Tools & Toys Tuesday

Tools & Toys Tuesday: DMC 3799

Tools & Toys: DMC 3799

If you’ve bought one of our embroidery patterns, or just have an eagle eye, you might wonder why we never use pure black thread (DMC 310) and always use a very dark gray (DMC 3799) instead. There’s a few reasons for this, and since we use so very much of it in our new Dracula embroidery pattern, it finally occurred to me to explain!

When we first started designing patterns, we did use 310, but we quickly noticed that it was really difficult to get an even, yummy line with it. It always seemed a bit fuzzy and every tiny flaw in the stitching stood out by a mile. I thought it might be because the contrast against a while background is so stark – which is the same reason I use a very, very dark gray as text color in my knitting patterns. It’s just a little tiny bit softer on the eye, but still reads as black. (It also photographs better, as you can see above – less glare, more thread definition – which is a lovely side-benefit if you’re photographing patterns for sale.)

Of course you can always substitute pure black anywhere that our patterns use 3799, but we swear by it! Now, with only a couple of days left to enter, get your name in for our giveaway for a copy of the Dracula pattern!

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Milliner’s Needles, yay!

Tools & Toys Tuesday

Thanks very much for your thoughts on Milliner’s Needles – I switched to a larger needle and *whoa*, it was like a whole new thing. As advertised, it made french knot angst a thing of the past! Seriously, every knot is so much easier (and less annoying!) than before, and my progress sped up a millionfold. You can see the needle I ended up using above – the hugemongous one is the milliner’s needle, the teeny one is a normal embroidery needle. It’s like embroidering with a spear! If you’ve ever had trouble with french knots, definitely give these a go.

Tools & Toys Tuesday

Here’s my progress so far – erm, with 4 days to go, is it likely that I’ll finish before the end of the month? Yeah, not so much. But I’ll give it a sporting try!

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Fibre-East Loots!

Fibre-East 2013 Loots

I don’t know if any of you readers are UK fiber*-lovers and might have visited Fibre-East this year, but myself and a couple of friends from my knitting group did and found some lovely treats to take home with us! I have a considerable yarn stash that I will never, ever finish knitting, so I was allowed just one thing, yarn-wise. And it had to be for one of two projects I had written down that I had no suitable stash for. I was a good girl, and it was surprisingly fun to hunt the one perfect skein to come home with me.

My one skein is pure silk, laceweight, from Luxury Yarns, in a color as close to the dress Marilyn Monroe wears in “How To Marry A Millionaire” as I think I’m ever going to find. I’ve been trying for a yarn in that Marilyn color for a long time – I even tried to dye it myself, twice! This yarn is intended for Cloud Illusions by Boo Knits, which I’ll be knit-along-ing with Karen sometime soon!

Also pictured are my two embroidery treats: hand-dyed cotton floss by Oliver Twists, who make the most beautiful colors there ever were. I wanted these flosses last year, and waited a whole year to have another chance at them! The crewel wool is from The Mulberry Dyer, all hand-dyed with natural plant dyes. They have such a gorgeous depth of color! These little bundles are meant for future lyric embroideries, after I finish the Eels lyrics.

So, a big success, I would say! Did you go to Fibre-East this year? What did you think of the new venue? I have to admit, I was disappointed – with stands scattered all over the school like that, it didn’t have the same cohesive feel, as an event, as it did in previous years. We had a lovely time though – there’s nothing like a building full of wool fumes to make a pack of knitters jolly!

* Yes, I am American and I spell it ‘fiber’. But ‘Fibre-East’ is a proper noun and it feels wrong to spell it differently. Such is the confusingly-spelled life of an expat, sigh!

Tools & Toys Tuesday

Tools & Toys Tuesday: quilting thread

This is the thread I use for nearly all of my hand-sewing and hand-quilting: Gutermann Quilting thread. It’s lovely – a little stiffer than ordinary cotton threads and it feels sturdier as well. I don’t feel that slight stretch you feel sometimes with lesser threads. I’ve gone through several spools of it since I started doing more hand-stitching work.

But, having used Aurifil Threads for the first time on the last couple of large quilts I’ve worked on, I have to wonder if they make an even better thread for my hand-stitched projects. I’d never really noticed thread quality until I used it; so so smooth, not a glitch or tangle or fluff to be seen. I came across this page, which describes the different weights of Aurifil threads and what they’re best used for. Score! I’ll be taking notes on this before the Festival of Quilts in a few weeks, where I’ll be sure to stop by the Aurifil stand so I can see what the different threads are like in person.

I’m pretty sure this might be the geekiest post I’ve ever written. But thread is awesome, no?!

Tools & Toys Tuesday: Homemade Lace Pillow Carrying Bag

Lace Pillow Bag

This one’s a little cheeky because I made this myself – but it’s still a tool! I’ve had my lace teacher’s equipment on loan since I started learning, at her insistence, under the theory that it’s better to be sure you actually like a craft before you sink money into it. But I think it’s clear I’m going to stick with it now, so I’ve been gradually buying my own tools and returning hers.

Lace Pillow Bag

One of the main things I needed to get was a carrying bag for my lace pillow, which is both large and relatively heavy. So it has to be sturdy and I was hoping it could be super-pretty too. I looked around online and couldn’t find anything that looked remotely like my style, so I decided to make one myself. With absolutely idea how to do that. I winged it.

Lace Pillow Bag

A lace pillow bag is about 21″ square-ish, and has zippers going up both sides so that the pillow (with lace-in-progress on it, usually) can be taken out and placed in carefully. It can basically be opened completely flat, then zipped up around the pillow. The zippers were quite a challenge and involved some hand-stitching, but I basted every step first and sewed very slowly, and it’s turned out to be the first thing I’ve sewn that doesn’t *look* like I made it myself, you know? Nothing’s a little wonky, the lining isn’t just a wee bit bunchy. And I’m so pleased that my lace can be carried around in such a happy bag from now on!

Lace Pillow Bag

And even better: the lace bags I’ve seen on eBay and the like are going for about £25, but all the materials for mine came from stash, so the only direct cost was about £5 for the zippers. SCORE.

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