Thursday, April 3, 2008

SBQ, Thank You

I'm a poet, and I don't even know it. (I crack me up). Actually, I could use a good laugh now and then, just to deal with this house hunting. I want to say thank you to those who have offered advice, support and hugs. It means more to me than I can adequately express and I really appreciate the time taken to leave a comment or send me an email. Hopefully we'll have good news soon.

I did get a lovely "unbirthday" gift from Barbara yesterday - the coolest bookmark I own. Unfortunately, the weather today was cloudy and dim, so I didn't take a picture yet, but rest assured it's a lovely piece, one that I will treasure. It's also the very first piece I've ever received from another stitcher. (And if for some strange reason you don't know who Barbara is, do head over to a blog and "meet" her. She's just wonderful!) I will try to take a photo tomorrow - just wait until you see it!

And now for this week's SBQ (yes, I know I just did one yesterday...)

04/03/08: What items do you consider essential to your needlework that you keep in your stitching bag? (Submitted by Terri)

I usually use a plastic box with a snap on lid to keep my stitching in, unless we're traveling, and thanks to Nicole, I purchased a sweet Vera Bradley Little Travel Case. I haven't tried it out yet (we haven't traveled lately), but Nicole just loves hers and I'm sure I'll love it too. They're discontinuing the style, so if you're interested, pick one up soon. Mine is in Nantucket Navy (my favorite!) from eBay, but the Vera Bradley site is offering them at almost 1/2 price.

Most of the time, I keep my tools in a small, plastic lined cosmetic bag. I'm still without a decent scissor sheath, so I don't want any renegade scissors poking holes in my fabric or my fancy new stitching bag. Obviously scissors and needles are the most important tools a stitcher has, and despite LOADS of temptation from you guys, I have yet to succumb to Gingher scissors. (I confess to checking them out online and maybe possibly looking for them while I was out this afternoon, but I resisted!) My scissors are pretty boring - I use a pair from a set of scissors I bought at Garden Ridge a while back. They get the job done, but I will probably end up treating myself to a nicer pair sometime in the future. Say, oh, I don't know.... these that dear Janet brought to my attention.

They're called Scissoroos and they have a KANGAROO on the scissors! I adore kangaroos - I've been fascinated by all things Australian for as long as I can remember, and I actually collect kangaroos. I have probably about 2 dozen stuffed ones, not to mention a few pieces of kangaroo jewelry, some figurines, etc. I even have a kangaroo coffee mug.

Anyway, I also have a Needle Nest I found in the quilting section to hold my needles. The white part is magnetic and the lid snaps closed. Very handy, and I will occasionally use it to park threaded needles if I am working with color changes.

I usually buy regular old size 28 needles I use to stitch pretty much everything. I did pick up some fancy John James needles here and there, but usually I just use the DMC ones you can buy at Michael's. I have a few other needles of different sizes, but I like the 28s the best.

I do have a needle question though - my DH, who is also a stitcher, has on more than one occasion broken a needle. Literally snapped a needle in half while stitching. This has never happened to me and I thought it was strange that he actually broke a needle while stitching, but perhaps it happens more than I realize? Have you ever had a needle break on you while you were stitching?

Other essentials in my tool kit include:

  • a leather thimble - I don't use it that often, but it's nice to have. I do have to keep it hidden from our cat who has a distinct fondness for leather (we keep our leather shoes and shoes with laces on the steps down to our front door - where he can't get to them). The leather is nice because it's adjustable - if it's too small, you can snip the thread that holds it together and use a bigger piece.

  • Thread Heaven - I didn't think it was necessary to have, but I've found it makes hand-dyed threads so much easier to work with! DH even likes it on regular DMC threads.

  • A seam ripper, for when the dreaded frog pays a visit. I find it's easier to work with one of these if I have to take out a large section. Rather than trying to unstitch or use my scissors to cut out the stitches, I use the seam ripper and it works out much better.

  • Tweezers - yep, regular good old slant tip tweezers that you can buy at any Target, Wal-Mart, etc., in the health and beauty aisle for a couple bucks. These are enormously useful in conjunction with the seam ripper for getting threads out of my fabric as well as picking out the occasional cat hair or two. I also keep a pair or two of tweezers in my beading box as they're quite useful there too.

  • Scroll frames - I like stitching on these. Stitching in hand causes my hand to ache and I can't do it for very long. If something is just too small to get on a scroll frame, I use a plastic embroidery hoop. I find I stitch better when I have consistent tension in my fabric.

  • Fray Check / Pinking Shears - I use a combination of fray check and pinking shears to keep the edges of my fabric from unraveling. For sturdier fabrics, I find pinking shears to work just fine, but for more delicate fabrics like linens, fray check works better

  • Pencils - colored and regular - I always keep a pencil and eraser with my stitching for making notes and marking charts if necessary. Pencil erases easier thank ink! I like to use a mechanical pencil with a retractable lead so there's less chance of a rogue pencil marking up fabric or stitching projects. I find colored pencils useful on hard to read charts - I color in each symbol with a different color and it makes the chart easier to read. I've also used highlighters for this purpose.

  • Ruler / Measuring tape - I have a 12 inch plastic ruler that lives in my stitching box and gets used for absolutely nothing else, so I don't have to worry about anything transferring to my fabric from the ruler. I also have a retractable measuring tape. I'm obsessive about measuring two, three, six times before cutting.

  • Finally, I like to have some baby wipes around for wiping my hands if I can't get to a sink (I have a few individually wrapped ones I keep in my stitching bag. And I need to restock, but I like to keep Shout wipes handy in case there are any accidents. I'm usually very careful with my stitching, but better safe than sorry!


    Kim B said...

    I've never heard of fray check before. I may have to look for that on my next trip to JoAnns.

    Ginny said...

    A small size knitting needle point protector fits perfectly over the point of scissors. No more poking through bags or projects!

    Anonymous said...

    You really think of everything! Great list!

    Chiloe said...

    Nope, I never broke a needle either ...

    Patty said...

    I've broken a few needles. They snap in two at the eye. It seems to be the ones that come with kits though. Maybe they use extra cheapy needles.

    Lee said...

    Love the scissors!

    I've broken quilting needles, but never a tapestry needle. You know how they say that some people have skin chemistry that messes with the metal in the needles? That happens to me - my needles turn funny after a project or two. Maybe he has skin chemistry that's particularly bad for the needles? Just a thought.

    Lisa said...

    I've broken a few needles. Like Patty they usually just break at the eye - mostly the DMC needles though. I've used John James but the last batch was rough at the eye and would catch the tread up so I've switched to Piecemakers - they're great!

    Meari said...

    Those are some cute scissors. For my scissors that didn't come with a sheath, I use small knitting needle protectors. They're just the right size to protect the tips of embroidery scissors.

    Pumpkin said...

    I'm sorry you're having such a stressful time with house hunting. It's no fun. I do hope that something will come up soon for you and that it will be 'the one'. :o)

    Wendy said...

    I have broken a few needles in the past! But since I started buying better quality ones (Piecemakers and John James), none have broken. And I love these brands, they are all I use now.

    Interesting list!

    Lelia said...

    Luved reading your post -- and, yes, I break needles. I own a lot of them & tend to get the 28 & 26 petites. The eye will bend, and eventually snap. I've tried larger needles [24s] and longer needles -- but, switch back to the petites.

    If I'm out stitching, I just take some needles, thread heaven & scissors with me. When I'm at home, I have a whole array of 'must have' stuff!!

    enjoy your weekend

    Barbara said...

    Those kangaroo scissors are so cute!

    Your list is a great one. I do have some of the items (like a seam ripper!) and others are ones I've meant to get (like pinking shears).

    I hope you're feeling cheerier. Sending happy thoughts your way!!