Sunday, 31 January 2010

A make a month 2010 - January - plus number of stitches

Have you noticed a nice blog button? It's a make a month 2010 button. Helen of Angharad has challenged us to stop hoarding the craft supplies and actually make something. She is now hosting a Flickr group and of course I have signed up.

They are medium sized pincushions. I have already made rings months ago, but didn't come around to make cushion parts (the process I do not care very much) but Helen's challenge gave me a reason to finish them. Of course making these small (they are medium sized but still small, as you can suppose) cushions doesn't make any dent in my stash though, it's a start.

Meri asked me something about the previous post of number of stitches. I am sorry I didn't make myself clear and here is an additional explanation:

The number of the stitches you make in one section of course depends on the size of the ring, number of the sections you are having, and the size of the thread you use. What I was trying to say is when you compare with the two identical sized rings stitched with the same thread, the number of the over all stitches varied depending on the number of the sections. The less sections (wider sections), the sharper the angle of the thread, the less over all stitches because an actual coverage of the thread becomes wider at the middle of the ring body

As for the recommended size of perle cotton for thimbles, I am sorry but I have no idea. As a matter of fact I have not ever seen any perle cotton other than size 5. In Japan there are not many choice where embroidery floss is concerned; there are size 25(6-strand floss) and size 5 and that's all. Of course there are Japanese embroidery silk floss, sashiko cotton, kogin cotton, temari thread, and other "stitching" thread (manufacturer called them so, not me) available, but no perle cotton. All I can say is the thread size should match the size of the ring. Size 5 perle cotton is definitely too big for a thimble. On the other hand you can use one strand of size 25 embroidery floss (closely the same size as silk hand sewing size 9) for a napkin ring if you like. It takes long time to finish it but you can make more delicate and intricate design than the one made with bigger thread.

Debi suggested on the number of stitches post to include two pictures to show how there is a greater distance across the thread when the angle is sharper. (Debi, I now understand what you meant) It's a great idea however, sadly, as you have all witnessed, my drawing using Paint is not up to the task. Perhaps I can get better result by hand drawing and scanning afterward. With these two pictures, it will make more sense easily. Thank you, Debi

Sidhepro mentioned the other day when she uploaded her "share your thimbles" photo, that her edges were not up to her expectation, that her down stroke was better than upstroke and so the bottom edge ended up the better stitch alignment. How you insert your needle decides how your stitch looks (and so does how you pull the thread, too) so if you are happy with your down stroke, or upstroke for that matter, more than the other, why don't you hold your ring upside down when you are doing less favored edge? Hold it upside down, insert the needle tip, turn it to the correct side up, then pull the thread. However, I do not like to do so, because it makes threads prone to all tangled up, especially you use more than four, but it's my personal opinion. Many people do this way, so why don't you, too?

I am very slow to respond to comments left but I read all. When I didn't make myself really clear in my "how I do" or you have a question, or just say hello, please don't hesitate to leave a comment. I love it when people respond to me :)

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Thimbles are all about geometry and trigonometric function

Today's post is one of my "how I do" series but a bit heavy on a technical side. It may not make sense clearly to you, but it's not your fault. English is not my first language and I have never participated in math class in English. I would appreciate it if you could let me know, after you read this, where and how to improve it so that it becomes easier for everyone to understand.

When I first made a thimble, I made a mistake by packing too many stitches in one section. The reason I tried to make too many is a simple misunderstanding. The centre of the ring is fatter than the top and bottom because of the padding, thus I thought I had to make more stitches so that the body of the ring is nicely covered. But I was wrong. Unless the angle of the thread is too extreme or the ring is unusually fat, you don't need to worry about whether you are making enough stitches for body coverage.

You may have noticed that I said "section" instead of "segment" as before to refer the space all the stitches are made. From now on I will call them sections although I don't plant to replace the words in the old posts at the moment.

Now, like origami, thimble making is much like geometry; simple zigzag thread forming various designs and number of sections, order of stitching, and to which directions to go decide the design. However how many stitches you make in one section depends on the angle of the thread. It's trigonometric function, sounds scary doesn't it.

The above is a diagram of simple bi-coloured scales, number of sections unknown. When I talk about the angle of the thread I usually mean angle a (not clearly appeared in the picture though) and I meant angle a when I left a comment on Debi's post however, it's easier actually to explain when concentrate on angle b so from now on, it's angle b when I say sharp or otherwise.

When you have less sections, in other word wider sections, in other word again more space to stitch, the angle of the thread becomes sharper like below;

When the angle of the thread becomes sharper, the more coverage the thread makes at the middle of the body because the width of the thread becomes wider.I have realized that my English is better than my drawing :( Does the picture make sense? A horizontal black line above is a position where the two threads cross, i.e. the fattest part of the body and segment line a is a width of a thread at the top of the base where you make a stitch, segment line b is also a width of the thread (in the same width naturally) but segment line c is an actual width that covers the body. The sharper the angle becomes, the wider the actual width of the thread at the middle of the body becomes. That means the size of the sections (or you can say the number of the sections) dictates how many stitches you have to make in one section. The narrower the sections the less coverage the thread makes at the middle, and more stitches required while the wider the sections the more coverage and less stitches. Actually you can calculate how many stitches you have to make if you like.

My mould is 50mm in circumference and when sections are 8, I make 20 stitches in one section and it makes total 160 stitches while when sections are 10, the number of the stitches in one section is 18 and it makes total 180 stitches. The difference is 20 which amazingly coincides the number of the stitches I make in one section of 8. The size of the base is the same but the total number of the stitches varies depending on the angle of the thread, i.e. number of the sections of the ring.

Having said that, when the angle is too sharp then what will happen? You are of course going to make less stitches but the coverage at the edges cannot catch up with the one at the middle so either you cannot fill all the section at the top/bottom of the ring with stitches or you have to make stitches rather sparsely. I don't think either option looks very good. You can adjust it a little by adding more padding at the centre, i.e. makes your thimble very fat, so that there would be more room at the middle of the ring. My limit is 7 segments for 50mm mould ring. Perhaps I can make do with 6 but not very sure if I like the result.

Here is a summary; as you see below two diagrame, the first one has sections half as small as the second one's , i.e. the second one's thread has to form a sharper angle.

I have merged two diagrams so that you could see the angles more clearly:

When you work with red thread for the first diagram, say you make 12 stitches in one section while with blue thread for the second diagram 21 stitches. Since the section of the second diagram is twice as wide as the first one, when compared you have to make 3 more stitches to fill the TWO sections of the first diagram, which is the same as ONE section of the second diagram, and this is all to do with the angle of the thread. The sharper the angle becomes, the more thread coverage at the middle, and as a result less stitches over all.

Of course you don't need to know all of this to make your thimbles but counting the number of stitches is vital to deviate to more complex designs. When you practice next time, why don't you count the stitches and see if you could always finish off with the same number of stitches? Knowing how many stitches you can make, or rather, you are planning to make, is essential for thimble making. When you can make exactly the same number of stitches every time, then you can make do with one or two more/less stitches in the same size section when the design requires it. Say I want stripes, a set of three rows of stitches stripes, like, a set of red, red, and white. As I told you, I make 20 stitches for 8 sections, that makes one stitch short so I try to pack a little and make 21 stitches, 7 set of 3. Maybe red, red, white stripes are too bright, and perhaps I would like to add another row of red after the final white, that requires total 22 stitches, 7set of 3 plus 1. Then I can either add two stitches on top of my usual 20, or make one less stitch, i.e. 19 stitches of 6 set of 3 plus 1. Both can work fine. Adding 2 to 20 is not difficult and it maintains the original design of 7 stripes while one less stitches is easier although it changes the design a little bit.

I will host another Share Your Thimbles for February. I am thinking to continue to limit the design to bi-coloured scales for one more month and then in March it will be anything you can make with forward stitches. So please count your stitches in February so that you will be ready to explore more complex designs in March. Happy stitching.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Share Your Thimbles January 2010 -closed-

The second Flickr group photo sharing is closed on 21st of January and we have 6 participants and total 11 thimbles. I am pleased that we have more people than the previous time.

Although we have 11 thimbles there are only 9 entry comments left. As I stated before, in order to participate in the lucky draw you have to leave a comment; 1 entry by 1 comment for 1 photo. So I numbered 3rd comment by Debi as 1 because first two are non-entry, and SunshineCraft as 9, and the winner is number 3, Shidepro, for her first ever thimble. Kat in Texas, AKA SidhePro, please e-mail me from my profile page for your mailing address.

I am going to host another photo sharing in February and I look forward to seeing your thimbles next month.

This is just FYI, I am working on the post about the number of the stitches in one segment. Please be patient with me. Hopefully I may be able to publish it next weekend.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Share Your Thimbles - January 2010

Some of you may be in the time zone where it's still 2009, but it's already 1st of January 2010 and I wish you and your family a very happy new year. Now, having said that, we can move to the more important part, that we are having another "share your thimbles" Flickr photo sharing this month, too.

The same rules as last month:

1. You have to make your own thimble(s) to upload.
2. The design is bi-coloured scales with two colours, no stripes or shading.
Mixed coloured or variegated thread is okay if you like the effect.
3. You can use any materials you like, thread wise or padding wise.
4. State the circumference of the mould, thread, padding in the description field.
5. You can make the ring in whatever size you like as long as you mention the size.
6. You can upload as many as you like.
7. The closing date is 21st of January 2010, Japan time.
Please note that it's 9 hours ahead of GMT in Japan.

Here is a link to Flickr group of "Share Your Thimbles".

As before I will draw one lucky person after closing the photo sharing pool on 21st of January and this time she/he will get this medium size pincushion I showed you the other day.

To enter the draw, you have to leave a comment on this particular post. One upload with one comment for one entry, so if you uploaded three photos and only left one comment, it counts one entry. Please mentioned your Flickr user name in the comment so that we can know which one is whose. To make things easier for me and clearer for everyone, please don't leave any non-entry comment on this particular post.

I look forward to your participation.
Happy stitching!