Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tools of the trade

Everyone who has a craft or hobby has tools.

Card makers, scrapbookers, knitters, stitchers, bikers, woodworkers, even readers, all have tools.

Here are some tools I use for my stitching. They are ones any stitcher would have.

A really good, sharp scissors, a stitch ruler, magnetic needle
finder, needle holder, a needle threader, scissors case

There are stitching web sites with tools available you probably never knew you needed. Or that even existed.

Here is a "mystery tool." Do you know what it is? Or what it might be used for?

What is this?

It is a metal 3-inch piece with oval holes on each end.

If you're waiting for the answer, it won't be coming from me. I have no idea what this is. But I do know it is a stitching tool as it was in my Mom's collection and she gave it to me long ago. She had no idea what it was either, or how or where she acquired it. She just had it tucked away in her collection, and when she gave it to me, I tucked it away in mine.

If you can solve this mystery, please let me know.

Another tool I use is a magnetic board to keep the pattern in place. And then I mark off stitches as they are done with a yellow highlighter. This pattern calls for so many slightly varying shades of the same color that I would be lost if I didn't mark off the stitches as they're done.

I never use the original pattern but rather I photocopy it and work from the copy. Why?  If I make a mistake (heaven forbid), or mis-mark it, I can re-photocopy the original again and start over. And if I share the pattern, or want to make it again, I always have the original intact.

My favorite "tool" of all is my wooden frame. Many stitchers prefer the feel of the fabric in their hands, especially if working on linen.  Since I usually use Aida 16- or 18-count fabric, I like having it held taut and not touching it.  I don't usually wash my finished piece, as recommended, because after being on the frame, it doesn't need laundering.

You can see where I am on this piece. The bars can be lowered or raised as the pattern progresses. A few stitches are visible from the bottom of the piece before the bars were raised to work on the top of the piece.  The fabric will be raised again before it's completed.

I work from the bottom up which is contrary to what most stitchers are taught to do (upper left side or middle, working down). I don't know why I do this, only that I started out that way, and you know what they say about teaching an old dog new tricks!

Discovering new tools is fun, and looking through the latest Nordic Needle catalog is a favorite pastime. Always on the lookout for a new tool I really need!

Years ago, sometime in the mid-1970s, I told my mother I could never do counted-thread work. I was working on a stamped cross stitch piece (perish the thought, now that I've become a snob).

So she bought me a kit that included the fabric, pattern and floss needed and started me out. I saw how easy it was (with a simple pattern) and I got hooked. From there, I was brave enough to tackle a bit more challenging pattern, and have been stitching ever since.

If you have never tried counted thread work, I encourage you to try it and hope this inspires you.

Happy Stitching!