Sunday, June 21, 2015


All you 'sleep ins' are missing a refreshing show of the beautiful sunshine in a clear blue sky sprinkled with wispy white clouds.  I'm sitting here with my coffee loving it.

While looking over some of my Online Mystery Classes, the content, questions, comment, lessons, etc., for some reason I decided I wanted to talk a little about laying tools - so it's my blog I'll talk about what I want and here goes.

There is a plethora of tools available to us.  The Good Lord gave us our first laying tool - our fingers. Now admit it.  How many of us, when just working with 2 strands of thread or so, in a small area, depend on our finger to lay the threads?  It is easy, you don't have to go find the other laying tools so it is convenient, and it comes with the body if we are blessed - so no added costs.

I think there is an impression that we have a 'new' laying tool our there called a quill!  New? It is as old if not older than the finger.  But granted it has now been fancied up and embellished to be a beautiful addition to our toys that we must all have.  The poor ole porcupine won't recognize his own product. These points are very sharp and the tool is very sturdy yet flexible.

Other tools that I am experienced with are shown here.

After my fingers, one of the first laying tools I had used was the trolley needle.  It's that funny little metal thing that is second from the top.  The less expensive ones appear to be a large darning needle welded to a ring type apparatus to fit around your finger. I tried and tried but just couldn't get it to work.  I used it just as Lilas of Grip-It told me to and had the video demonstrating its use.  But somehow it just was not comfortable for me.  Then one day at a market in Nashville many, many years ago when we had INRG, I happened upon a room that had these beautiful pewter trolleys.  I chatted with the gentleman who had the booth - lovely British accent - and told him I loved and coveted his beautiful pewter trolley tools - but they just were not comfortable for me.  He, in his very gentle British way (cough, cough) informed me that 'you Americans use them all wrong!  They are supposed to be worn on the thumb!'  So I tried it that way.  Hmm, felt pretty good.  Then of course I felt free to purchase one since I now felt like I might actually use it.  Well, use it I did and I have loved the freedom of wearing it on my thumb ever since.  I don't have to drop or change my hand, etc., to lay my threads, it is right there. 

The very top one is a fancy one that has inlaid wood in the handle. While is it beautifully crafted it spends most of its life in the tool box of my needlepoint treasures.

The third one down is the one I use the most when I am working on my floor stand and have the freedom to use both hands.  It is my BLT inserted into a case.  The BLT is our version of the tekibari (sp?) and was created by Shay Pendray.   When I began having trouble with my rheumatoid arthritis, the little skinny tool became difficult to handle by itself and cramped my hands.  Well leave it to Tony at Fireside Stitchery to come to the rescue.  He molded this wonderful tool into beautiful acrylic handle with a top to keep the sharp point safe.  (The picture is of an older one that is a wood case that stored the BLT and it was not affixed permanently as it is in the acrylic one.) 

Next is a hair stick that is adorned with beautiful beaded embellishments.  The point is not quite as sharp as the others but it was pretty so I added another version to my list.

A laying tool that is missing from those above is the fantastic glass one.  It is rather pricey (I believe $100+) but it has a lifetime guarantee.  Drop it, break it, return it, no questions - as I am told.  Sharon G used to swear by this one and even created a needlepoint holder (lanyard type) for us to wear around out necks to protect and store them.  This one I'll just have to take everyone's word on its attributes because I have a porcelain floor, I sling and throw things, don't look where I set down my tool 'cause I'm busy looking at where I want to do the next stitch, etc., etc., so I would be breaking one at least on a weekly basis if not daily.  Too much inconvenience for me.

To use the laying tool, I personally, bring my threads to the top of the canvas.  I create some slack in the threads I twist my needle to let them fall as naturally as they can by being confined in that tiny little hole enclosure at the end of the needle and squeezed into that little hole in the canvas.  Then, depending if I am laying my stitches from the top to the bottom or from the bottom to the top, I lay them on the canvas, pulling the thread more taut at this point.  I place the laying tool about a 1/2" or so from the threads entrance through the canvas on top of the thread and hold it flat against my canvas.  This keeps the threads fairly flat and untwisted. I take my needle and place it through the next canvas hole where I want my stitch to end.  I pull the thread through until there are a couple of inches left from my laying tool and this creates a loop.  Holding the thread off the canvas (I don't want to rub my thread against the rough canvas finish) I pull the loop tighter and I stroke the threads until the are aligned next to each other - not twisting or laying on top of each other-  I then hold the thread against the canvas near the canvas hole to keep the threads aligned, pull the thread, gently lifting the laying tool to permit the thread to move to its final destination.  

Separate all stranded threads first then put back together.

Keep in mind while you are critique my stitches that I am holding a camera with one hand and trying to stitch/hold laying tool, etc., with the other - so it is what it is but you should get the idea!

Okay - big failure - I tried to video this process - my hubby held the camera - not too well but not too bad either.  Then I saved it and then tried to download it.  All I got is this icon of the movie that I thought I inserted but apparently it doesn't work that easily.  Oh well, I tried!  I'm not giving up though!

There are tons of free videos out there demonstrating different ways to use the laying tool  (obviously this video isn't one of them) so you should be able to find one that is comfortable for you!  Keep looking.  This is one of those things that practice will make it become more comfortable for you to the point you just do it without thinking about it. 

If you ever get the opportunity to take a class with Sandy Rodgers she has a very unique way of handling her threads when laying them - she's a master at it! 

Last but not least, I will share with you may most favorite laying tool of all !

No, this beautiful bed is not mine - pile all that stuff in the middle, on the floor, etc., then it will look more like mine.
Have a great day and remember to stitch with a smile!




LIZ said...

Terrific description even without the video!

Sandy Arthur said...

Thanks Liz.

Anonymous said...

You can make a nice tool by finding a large needle and a large bead that fits your hand slide the needle into the bead till the eye catches and fill the bead with glue and then put a string of small beads into the glue for a tail if you want one and wa la you now have a new tool
Good luck. Kitty