I like to think I am not terribly superstitious, but when I break needles I worry. Especially when I break a large number in a short amount of time.
Usually it is a mechanical problem – I am pulling or pushing the piece around too hard, and the needle gets bent slightly and hits the throat plate when it goes in. That indicates I should make the needle go faster, and move the fabric slower.
Every once and a while I get too many layers in one place, and the texture is too stiff to get a needle through. I remember in an interview with Dierdre Scherer, a woman making astonishing protraits in fabric and stitch, she said she stitched until needles broke; then she knew that area was finished. I don't generally have this problem, but I am aware of it.
And yet, even when I am careful and the layers are about as usual, needle breaking goes in runs. I think it might be related to my level of tiredness. Since I didn't sleep last night until way too late (foolish brain!) and rode two horses again today, I think I am going to blame the last 5 (five!?!) needles in five minutes on tired.
But it means I have nothing to show, because the needles broke before anythig interesting happened. So I will get some new trees cut out and ironed down for the foreground, and I will think about a frozen pond and a rock with a layer of snow on it, because neither of those things will break another needle.