Ways of starting (II)

In my last post I looked at the waste knot and the away knot as a method of fastening on your working thread. Here are two more methods, or to be precise two methods plus a variation. The first one I’m sure you’re all familiar with; it’s the one I’ve been using ever since I started doing cross stitch and I’m not even sure it’s got a name. I call it the Tail method because you start by bringing the needle up through the fabric, leaving a tail at the back of the fabric (picture 1). Then start stitching, making sure you over the tail as you go (pictures 2 & 3). All three pictures show the back of the work.

Fastening on with a tail (1) Fastening on with a tail (2) Fastening on with a tail (3)

A great favourite of mine, and a great one to keep your back tidy, is the loop start. It only works when working with an even number of threads or strands, unfortunately, but when it works it’s very neat. It can be worked in two ways, one of which is even cleverer than the other! Both start by doubling your strand or strands and threading the needle with the cut ends (picture 1, below). The difference is whether the loop is left at the front or the back of the fabric. If you leave it at the back (that is to say, you bring the needle up for the first stitch as usual) you need to turn your work over to catch the loop. With the "front loop" method everything happens at the front of your work.

To begin, take the needle down the fabric at the beginning of your stitch, where you would normally bring the needle up. Don’t pull it all the way through but leave a loop at the front of the fabric. Then bring the needle up at the other end of the stitch (picture 2). Take the needle through the loop (picture 3) and pull the thread right through (picture 4). Take the needle down the same hole in which you came up, making sure you catch the loop (picture 5). Pull the thread right through, so that the loop gets pulled to the back of the fabric. Voilà, one anchored stitch (picture 6).

Fastening on with a loop start (1) Fastening on with a loop start (2) Fastening on with a loop start (3)
Fastening on with a loop start (4) Fastening on with a loop start (5) Fastening on with a loop start (6)

I suddenly realised there is another method which I use quite often but haven’t mentioned yet – and I haven’t got pictures of it either, but I hope a verbal description will be clear enough. This method only works if you’ve already done some stitching, and I tend to use it in Hardanger to fasten on the perle #8 for the bars and filling stitches after I’ve worked the Kloster blocks. At the back of the work I take the needle behind one or two Kloster blocks, ending up near where I want to start stitching; then I loop the thread round the last of the stitches that I’ve passed under. This anchors it very effectively.

If I’ve missed any really efficient ways of fastening on, do let me know – I always like to learn new methods!

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