How to Reduce Knots and Tangles in Your
Unlike railroading and using a
laying tool, reducing knots and tangles in your work does not
call for learning new
skills....just for remembering to do some things.
Let the Needle Dangle
The first way to reduce knots each stitcher discovers
automatically: let the needle dangle
from the back of the work.
Turn the Needle the Other Way
Another way to discourage tangles is to counteract the
unconscious twist we give the needle. Do this by
twisting the needle in the
opposite direction. If you're right-handed, it's likely you
twist your needle clockwise.
(Left-handers probably turn it counter-clockwise.) By looking at
which way things
untwist when you let your needle dangle, figure out which way
you're turning the needle.
Either as you pull the needle up or sink it, give it a
quarter-turn in the opposite
Moisten the Floss
Moistening the thread really works wonders for eliminating knots
and tangles. I think it's
the one single thing you can do to reduce these problems. Get
yourself a hunk of clean
sponge (I like an "artificial" sponge, such as is often found as
a packing material).
Moisten it and squeeze out almost all the water so that it's damp
but not sopping. Put it in
a plastic container like a little box or a film can. (You can
also just lay it on a plate!) Pull
out one strand of floss from the 6-strand length (this is called
stripping) and run it over the
moist sponge. You can do this as a single operation. Set the
thread aside to dry (30-60
seconds in normal home humidity). You will see that moistening
the thread is like ironing
it. When it's flatter and straighter, it's less likely to kink
Don't stitch with moist floss! Let it dry first!
Note: I prepare all 6 strands of my floss at the same time,
recombining them in whatever
number I need (for me, that's usually 2). I'm careful to keep
the same cut ends together so
I can tell which way the grain of the thread runs and thread my
needle with the "blossoming end" in the eye. Also, when I
thread up the last of my
prepared floss, I fix the next batch so it'll be dry when I'm
ready for it.
Use Shorter Lengths
Stitching with long lengths also invites tangles. I know the
books all say 15-18" lengths,
but I've found that if I stitch with about 12" lengths, I have
far less aggravation from
uninvited knots. Using shorter lengths also means that I run out
of thread before it starts
to get fuzzy and produce stitches without sheen.
Another factor you might not have thought about is tension:
-your- tension. When you
stitch and you're all pent-up with stress, it's easy to get
tangles and knots. Also when you
hurry. The obvious solution is to relax and take your time.
Have a cup of tea before you
pick up your needle. Or, try this: as you breathe in, imagine
you're gathering up all the
tension into a ball in your chest; as you exhale long and deeply,
pretend you're sending all
these troubles out of your body. Do this several times. I know
it sounds kooky, but it
works for me, and maybe it will help you, too!
copyright 1996, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.
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