So I’ve been doing a little embroidery lately (which is an odd statement from She Who Doth Not Embroider, but it’s true). And then…. loopies. Grrrrr!
That is the loop that’s left over after you gently tease a knot out of the back of your embroidery. If you’re like me, you were cursing the whole time. So then what?
Now, the right answer is to unpick your embroidery back to the original sin, make the loopy go away, and accept your penitence redoing your work. If you’re a normal-ish sort, you try tugging at successive stitches hoping you can work it out without unpicking. When you realize you’ve locked your stitches quite thoroughly, you begrudgingly unpick because that is The Right Way To Do It(tm).
If you’re a strong believer in doing things the right way, congratulations! You’re a better creature than I. If I was planning to show you the right way to do things, I wouldn’t have called it a hack. ;)
The thing is, I’m not convinced I seriously enjoy blackwork, so I’m not convinced I want to unpick it just so I can redo it. There’s no part of me that’s thinking, “Great! I’ll have had practice this time! I’m sure I can do it even better!” No. Uh-uh. I mostly like embroidery once it’s done, not so much while I’m doing it. I enjoy the spacial problem-solving challenge of blackwork, but I generally feel like that’s solved by the time I’ve found the errant knot. Unpicking three full letters does not appeal.
So, if you’re ready to embrace the Wrong Way, it goes like this:
This is the hardest part of this entire operation. Maybe it’s because I prefer needles with smaller eyes, maybe it’s because I used a shorter bit of scrap thread, maybe it’s because I did both immediately after teasing the gosh darn knot out, while trying to get pics. I dunno. I cursed a lot. What can I say? Embroidery doesn’t turn me into a peaceful, zen-loving human being.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m treating this like a proper thread-end in blackwork. Except it’s a loop, and I need to use a leader to work with it. It’s cool.
Honestly, the back of my blackwork is kinda crap anyway. Hijynks like this just help me hide the bits where I missed a thread.
It’s a funny thing – I loved embroidery when I was little. Like, 5-7 years old little. I think I loved it because it was a way to create something pretty. (I did a lot of cross-stitch with kittens. I even counted instead of using pre-printed.). Then one of my favorite great-aunties (miss you, Aunt Gin!) showed me how to embroider “correctly.” No knots. The back should look as good as the front. Take out your mistakes and do it over until it’s all right. Heard that before?
My Italian great grandmother had a different approach: she tied knots so things would survive washing. (She did a lot of pillowcase embroidery.) I have no idea what the back of her workings looked like. Quite sensibly, she lined her work so no one ever saw the back. Almost a century later, the pillow cases mom inherited are still fine. They’ve gone through washing machines for decades.
As a teacher that I dearly respect once said, “Well, that’s what the lining’s for: to hide all the shitty bits.” I’ve spent decades hating embroidery because, no matter how much I loved my great-auntie, I couldn’t live up to the standards that were being set. It was like … work. If you have the same hang-up, I propose a new attitude. If the back’s a mess, find a way to make the ugly go away: hide the weird, or, barring that, drop a lining in.
Did it get done? Great. Embroidery accomplished. ;)