Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday morning coming down

Since blogger seems cooperative this morning, I'll take a shot at re-doing yesterday's post. Rissa asked about the toenail clippers specifically, so I'll start with that. I use the big ones with the flat, rather than curved, cutting edge to trim off shanks on buttons (metal and plastic), to cut jump rings off, to cut off loops on charms if I'm gluing rather than sewing them, and pretty much anything that's small enough to fit between the blades. I use them as wire cutters and to clip those infernal plastic tag hangers too. They're cheap, strong and you can really get some good pressure behind them because of the handles. And they're smaller than a pair of wire cutters or pliers so I can put a pair close to each place where I use them. They work pretty well as tweezers to pick up little bitty things too. I also use baby safety nail clippers to clip threads with when I take handwork to sit in the doctor's office or where ever. They give a very clean cut edge, they're small and they don't take them away from you at the airport. You're also not in much danger of clipping anything besides the thread. It's REALLY handy if you put one of those tiny eyeglass repair magnifying glasses on the chain of the clippers too. I never realized how handy they were, or how much I would use a magnifying glass until I actually had one available.

I keep my needles in an empty TicTac box in my "mobile" handwork kit. I like the tight-fitting lid on it, I can see what I'm going after, and again, it's small. I also keep a very small, brightly colored feather in the kit so when I have to thread the needle again, I can stick the point of it up through the shaft of the feather and not worry about where I put the damn thing. I'm the world's worst about sticking it in the corner of the piece I'm working on while I cut a new piece of thread then spending 5 minutes looking for the needle. Another advantage is that the feather sort of clings to the fabric so I don't drop it as often, and it gives me something substantial to hang onto when trying to thread it.

I keep the spool(s) of thread I'm using in old spice bottles. Depending on the spools and the bottles, I either have one per spool or 2 spools in one. I usually have a spool of regular sewing thread and one of a beading thread. I just run the end through the holes in the top and I'm good to go when I need more thread in the needle. Pull just enough thread out for the top of the spice bottle to catch it and it won't fall back into the bottle either. And when I drop it, thread doesn't unspool all over the floor. On the days I'm really organized and thinking ahead, I thread 3 or 4 needles onto the spool in good light at home so I don't have to try to thread them in questionable light somewhere else. When I need the next length of thread, I just pick up the first needle in line and unspool the thread, letting the additional needles fall below the cut line. One more advantage is that you can knot the cut end coming off the spool so the spare needles stay on the thread too. It takes a little getting used to knotting the "wrong" side of the cut, but the needles are already on it. It's really handy for bad eyesighted people like me, and surprisingly easy. Every time I forget to do it beforehand, I kick myself and SWEAR I'll remember the next time. Yeah, right.

For bead storage and convenience for individual projects, I use the pill stackers that screw bottom to top to each other. I just pick which beads I need for each piece and reconfigure the stacks to only take the ones I need. No holes in little plastic bags, no big clunky bead trays, and if you ever spill one, it's only that one. Can you tell that dropping things seems to be a major consideration in my choice of tools? And they don't get mixed in with the ones in the adjoining compartment either. You can get them at the Dollar Tree or you can pay $3.50 for the same thing at Michael's.

As for the kit itself, I think that's purely personal preference and depends on the size of the work being hauled around as much as it does what's in the kit itself. I personally prefer an old purse or bag with a flat, stiff bottom, even if I have to put a piece of cardboard in it myself. Purses tend to have pockets and I like that. Purses also tend to have top closures and as much as I love canvas bags, they generally have neither. The one absolute for me is a shoulder strap, backpack style if possible. I don't normally carry a purse so my hands are full of car keys and cell phone and credit card/ID case. And if you get a bag (of any description) that you really, really like you can always do some of your own work on it. You'd be surprised at the number of people who will ask about it. It's a good way to showcase some of your own stuff without having to drag out the project du jour for every interested stranger.


Ferret said...

Wow what a lot of good ideas. Thanks a lot. I especially like the feather idea. So simple.

Delta said...

It's REALLY simple to remember after you sit on a couple of needles, too!

Lisa said...

Thanks for all the great ideas. You made me laugh, too, with all the "not dropping it" references. lol