Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How Much Thread??

As a teacher I have observed different reactions to thread length for years. This came under a spotlight at a recent show where I taught. For years, I have included the yardage required to complete the project.  I also include if the project will work if half the thread is parked somehow.  (More on that later.)  I always tell students to take the longest thread they are comfortable with.  I like to use just over a wingspan which, although it differs for everyone, is also commonly the amount you arms will work best.  Taking a project length does not work well for most people as you are asking for problems.

Long thread lengths tend to tangle more,  it tends to catch something on your work space or on your project, it slows you down pulling over and over thru the beads, and it wears on the thread in many designs causes freaying or weak spots.  Recently, I have about decided I should stop telling people how much a project requires if only to protect people from themselves and unnecessary frustration.  

I watched one lady struggle in class with 5 yards of thread. I suggested she "park" half on the Spoolie I had provided. She didn't want to do that. Ok I said, suit yourself I thought and I moved on to other students.  She continued to struggle. I suggested she cut the thread.  "No I'll manage."  I continued with other students. During this time, I showed several how I like to add thread.  I untangled "Miss Stubborn" a few more times. I suggested cutting again...
Finally after wasting a couple hours she relented and let me cut a lot off. It wasn't 15 minutes before she said "This is much better."  At the end she said she should have listened, the shorter thread was a lot better.  Ok, we learn a LOT of our lessons the hard way. 

I get it, many bead weavers struggle adding thread. Others dread threading needles over and over.  (Please try the Tulip needles if you have problems threading needles - they are easier and worth the extra money.)  For whatever reason, people often take more thread than is easy to work with.   It is actually counter productive.  The time lost adding thread is nothing compared to the frustration of tangles, knots, and pulling over and over to use a long piece of thread.

The only exception I make to taking a little over a wingspan is when I can park thread. That can be done many ways. I like the little Spoolies, but a sponge roller works well, as do little embroidery floss holders. You can take twice your comfortable length, find the mid point, and store half the thread on your device of choice winding it from the middle to one end.  This technique works similar to a bead stopper with the storage device acting as the bead stop.   The thread is then available to use later without weakening the thread, slowing you down pulling over and over or taking out knots. This works well on constructed designs which go back and forth or on a design which works equally well in both directions. It does not work with all designs.

The long and short (pun intended), is that it is a happy day when you figure out that shorter is better for most of us when working with needle and thread.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bead and Button 2017

The highlight of my summer is often the shipment of my class proposals, all carefully packaged in a box, to Bead and Button for the following year.  Many changes are coming in 2017, some beyond the results of the election this year.  In the bead world, Bead and Button changed the requirement for returning teachers to ship the physical samples to Wisconsin for the initial evaluation.  I understand, it is expensive to ship all those projects back!   Initially, I welcomed the change.  No projects to send, no worry about my samples gone for so many months.  This is a bonus for their repeat teachers who are bead designers sending in proposals.

However, for me it was also a bit of a let down in some strange way to mail my class proposals, as paper only, in a flat priority envelope.  I have done it this way since before 2003!  (My first two years they did not pick any of my proposals.)  Ultimately, not mailing in is a good thing as some of the proposals this year are also being taught elsewhere before B&B and now I won't have to have as many samples.  As I entered one last piece in the system on August 10th, there were 541 proposals in the system.  I'm positive that many people wait until the very last minute so there will be many more by the deadline which has now been extended another week!  Lots of work for staff to evaluate and make selections.

I now anxiously wait until fall to hear which of my class proposals they select.  I like them all but I do have a couple favorites and I'm hopeful they will see it the same way.  I also have a several still on my bead mat unfinished.  I had to stop from creating anything else as I needed to prepare for my Artisan table and teaching at BeadFest Summer in Philly.  As usual,  I have mostly bracelet projects.  I tend toward bracelets because I cannot wear much around my neck any more.  Too many years with heavy pieces have taken their toll.  I'm not complaining, it is only a fact of my life.  It is somehow hard for me to design something I know I can't wear.  Here is some eye candy of my 2017 Bead and Button class proposals.  And now the WAIT begins.