stitching, so she has never been able to use the parking technique. Too much work removing and and then re-threading the needles!
With the easy-threading needle, though, she can just leave the floss hanging and easily move one needle around, then put it away when she's
finished stitching.

Spiral Eye Needles
have been featured by:

Sew Beautiful Magazine

Threads Magazine

HomeArts Magazine

Craft Focus

Crafts 'n Things

American Sewing Guild
Notions Magazine

June/July issue of Vogue
Patterns Magazine

Scarlet Quince

Needle & Thread  

St. Paul Pioneer Press
April 12, 2009 Business

At the 51st Minnesota Inventors' Congress Invention and Idea Show June 2008 the Spiral Eye Needle received 5 awards:
*  Professor Otto Schmitt Memorial Award for the most creative, innovative or unusual invention
*  The International Federation Of Inventors' Associations (IFIA) Lady Prize, for the best Ladies' invention
*  Gold medal for merit of invention
*  F. Robert Starr Award, runner up, invention determined to be the best in show
Maynard A. Speece Memorial Award, runner up, for the invention voted by the public to have the greatest appeal.

In January 2009 The Craft and Hobby Association awarded the new product Innovation award to the Spiral eye needle.

I was interviewed for an upcoming book on women inventors by Fred M.B. Amram.
His first book about women inventors was:  
From Indian Corn to Outer Space: Women Invent in America
By Ellen H. Showell and Fred M.B. Amram
(Peterborough, NH: Cobblestone Publishing, Inc., 1995).

I have been featured in several articles, including in all the magazines on the left as well as the Redwood Gazette.
Finance and Commerce Business News  wrote an article called Ingenious Inventions get tryout at annual exhibit  and the Scarlet Quince featured it in a newsletter. (see below) as well as many
magazines and newspapers.
Spiral Eye(R)  
Side Threading Needles  
patent # US 8,151,720 B2
Patents pending in Canada, Europe, and China
Never struggle to thread a needle again!