General Hints and
This is a collection of general
& miscellaneous hints and tips that don't require a page unto their
own or "fit" elsewhere, but nevertheless are handy to know and use. It's
in list format, in no particular order:
Lay the thread where it needs to be,
and then take the stitch to keep it there.
Always pay attention to the work that you have done in addition to
"where you are going". Groom the threads as you work, being sure that
they are laying in proper position.
Always check to see that the marking
lines have not been skewed out of place due to handling of the ball
before you stitch around them.
If your working thread is knotting or tangling, try any or all of these:
let the cut length dangle from one end to untwist before threading the
needle. Before or after threading the needle, "strip" the thread by
running it between your thumbnail (gently) and index finger. Use a
shorter working length. Pull the thread more slowly through to complete
the stitch. Lightly place your left thumb over the insertion point of
the thread for the stitch as you pull through to help straighten and
avoid knotting. Turn the needle in the required direction to "untwist"
the thread before taking the stitch (many stitchers automatically give a
turn before each stitch).
If the mari is denting, and/or the
marking threads are being pulled out of alignment, you are stitching
If you are having difficulty threading the needle, trim it to a clean
cut edge. If you are always having trouble threading the needle, you
probably need a larger-eyed needle. Ditto if the thread keeps fraying
Keep aware of the "whole" as you
stitch, don't just focus on the small area you are working on. Use
adjacent marking lines to keep visual orientation to be sure things
are straight, perpendicular, etc. Set extra pins to help, if needed,
Keep a "blank" (that is, wrapped and divided/marked, but not stitched)
C8 and C10 mari in your stuff and use them to visualize pattern
placements and such when contemplating designs. Alternatively, use
Dylite (that is the "harder and smooth Styrofoam") balls along with
permanent markers and ink out the basic markings on a C8 and one for a
C10. Using other colors, highlight out the face/lozenge shapes that the
divisions create. Either way, the marked mari are a great help to get
oriented when working patterns from other source notes, or even for
working up your own compositions.
It happens to all of us - finger stuck with needle or pin and now there
is a blood spot on your work. If it's a fresh stain, try dabbing
carefully with hydrogen peroxide, repeating as needed. Don't saturate
the area and keep to as small an area as needed; then dab with clear
water. Keep the moisture to a minimum to avoid colors running. OR
Put a yard or two of white cotton sewing thread (no color and no
polyester) in your mouth to wet it with saliva; form it into a wet wad.
Roll it on the blood spot and it will "lift" the blood out. You
may need to do this two or more times, with a fresh thread each time,
but it should eventually pull out all the stain. Dab with clear water to
rinse. This is a tried and true tip handed down through generations, and
yes, biologically it does work, but it has to be the blood and saliva
have to "match" - be from the same person.
At times, yes a needle puller is a help - whatever you use, be sure it
will not damage your needle (like saw-toothed/serrated jaw needle-nosed
pliers can). There are commercial needle pullers available at notion
racks, but things around the house like a piece of rubber glove, rubber
jar opener, or non-skid shelf liner also work great. However, needing
help pulling the needle through the mari should be the exception, not
the rule. If you routinely are using help, your mari wrapping is too
tight. Loosen up a bit when prepping the dodai mari. You may also be
using too short a needle - try one a tad longer.
When ending off threads, always try to bring up your thread (to finish
off) and cut it, in either an area that would be covered by the design
or in the matching color: if you are working on blue bring it up in the
blue before cutting.
Remember to take regular breaks from your work, for both your eyes and
body. Look up from your stitching and refocus on something farther away
for a minute or two on a regular basis. Likewise, stretch your hands,
arms and shoulders. It wouldn't hurt to stand up and walk about a little
For a simple little extra, try adding in a blending filament with your
wrapping thread on the last rounds. Either hold the filament together
with the single strand thread, or complete the thread wrap and then add
a random light wrap of blending filament. Handle the mari gently until
you have placed the marking lines. That little bit of metallic pop on
the surface can be great.
Darker threads tend to "plump" a bit in the dyeing process, so no, it's
not your imagination that dark threads can seem "thicker" than lighter
colored ones. You may need to an an extra row or two of lighter when
combining colors in designs in order for things to balance out (not
always, but if you do, then by all means go ahead).
There are some patterns that require even circles at the poles, and you
can best achieve this by using a circular template to stitch around. You
can pre-draw a bunch in varied standard sizes, and make them out of more
durable heavy paper or light weight cardboard, or laminate them. Be sure
to find the exact center of the template to pin through, and that you
are pinning that to the exact center pole of the mari.
If your books begin to take a beating, and/or you wish to have them lay
flat when open, the paper-bound type can be taken to an office goods
store and have them spiral bound. Some have also had the Japanese
books "rebound" into English orientation doing this, but you need to
carefully supervise that it's done properly.
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