The Goods

I Tried to Re-Create That Miraculous Needle-Threading Video From Twitter and Guess What: It’s Not So Miraculous

The day after April Fool’s, the Twitter user @Johnbick4 posted a mind-blowing video on Twitter (originally via Facebook) that exploded millennia of common wisdom: There is another way to thread a needle.

The usual way, as had been handed down through the ages, is, of course, to squint one eye, take the fraying end of a piece of string, and, with some help from saliva and scissors, jab it through the needle’s eye. Perhaps because this is hard to do when humans are first learning to thread needles—namely, when they are small and have bad hand-eye coordination—this tried-and-true method has an outsize reputation for being inefficient, a reputation so strong that to this day, when I thread a needle on a first try, a common occurrence, I am unduly impressed with myself.

The video in question was after both my undue pride and the needle-threading status quo. In the video, a woman in extreme close-up is seen trying, and failing, to thread a needle the old-fashioned way, albeit with the performative clumsiness of a person trying to put their pants on by missing the leg hole. Then, an option simultaneously sane and radical is offered: The woman lays the string in her palm, furiously rubbing the needle’s eye over it like she is trying to start a fire in her hand, and then, instead of a fire—ta-da!— she has a threaded needle.

Like all people whose dearly held beliefs have just been shattered, I reacted to this video with vehement denial and some curse words.  “I do not believe this video!” I told my colleagues, as I ran to a cabinet to get a thread and a needle and disprove it for myself.

I stretched the string across my palm. I rubbed the needle over it. The string began to kink and … Goddamn. My needle threaded.

I was sad. If there’s a better way to thread a needle, what else have I been doing wrong? Rather than contemplate this, I made like a proper skeptic. I tried again.

Twenty minutes later, I had failed to re-create my miraculous first threading. Instead of a threaded needle, I had frustration, red marks in my palm, and some theories about how this might have worked better with damp palms. Was the string moving too much? Was my hand? What’s the right place on one’s palm to do this? Perhaps with millennia of practice, the human race could perfect this method of needle-threading. In the meantime, using the tried-and-true jabbing method, I would have threaded my needle dozens of times over.

In conclusion: The sky is blue, the world spins round, and this is a pretty cool, but barely functional, way to thread a needle. When it comes to threading needles, everything you know is not wrong.