Using magic threads.
Q1. What is a magic thread? I can’t remember.
A1. A magic thread is a loop of thread you put in place where you have to make sewing. You put the loop there as you work the trail in the first direction, then when you come back in the opposite direction, the sewing is easily made by passing the relevant bobbin through the magic loop and pulling both ends of the magic thread so that the thread from the bobbin comes back through the pinhole as a loop, and you can then pass the other bobbin of the pair through that loop. (I hope that is (a) right and (b) comprehensible). It isn’t essential because you can catch the thread from the bobbin through the pinhole with a crochet hook, but magic threads are easier and less fiddly.
Unwaxed dental floss makes a great “magic thread” in tatting! Especially in its little box with the built in cutter!
Q2. What is the purpose of this thread and how do you actually do it, is it necessary?
A1. Here is the quote from the instructions “Hang the outer passives of the inner cloth stitch fan (The shorter length of gold thread) on pin 1 & push it to the right. Hang the cloth stitch fan worker on the same pin & put the bobbins down the left of the previous pair. Cross the middle two threads once (left over right) and INSERT A MAGIC THREAD, if required under both of the threads to the right OR left of the pin.
A2. A magic thread is not necessary but definitely worth learning to use – it is used to join the end to the beginning when you finish – instead of using a crochet hook. Take about half a metre of thread (preferably in a different colour, so you can recognise it easily), double it up and knot the two ends together. Loop the doubled-up magic thread under the worker & passive – then you just pin it out of the way. (You might need to move the pin as you work your way around). When you get to the end, you pop one bobbin from each pair through the loop end of the magic thread then pull on the knot end. This pulls a loop of thread through the beginning loop, so you can tie off the ends in the same way as you would with a crochet hook. Hope this helps -it’s easy if you see it demonstrated but harder to explain in words.
Q. Does anyone have a reference to a description of how to use “magic threads” when beginning a piece that is to be joined at the end i.e. a square or circular edging – in a book somewhere? Or, does anyone have a good way with words and can describe it in simple terms
A1. Cut a length of about half a meter of thin thread for each pair of bobbins. Fold in half. Loop this fold between the bobbins before or as you start using them for the first time. When you have finished your piece and you’re around to your magic threads at the beginning again, lengthen your bobbin threads, cut off one bobbin (think about whether you need a twist in these bobbins before joining when you select which bobbin), put it through the folded loop and using the raw ends of your folded thread, pull the bobbin thread through. Knot off as usual. Beats poking about with a crochet hook or lazy susan!
A2. When doing a fine piece, i.e. pins close together, at the end with threads from bobbins and magic threads and pins all in a small space things can get a little crowded and confused. So when I use magic threads I usually use three colours, for example Blue, Apricot and Green. I use them in that sequence – BAG for short. When I get to the end if I have just used an apricot thread then the next one to look for is G – green.
Use light/pastel shades, but definitely use 3 or 4 colours in sequence, so you can see which is which.
When is it time to remove the first pins? Or is it better to leave in & push them down when nearing completion?
Leave the first inch or so at least of pins in, and push them right down into the pillow. Even with magic threads, the start will pull up off the pillow and spoil the tension unless its pinned down.
I LOVE using magic threads … I learnt about them back in 1993 when Christine Springett was here in Perth teaching Chrismas decorations. In my tool box I have a small piece of card which has them wrapped around ready for whenever I need them…. I rarely use a crochet hook for the very reason you said Angela… Splitting the threads …If I’m not using magic threads then I always use my “lazy Susan”.
I used magic threads in tatting for many years to finish off ends, so the idea just presented itself to me when I got into trouble with The Tree. I had to use them because in several places, you had to work certain ground stitches through which a gimp passed, before the actual gimp reached that area. By laying in a doubled over length of brightly coloured cotton as you worked those ground stitches, you could then unwind the thread from the gimp bobbin, put it through the loop and pull it through the ground stitches when the gimp finally reached that area. Then wind the gimp thread back on to its bobbin. Messy. For the magic thread, I would wind from the cut ends of the doubled over thread onto a spare bobbin, and put a safety pin through the loop at the other end so that the ends didn’t “disappear” into my work. As I said, it got rather messy at times.
Whether it would work in your Beds, Liz, I could not say. Certainly, Elwyn Kenn’s Bucks “loop” would not have worked with The Tree, it was far too complicated. Sometimes I would have 4 or 5 magic threads embedded in the work at the same time!
Is this another way of doing the Kenn “Loop” gimp? I am doing the Loop version with my Beds, at the moment. (Purists will be having fits, I expect – but it saves putting in new gimps for every little petal!)