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 General Hints and Tips   

        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 too tightly.

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 rapidly.

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, as well.

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 bit, either!

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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Last updated 1/2014 © 1998 - 2014 TemariKai.com, G. Thompson/PuffinStuff, Inc.