Jul. 9th, 2017

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“Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times? As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar.”
- Cornelia Funke, Inkspell
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via http://ift.tt/2u6gC0G:Keep Embroidery Fabric Tension Even by Binding Your Hoop:

Update on trying to teach myself tambour embroidery: this hoop does not hold fabric for shit. I had to get a hoop with a stand, because you need one hand to push the needle through, and the other to wrap the thread on the other side, and I didn’t have a third hand to hold the hoop in place. So, this expensive hoop with a stand? Well, the stand was expensive, I have no complaints, but it’s just a cheap wooden hoop and it can’t get tight enough to hold fabric. I had to give up on the thin fabric I started with, but I’d gone up through quilting cotton and was on to a heavy cotton and it was still slipping so much that I couldn’t get a reasonable tension on it.

So, I cut up a t-shirt into strips, and bound the hoop like it says to in this tutorial. In the hoop’s defense, it came with instructions for assembling it, and then also had somewhat-incomprehensible instructions for making some kind of hoop-cushioning out of muslin, like you were just gonna immediately do that. So I guess it’s not actually meant to work as-is, and you’re supposed to cushion it. But I couldn’t understand the instructions as written, so here’s this tutorial instead.

The very name of tambour embroidery, referring to a drum-head, indicates that the fabric has to be held very taut for it to work. I am still having such terrible problems with the hook snagging the fabric as I pull it through, no matter what I do, that I can’t even complete a sample doodle of embroidery– but I see how it works, and I understand, and I can tell that the problem is that the cloth sags, and then there’s nothing to pull against so the hook can clear the hole. You pull, and the fabric slumps over toward the hook, and the hook snags it, every single time. So you pull harder, and it snaps the fabric’s threads, and sometimes while it’s at it, snaps the working thread of your embroidery too.

So: the takeaway lesson here is, don’t even try to learn tambour embroidery if you don’t have an excellent frame. If you can push on the embroidery surface and it sags, then your frame’s not tight enough: throw everything away and save yourself the bother.

(Or: do something like this so your hoop is excellent. We’ll see if it worked, I have yet to get myself together to set it back up. I want to start learning how to do beads, but I’m not going to bother if I can’t master the basic stitch. If this doesn’t work I don’t know what I’ll do.)

As a palate-cleanser I spent an hour or so last night working regular embroidery, which I normally do without a hoop, and it was very pleasant and I’m not as slow as I remember myself being.
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petronellarose replied to your link: Keep Embroidery Fabric Tension Even by Binding…

I hope it works! I had to stop using wooden hoops for my cross-stitch as the tension wasn’t enough, changed to q-snaps which work much better.

*sigh* It… helped. I think just like anything, experienced practitioners of an art are fond of saying “any material will do, anything you want”, when really, some materials are easier to work with than others, and some combinations.

It doesn’t help that most embroidery tutorial sites are full of that sort of thing, and then go on with specific examples that are these unobtainable specialty items. “Any fabric is fine, I use $100/yd evenweave linen that I personally import from France through one of my contacts in the textile industry there!” “Any thread will do, I prefer this thing with a name in a language you don’t speak, and I get it from a site you’ve never heard of, I just have it lying around, like you do, it’s made of unicorn tail hair and wrapped in pure gold but I’m not worried and can afford to use it for just practice. Can’t everyone?”

Understandably, the sorts of people who have whole websites dedicated to tutorials about hand embroidery are the sorts of people who have $100/yd evenweave linen lying around.

I have a pair of old boxer shorts that the elastic went and I cut up for scrap, and a box full of reclaimed denim from jeans, and a set of those off-brand variegated pearl cottons in the discount rack from JoAnn’s, and some spools of thread that were my grandmother’s, so when you said “any”, I really took that to mean the dictionary definition of “any”, not “any item from your carefully-curated expensive stash of specialty items”.

Old boxer shorts, and new quilting cotton, seem not to be ideal for the novice practitioner. I can see where my problems are coming from, I think sort of, but it seems to me that a different set of materials would at least eliminate these problems until I have the hang of it. Having to yank the hook through every stitch isn’t really a good way to learn. 

But the wrapping on the embroidery hoop has… helped? Maybe? It’s hard to tell, I still have to jerk the hook through to break the substrate fabric’s fibers that it hooks every time regardless of how straight I hold the hook coming through. 
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“It took an older man saying point-blank “I like giving you advice” for me to realize that yes, that’s the bit you like. Not being helpful to me, but the sound of your authority reverberating in the ears of a younger woman.”
- Anna Kendrick (via yayfeminism)
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Well. I had horrible sinus pain earlier, very weird, not typical for me, but there was a ton of wind and I feel like that’s indicative of a pressure change in the atmosphere? I don’t know, it was cripplingly painful. I tried to take a nap, but the wind was so loud, and I’ve lived in a yurt so long (I’m not, I’m in my house currently, but the reflex is there I think) that I kept starting awake in terrible anxiety when it gusted. I also get that sometimes, when I try to nap when I’ve actually had enough sleep, even if I’m drowsy– I’ll just lie there all anxious and dozy and it’s actually the worst. 

Anyway. I gave up on napping, and my sinuses were better, so I went and blew my nose and there was a lot of semi-dry blood in it but I’d never had a nosebleed, so that was weird, and also not usual for me.

I decided to get off my ass and cook. So now I’ve made two pies, both of which will be served cold at a later date. I literally spent four hours cleaning, prepping, cooking, cleaning, and still cooking, and then I let Dude make tonight’s dinner (one of the pies is a bacon-and-egg potato pie for tomorrow– I’d link to the recipe, but it’s the NYT, if you Google it and click through you can look at the recipe, but if you follow a direct link, you have to create an account and sign in. Fuck the New York Times, for many reasons, but this too, so Google “Treflai” and do not let Google autocorrect you to “trifle”. It’s really called Treflai, and it’s from September 11 198…8?… and it is one of the signature dishes of my childhood. My mother simplified the recipe greatly, and I’ll get a copy of hers one day; I thought I did, but had to Google it instead– I simplified it a bit, but also added onions to the bacon because having eaten this a lot, I thought it could probably use it).

While I was messing around with pie crust bullshit– and I discovered that if you just follow Joy of Cooking’s basic pie crust recipe but do it in a food processor, that’s just fine, there’s a specific one they intend you to use with a food processor (for puff pastry) but you can just do a regular pie crust that way if you don’t have a stand mixer, which I don’t– I made a fruit pie too. So– blueberry pie.

We’ll eat the blueberry pie tonight and tomorrow night and probably the night after, and the treflai for dinner tomorrow and lunch the day after, and I feel very organized but also rather tired. Somehow, at the farm, I can pull off that level of cooking every day. Today, I couldn’t even make dinner on top of that. I let Dude do it– shrimp and pasta with cream sauce and a bunch of garlic. 

Tonight’s excitement is probably going to be the next episode of Twin Peaks Season 3; to prepare for it, Dude just gave me a half-hour soliloquy on all the episodes I missed while I was out of town, which is way more boring than you’d expect.



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