Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Tool Time! Lost your Needle?


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Here’s another indispensable tool in my workroom. I don’t keep it in my “tool box” with my scissors or anything else – no, no, it has a special place right next to where I sit, because I use it daily.

And besides, if it were in my tool box, it would make a mess of everything!

You may very well have one of these already (if you do, I bet you love it, too!), or you may have seen or heard of them and thought you didn’t really have a need for it. I thought the same thing until I bought one. And now – well, it’s True Love. We won’t be parted! We’re drawn to each other, like… like… magnets.

Telescoping Magnet

This jolly device is called a telescoping (or telescopic) magnet. In its unfurled state, it is about five inches long.

Telescoping Magnet

But stretch it out to its 35″ maximum length, and it is a Wonder.

The use of this tool is obvious: it relieves you of having to bend down from your seated position while stitching to pick up your needle when you drop it.

Or your scissors.

Or your pencil sharpener.

Or your thumb tacks.

Or your tambour hook.

Or your fingernail clippers.

Or your…

You get the idea! Anything metal that a magnet would seek that weighs apparently up to five pounds (according to the manufacturer), this thing will pick up.

Telescoping Magnet

It has a Very Strong Magnet on the end.

Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t need help bending and reaching.” Well, I suppose I don’t, either. If I need to get down on the floor to get something, I can. But with this thing, I don’t have to!

But it’s better than that. My problem is not so much in the Picking Up of the Thing.

My problem is in The Finding of the Thing. I drop needles All the Time. It’s almost a ritualistic thing with me, though I’m not sure why. Needles are very hard for me to see on my floor in my workroom. So I just swipe the telescoping magnet around in the general vicinity, and I will always land a catch! Sometimes, I’ll land two or three needles that I didn’t even know were there.

This is a Particularly Handy tool for stitchers who live with other people with bare feet, or who have little children, cats, dogs, or pygmy hippos. Never a good idea to leave stray needles on the floor in any of those cases!

Telescoping Magnet

Being a Very Strong Magnet, I keep mine parked on my file cabinet underneath my work table. I don’t leave it on the table where it could come in contact with my camera or my iPad or any other sensitive electronics.

And with it parked in its place, I always know where to find it – which means I can always find my needles.

If you don’t have a telescoping magnet, put one on your list. It will fast become your best friend!

Where can you find them? Lots of places! Needlework shops, hardware stores – you might even find one in your husband’s tool box!

You can find a three-pack of light-weight (3lb) telescoping magnets here on my Amazon Recommendations Page under tools & accessories. While they don’t life really heavy stuff, I find they’re perfect for needlework, and the three-pack allows me to keep one at each of my work areas.

The link to my Amazon Recommendations Page is an affiliate link, which means that Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission for each purchase made through any of the product links. Every little bit of support helps! Thank you!


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(48) Comments

  1. I have one with a much larger magnet head, makes it much easier to find needles but it does take up more room. I got mine at Northern Tool.

  2. Mary: Here’s wishing you a cosy nest, hot cups of tea, classical music, good books, and lots of rest so you’ll feel better soon. (and when I brought home one of these marvelous extendo-magnets, it immediately disappeared into my husband’s collection of tools!) Janet

  3. three or four years ago my husband picked up one similar to this at an auto parts store. only difference was the one he got me has a light on the end of it….really great! don’t know what i’d do without it.

  4. Mary, I agree – a very handy tool. Mostly I hunt for needles with it. I love the way you have it ‘mounted’. My stitching corner has wood around it, so not an option for me, although I do have a ‘cow magnet’ on the refrigerator for similar use in the kitchen. In my stitching corner I have a rolling cart (plastic) with drawers for many of my tools, and I keep the telescoping magnet near the front of a shallow drawer.

    Get well soon!

  5. I do hope you’re on the mend soon Mary, and that you have a nice, relaxing weekend!

    I haven’t got one of these but my husband has one in his workshop which I sometimes ‘borrow’ – sometimes for extended periods! πŸ™‚ Very useful indeed.

  6. I love our telescoping magnet! My dad gave one to my husband a while ago. I had to use it just the other day when my three year old dropped a hot wheels car down a heating vent! BUT- for some reason I’ve never thought to use it to to look for needles! Thanks!

  7. I don’t use a telescoping magnet at home (I don’t drop needles very often)but I keep a flat refrigerator magnet (2×4 in?)in my grab and go box, which I also use at home to store my tools and keep my projects tidy so my cats can’t get to them. We all know the type of magnet, the floppy ones that the plumbing company (or whoever) leaves with their number on it for you after they come and fix your dishwasher, or that your insurance agent provides with an annual calendar attached…. They work great in the car (I drop needles there more often) because you don’t have 5 feet of space to wave the telescoping magnet around, especially under the seat. Though, I do use it at home on the odd occasion that I do drop a needle so that kitty paws will stay cute and uninjured. The flatsos (hehe that is what I call the magnets) also work in the car to keep your tools from rolling around too much.

  8. What a neat little tool. Sounds like it would be handy for picking up straight pins that fall on the floor. (I’m always dropping those while sewing!) And, of course, if I did something like, um, knock the box of pins off of the table!
    I did get a few stitches in yesterday. It was not much, but a few stitches is a few stitches! Better some than none!
    I hope you will be feeling well very soon. You are in my prayers.

    Sarah πŸ™‚

  9. I have one of these, but mine has a light on the end for looking in dark corners and under tables. A wonderful addition to my tool stash

  10. I need one of these in the worst kind of way! Thank you for turning us on to it!

    Bless your heart… I can feel your pain on the sickness… a lot of us can… Seems like this year whatever we get just does not want to turn loose. Get well soon!

  11. Please get well soon, sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather. I just love your site, which I discovered last year. It is a fantastic resource for someone like me, who really should have learned all these techniques many years ago. Now, I am trying to learn it all. I just hope I live long enough!

  12. I am absolutely pathologically careful about needles and pins after getting this news: My sweet dog, Tess, needed x-rays. The vet asked me “are you a sewer?” He discovered she had 3 needles IN HER. They were just randomnly floating around in her abdomen and fortunately causing no trouble. We have no clue how they got there or how long they were there. She carried them around with her for 4 more years after that!

    1. I do not think that being pathologically careful is a bad thing, if you were worried about the health and welfare of your pincushion or a teabag I would worry, but your pet deserves that concern. πŸ™‚ I am an embroiderer, and my cousin is not, and two years ago, her cat swallowed a couple of needles when she was mending (a once a year activity for her) some clothing. The cat just up and swallowed them (they were threaded)right in front of her… We laugh about it now, but then, it was nowhere near funny. It was about 4 grand to retrieve the needles. I have been utterly anal about project organization for much longer than I have had my two cats, but I have known for a long time that pets and needles DO NOT mix. The teacher who taught me embroidery (4th grade) warned us.

  13. Dear Mary,
    You are already in my prayers.
    I hope you recover soon. Take good care of yourself.
    (Great little gadget, by the way. I often wondered if it really worked. I’m getting one!)
    Doris HH

  14. G’day Mary,
    Love the idea of the picker upper.

    Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick…
    And he (Dr.) wrote on a paper for a pill, pill, pill…
    He said Miss Polly but her straight to bed,
    I’ll be back in the morning yes I will, will will.
    So sorry you’ve not been well. Yes, bed, bed, bed. Rest well.
    Cheers, Kath.

  15. Oh, Mary, I’m sorry to hear you’re so sick. I wish I could deliver some hot tea or homemade chicken noodle soup to you. I am sending best wishes for a quick recovery.

    Rest we’ll!

  16. I am glad to know that I am not the only one loosing embroidery supplies, including needles! I am always amazed that I can loose things without getting up!

    Hope you feel better quickly.

    As always, thank you for the tip!

  17. Oh no. I wish you had mentioned being sick earlier. You may need more than just 2 days to get better. Please get all the rest you need. We’ll still be here waiting for the next adventure. Take care.

  18. Dear Mary

    I’m so sorry to hear that you are still unwell. You must rest and take it easy, I feel for you I had flu last year and it knocked me out for 3 weeks, please take care.

    The Telescopic magnet looks a really must have useful tool I will order one immediately, like you I’m forever dropping needles or forget where I’ve put them so this will come in handy, but which one should I buy the one that comes with the light or the ordinary one, mmmmmm I shall muse on that one. Thanks for sharing this with us and have a restful weekend.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  19. I have one covered by a plastic handle that, though less strong, does the trick. It keeps my scissors and needle corralled, and I can move about the house to sew without loosing track of either. It, too, is great for sweeping across the carpet to retrieve what I drop.

  20. Dear Mary,
    Have a good rest with lots of sleep! Hope you feel very much better soon. My funny story about magnets (and why I am now wary) – many years ago I dropped a whole tin of dressmaking pins on our floor of polished boards. I’d heard of the magnet trick, and because it was hard picking up 500 pins from a flat surface, I tried it out. And for at least 2 years after, when I wanted pins one by one, I got a chain… Yes, all magnetised!

  21. And mine is even magic. I was forever, like you, down on the floor looking for needle. A dear friend gave me a telescoping magnet like yours for Christmas — and I have not dropped a needle since. So I have concluded that it is a magic magnet!

  22. Mary,

    I have one of these great tools and love it.
    Please take care of yourself and get plenty of rest. Hope you will soon feel better.


  23. Hey! I have a needle/pin finder, too! It’s my husband’s feet! LOL! He’d probably *very* much appreciate me getting one of these! I hope you’re feeling better soon. πŸ™‚

  24. Thanks Mary, I have been wondering how strong the magnet was on the telescoping thing. I keep a magnet in my work basket at all times because I spill pins routinely.

    I hope you feel better soon. Debbie

  25. I do have one or three of these wondrous little gadgets around the house and studio. Since I injured my spine and more recently developed arthritis in my knees, bending to pick up – but worse, search for – little things on the floor has become all but impossible. Enter the magnet on a telescope! I also have something that looks a bit like a walking stick with a Vee on the end, and if you push the button on the handle, the arms of the Vee come together to allow you to pick up larger or non-metallic things.

  26. OMG! I want one of these. I stick my needles in my pillows and armrests, not to mention losing them and I’m always afraid I’ll find one in a terrible way. Not to mention the cats and pygmy hippos. πŸ™‚

    This blog is very bad for my stash shopping, but I love, love, love it. I hope you feel better Mary.

  27. Dear Mary, Have a good rest. Take the whole week if you need to. Being unwell is no fun. Give a shout if you need anything. All the best for a speedy recovery. Louisa

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