Feb 19, 2010

Pop! (Uguisu reflects on Ume cont.)

THAT is not the sound one wants to hear when stitching on fabric in a Japanese embroidery frame.

JE and English flat frames are designed to make the ground fabric drum tight as possible.  Several reasons for this:  make a surface that is easier to place stitches exactly where they should go, so the stitching will shrink a little closing distances between the layed thread when released from the frame after pasting, and finally, make a flat surface the embroider may look down on.  When I first began stitching JE, I really struggled with the angle at which we are taught to stitch from.  Bending over a frame is not a natural thing for a Westerner to do!  I'm so glad that I did learn to stitch this way as I find my work comes better than I expect almost every time.  My logic is that all those years of tradition couldn't be improved upon (too much :))

So... I was stitching along one evening, sinking the ends of the Katayori when I heard quiet a loud little "pop".  All froze around me.  The fire, my rambunctious chocolate lab Cocoa, my old pup Clay, and even husband.  This was definitely not a sound one wants to hear.  Even worse than hearing the ping of dropping one of your JE needles.  An in-depth inspection began and I quickly found this little tear where the lacing thread had once been.

How can this happen?  The fabric can be too old or damaged in some way.  The lacing thread can be too thick.  I could have not been using a large enough needle when plunging the katayori so the hole was not large enough for the thread to pass putting pressure on the fabric.  An instrument (like a laying tool or scissors) could have damaged thread or fabric.  The list really can go on.

In this case it appears that perhaps I was not using a large enough needle when plunging the katayori and was really stressing the fabric.  Gosh, I hate it when I do not thing things through!

The great news is that there is a technique that can fix this.  After ALL the hours and fun I've put into this piece I'd hate to discard it simply because of one little flaw.  When the thread popped or better description yet, when the fabric tore, it made my ground fabric too lose to stitch.  What is needed is another pass of lacing thread with a second lacing thread.  I know some embroiderers who automatically do this second lacing as a precaution with every piece.  Perhaps I'll start doing this as well, we'll see.

Susan Steven "Supplementary Notes for Japanese Embroidery" book has a great description of how to do double lacing correctly so I won't go into too much detail on how it's done.  The picture above shows the second lacing.  I'll do another post on Sunday with a better picture as I realized too late that this one does not really do a good job of showing the reinforcement (husband away with the camera).

Second stringing complete!  Fabric drum tight.  (Remember to check your tension every time you stitch!).  Onto Goldwork next post.

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