I hate waste and I do a lot of handsewing, so I liked the idea of not having to throw out a needle every time it went blunt. Unfortunately I couldn't find a source for tiny quantities of emery but I did, eventually, find an excellent alternative.
It turns out that any very fine, very hard powder will do the trick. Sand grains are not only very hard, they're also very easy for most Kiwis to come by :-) Also easy for many Kiwis to come by is muslin, which can be used as a very fine-meshed seive. Bingo! So I took some well rinsed and dried beach sand, poured it onto a piece of muslin and squeezed it a bit until a half-teaspoonful or so had passed through.
To make my pincushion I then sewed the sand into a double-walled fabric pouch and sewed that into the centre of an ordinary pincushion. In the year or so that I've been using it I haven't had to throw out any blunt needles :-)
|My original pincushion, with sand in the brown bit in the middle. I do like wrist pincushions!|
|A sand pincushion I made for a friend - the sand pouch is under the centre of the red fabric.|