Once upon a time, there was a little stitcher who got lost in sewing notion land. She was not very happy with just one quilt needle, so she decided to try a few others. "This one's too short!" she murmured. "This one's too thick!" she yelled. "This one's too dull!" she cried. . . .
I am making nice progress on Ice. I am using 3 different threads in 12 colors: DMC Perle#8, Presencia Finca Perle #12 and Valdani #12. They are all just slightly different, as I discovered this summer, when working on Hex-A-Garden. Clover Sashiko needles worked really well with all of them, but they're just not doing it for me now. Maybe it's because they're supposed to go through one layer of fabric! Maybe it's the fabric. Hex-A-Garden was all Jennifer Paganelli fabrics made by Free Spirit, and Ice is made from Robert Kaufman Kona Solids and Moda Bella Solids. I can definitely see and feel differences among the three, in both weight and weave. I used Quilter's Dream Batting Request in both quilts so I know it's not that. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's my hands.
I think it's the needles. When I started hand quilting, miniscule stitches made with a size 12 quilting needle was the holy grail of quilt perfection for me, as it was what expert quilters did, loading a multitude of tiny stitches in one swift movement, all miraculously the same size (note the vaguely religious overtones in that last sentence). I once received a platinum size 12 needle from starting a magazine subscription. I used it once and promptly put it back in it's little plastic case. It's been there ever since. So much for perfection. I've relaxed a bit over the years, using the keep it simple mantra and that has made all the difference.
When I discovered the joy of big stitch quilting, I could not find the right needle. I tried the big stitch needles by Pepper Cory and Fons & Porter Utility needles, but they are just too big for me. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. I cannot load a enough stitches and I end up using my little scissors as pliers to pull the needle through the quilt - not good for my scissors or my patience.
After determining what I wanted in a big stitch needle - large eye, medium shaft in both width and length and very sharp point - I started shopping. I put my blinders on when it came to the type of stitching that the needle was prescribed for. Short of looking at surgical needles, I was prepared to look high and low. It didn't take long.
Chenille needles were my holy grail! I went for #24 and that size works well for me. Stitching - even in a side to side direction - has been a breeze! I can thread the eye on the first try and no more using my scissors as pliers. Chenille needles, as Goldilocks would say, are just right!
And that my friends, is a good thing. We had a winter nor'easter last night and a brief loss of power. This is the view from my frame. Working on a quilt named Ice seems like a very appropriate thing to do today.