A couple of weeks ago, I was at the end of a really, really crummy day when I walked down to the pub to meet my knitting group. As if she somehow knew my day needed a little pretty, my lovely friend Holly had a surprise gift for me from her visit to the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show in London – these beautiful hand-dyed threads, all slinky and silky and desperate to be fondled. I’m afraid I forgot the shop name she told me, but these gorgeously shiny threads must be rayon, which I’ve admired but never stitched with. Holly said that the seller has some samples using this thread for hand-quilting, which sounds awfully tempting, or perhaps I need an embroidery project just right for something hot pink and seductive? Both colors are stunning, but what really kills me is that Holly knew how much I’d love that hot pink! It makes me all warm and fuzzy when people know *exactly* what you’ll like that way. Thank you, Holly – you really made my day!
Tools & Toys Tuesday
When I first started planning my crewel sampler, I ordered a couple of used (out of print) Erica Wilson books. I first came across Erica Wilson at my lace teacher’s house; she showed me one of her books as something a 1970s-lover like myself might like. And WOWEE, that woman surely did embrace the 1970s in her embroidery!
If you’ve never heard of Erica Wilson, well, neither had I! Apparently, she was the ‘big name’ in embroidery during the 1960s and 1970s, author of more than a dozen embroidery books, and host of her own stitchery television show, and owner of a needlework shop. Who knew?! I like to picture her like a stitchy Bob Ross, enthusiastically sharing her stitchy love with the masses – but perhaps without the cheese. (We love you, Bob Ross, partly because of the cheese.) I’ll have to look to see if clips of her show are available somewhere.
But anyway, her books: the first that I ordered is about crewelwork specifically and, somewhat disappointingly, turned out to be a really simple project book with not much informational value. Bummer. But Erica Wilson’s Embroidery Book, which I threw into my cart as an afterthought, more than makes up for it. This book is copyrighted 1973 and is chock-full of incredible 70s-ness – which I love – but also shows historical examples of embroidery, both of which inspire me. It is a stitch dictionary as well as an encyclopedia of styles (blackwork, crewel, goldwork, etc) and is definitely my new favorite embroidery book!
Another first in quite a while – Tools & Toys Tuesday! To get me back in the swing of things, today I’m just sharing some deliciously pretty thread. This lovely selection of Finca Perle Cotton No. 16 followed me home from a local patchwork group meeting. I have no idea yet what I’ll use it for – maybe some stitching, maybe some hand quilting. I actually went and bought this pile after I saw the beautiful hand quilting Karen was working on in this same thread, so maybe I’ll join her eventually. For now, I’m fine with it just sitting around, being all sweet and charming!
Today I want to share a little follow-up to the Pilot Frixion pen test we did a few weeks ago. In the comments of that post, we wondered about the effect washing would have on the returning-pen-lines phenomena. If cold makes the lines come back, Frixion pens must be using some sort of space-age disappearing ink-type technology. So what if the pen is just completely washed out of the fabric altogether – that should remove all traces of it, right? And then the marks wouldn’t come back no matter what?
But not everyone washes – a thorough, sudsy wash – their embroidered pieces. I very, very rarely do. Luckily, poor Dracula needed a wash after his afternoon in the rain, so I took this opportunity to test my theory. Fresh from a gentle, wool-cycle spin through the washing machine, I took an ice cube to my tote to see what would happen (above).
Nothing! I rolled the ice cube all over that patch of embroidery and waited long enough for the ice to get a bit drippy – you can see my tote is starting to get wet, and very cold, and there’s not a speck of pen visible.
I don’t know if I consider that to be a totally conclusive test, but it is what seemed logical. So if you’re willing to give your embroidery a soapy wash, you should be safe from spontaneously reappearing pen lines!
I’m sure I’ve mentioned my devotion to the Pilot Frixion gel pen as a tool for crafting a million times – it’s so very useful in a way that no other transfer pen is. But! It does have its limitations, and every once in a while I hear a bit of chatter about the various ways it could potentially destroy your hard work – so I thought it was time to have a more ‘scientific’ look at the pen.
Above, I’ve marked three scraps with the Pilot Frixion pen: two white (Kona Snow, to be exact) and one dark / print (some kind of Amy Butler, I believe). Both fabrics are regular old quilting cotton, nothing fancy, and I’ve marked these to indicate the things we’ll test out. (The print scrap says ‘Pilot Frixion pen on color / print’.)
First up is the standard: marking white fabric. This is probably most common for transferring embroidery patterns, and it’s primarily what I use Frixion pens for. This is what happens with you iron over your pen marks:
I even left the slight imprint of my iron tip there for you to see. In very certain light, at the right angle, you can see an odd faint echo of the writing. But if you’re embroidering, anything visible will be covered completely, and really, it’s extremely difficult to see. I have no worries using this pen for transferring embroidery patterns, and the fine point makes all the difference when tracing something detailed (as most of the Little Dorrit & Co. embroidery patterns are!).
Using these pens on colored or printed fabric is another story though. I’ve chosen a very dark fabric for effect, but all colors / prints fall under this category:
I hope you can see that the line left behind by the pen is now lighter and quite visible. Photos will never be the same as real-life, but you can definitely see the word ‘color’ to the bottom left. I mean, it’s not glowing, and if you’re marking something you will be trimmed away or that will be hidden in a seam, of course that’s no problem. But I found this weird thing out last year making Liberty Heart Ornaments and I’d changed my mind about the heart placement. I wouldn’t be surprised if no one ever noticed that little faint line, but be sure to test your fabric first if using a print or colored fabric!
Now, I have soaked and rinsed things marked with Frixion pens, re-pressed them, gotten them caught in the rain (last week with my Dracula tote, poor guy was soaked through!) – etc. I have not noticed any reappearing lines or observed anything unusual at all. But more than once I have heard that your lines will return in the cold. So I decided we’d test that – I ironed my freezer-marked scrap clean, then stuck it in the freezer. A couple of hours later:
It completely re-appeared! Well, bust my buttons! I feel like Mr. Wizard up in here! Ok, I admit that is pretty weird. But practically speaking, does that really change anything? I mean, how often to you think you’ll stick your needlework in the freezer? (And for the record, it did re-iron away after being in the freezer.) I can’t imagine even very cold temperature air is cold enough to bring the marks back, but we’d have to wait until winter to test that for sure. I can promise you that I’ve never, ever noticed any lines spontaneously returning on a chilly day.
I feel secure saying that I’ll continue to use these Frixion pens for embroidery pattern transfer (on white fabric, at least) for the foreseeable future! That freezer thing really is weird, but you know what? Those water soluable blue markers have their issues too. Their points are too thick to deal with small detail well, and that neon blue color is very distracting when you have to match colors. But more importantly, I have twice in the past week seen the iron bring back those supposedly water-erased marks, much to my frustration!
The truth is that I reckon all of the markers I’ve tried have their limitations. I keep a selection of them and chose best for whatever I’m working on, but none are great for everything. I’d love to try these various Clover pencils and marking tools eventually – Clover tools usually knock my socks off. Until then though – I hope this is helpful, and that you’ll share your favorite marking tool with me as well!
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