Yesterday, we introduced the three considerations and talked about number one.
Today we will begin #2, a look at tools, a very important part of coiling.
Common tools used by coilers:
• Sewing needle
• Pliers or grabbers
• Binder (actually a material, because it is “used up,” but we will call it a tool so I can cover it under #2!)
Scissors generally should be small and sharp. Embroidery scissors are good. Sawing away at whatever you want to cut takes extra time and leaves ragged ends in your work. If you are using scissors to prepare your core material, they should probably be large and very sharp. Sharpness is key. Find a scissors sharpener, or buy new scissors. Blunt scissors are hard on your hands, and take extra time.
Sewing Needles. I don’t know why a #16-18 blunt needle is the most often used needle for coiling, perhaps because the most popular book says it is what is to be used. Perhaps it is because it has a large eye, which will accept raffia and other broad binders. I suppose the blunted end is SUPPOSED to push the pine needles aside, rather than piercing them and making raggedy snarls on your basket. But, in my opinion, the #16-18 blunted needle far from the ideal coiling needle.
If you are coiling normal sized baskets, and using something like pine needles as a core, you should be using the largest possible needle for speed and accuracy in coiling. I use the biggest needle the project will allow, and really love for them to be at least 2 inches long. A larger needle is ergonomically sounder. It is better for your body. It is easier to grasp and to find when pushing through the coils (on the other side of the coil.) This both saves time and it saves your little clenching and clasping muscles. You may not be having trouble with them now, but eventually, almost everyone does… read>>>>repetitive motion injuries: carpal tunnel, etc. Also affected by aging and joint deterioration.
Using a large needle also means you can either grasp or push your needle more easily, with less damage to the needle. This is important. I like YARN DARNERS for my work. They have a sharp point, and an eye large enough to accept yarn (hence the name.) I still try to push my needle in between the pine needles, I try not to just puncture them all. But the larger smooth needle goes through the pine needles more easily, and allows for faster coiling.
If coiling miniatures, the needle should still be as long as possible, though fine so as not to tear the core. I prefer quilter’s golden eye basting needles, which have a large eye to accept many binders, are slender enough for miniature projects, and are still about 2” long.
Sewing Needles should be sharp and not corroded, to reduce drag. The exception to this is when you want to specifically use a blunted needle, because your core material is very fragile. In this case, buy and use a blunted large needle, don’t use a sharp that has gone dull. There is a huge difference.
I also recommend the use of curved needles when a needle will not "reach" where you want it to go. Curved needles come in all sizes. If you inadvertently bend one of your favorite straight needles, don't throw it out! They make great curved needles.
I would love to hear about your favorite needles and cutting tools, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks
The next post will continue talking about tools.
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