an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators
I’ve been working on samples for the Zigged Band tutorial for the Volume I updates, and the soon-to-come Pattern Library.
I’m paying close attention to the process, and noting the points of choice, the places that people go wrong… the counts, the sizes. Huge amounts of noticing has gone into Zigging and Zagging over the past year, as people all over the world have contributed their sizing and experience. It’s been fun. And I can’t wait to show you the wonderful sizing chart that Cath Thomas put together.
Here are a few peeks of my samples.
See the short threads left in my piece in progress, below? People have many different preferences for handling thread tails, thread lengths and thread changes. But it’s really just common sense- be smooth, be secure, and don’t use trashed thread.
For me, when it comes to thread length, I try to be practical. I do a lot of work with my hands- every extra thread pull counts against the cumulative toll on my shoulders, wrists, and my hardest-working hand. Excessively long threads use a lot of extra energy to handle, pull, and untangle. So I never use a thread longer than a meter, which is the space between my lap and my hand, extended into the air. One long pull, or two shorter ones.
And for me, leaving long tails simply leaves thread in the path of my current stitches, and I waste energy and motion teasing them out of my loops. And, because I use shorter threads, and so have more join points, cutting the tails too early leaves vulnerable structural spots that can no longer be seen.
I weave in well to start and stop, and then cut my tails to about a half inch as soon as I have the next round or two well-established. I leave those little short pieces in place until I’m ready for a photograph or until the piece is finished. They are markers for me- they tell me where not to anchor new structure and where not to start new threads (try not to overlap thread changes in one area, or you might get a lumpy spot).
Sorting the Zigged Band into the bundle shape makes sense, because everything is going in the ultimately desired direction, and it makes it simple to keep the elbows turned correctly. If you hold the work like an open star as you bead, it can be sprawly, and difficult to be sure that all of the angles are turned correctly. And after a certain point of decrease, they won’t turn back the right way.
In light of this, I actually do most of my Zigged Band and Rick-Rack work with the beads held in gather form, and the piece lets me know when it’s outgrown the concept- like when a Rick-Rack Bangle is suddenly a circular thing. It tells you.
Long, straight pieces are easy to bundle.
I tied a little thread around this one for the photo, but I don’t keep it tied when I work. I just hold it gently, like a little accordion.
The bundle on this one has a form that reminds me of Asian rooflines, very elegant.
Bundles are easy to hold, and it’s easy to expose only the “wing” that’s being worked. Increases sit neatly on top of their partners, and the beads take up as much thread and as much space as they will in reality; this makes it really easy to make decisions about tailoring, tension, and thread pulls. This hold also helps me avoid missed spaces, night-loops, and twisted increases.
But it’s just what works for me. The best answers about thread length, tail length and how to hold beadwork are always about what’s best for you. Experiment!
(beadwork in this post by Kate McKinnon, click any photo to enlarge)