Getting supplies

No, I don’t mean in the sense of getting threads and fabric and beads for a project; that is generally a pleasant and stress-free experience (well, unless the fabric you want is sold out, or you can’t find beads that exactly match your perle cotton, or a look at your budget tells you that you can’t afford to stitch this special project completely in hand-dyed silks). But buying a large amount of squissors from a country far far away, after an occasionally frustrating two-month correspondence, and in the knowledge that last time they initially sent the wrong thing, is a different kettle of fish altogether. And so it was with some trepidation that I opened the bulky parcel this morning – what would I find?

Fortunately, I found some very good titanium-coated squissors smiley. One fewer than I had ordered, it is true, but at least they were exactly what I’d specified. Mabel’s Fancies is all right for squissors again for the foreseeable future!

A new supply of squissors

Finishing florals, part 5; and a tale of two squissors

Yes, I have finally completed the buttonholing on one of the 18 “proper” Floral Laces! Using the more spacious of the two buttonhole versions worked well – having the buttonholing closer to the stitching than it is now would have looked rather cramped, I think. The back looks better than I’d expected, with the scalloping producing rather a decorative effect. All in all, I’m pleased with it and will, over time, finish the other 17 in the same way.

Floral Lace, with scalloped buttonhole edge The back of the buttonholed Floral Lace

I’ve also been trying to get some more squissors, my former supplier having decided they wouldn’t do them any more. They very kindly put me in touch with their suppliers, and it all seemed to be going splendidly (apart from the complications of ordering from a country far, far away) until 100 pairs of squissors arrived. They looked just fine, all titanium-coated and colourful. But when I had a closer look at one and tried it out, it turned out that not all squissors are equal – these were far thicker and less pointy than the ones I had before!

Not all squissors are equal

Fortunately I’ve got enough stock left to be getting on with for the moment, and the new ones have now been returned to the supplier who will send out the correct ones this week, I’ve been told. So no need to panic quite yet, there may not be a global shortage of accurate, thin-bladed, fine-pointed squissors after all!

Brand new threads, good old squissors

It’s a shame I didn’t manage to post yesterday – such an unusual date that it seems a waste not to use it! Alas, we arrived back from the Netherlands only that morning so writing FoFs was not the first thing on my mind. There were new SAL subscribers to welcome, and of course our main business (unfortunately Mabel doesn’t quite cover the mortgage yet, not to mention pensions …) had more than its fair share of backlog. But today I just wanted to scribble a short post because I’ve made two exciting purchases!

The first is from Tamar Embroideries. It is really very kind of them to provide most of their colours in two shades, one light and one dark, perfect for the SAL smiley. In order to find out whether their threads are suitable for Hardanger (most of them are not actually perles) I have splashed out on four different types of thread, all in the same colour: Fine Cotton Perle (“stitches as perle #12”), Mercerized Cotton (“similar to cotton a broder”, so should work instead of a #8), Matt Cotton (a similar weight but “with a softer feel and a matt finish”) and Combed Cotton (“similar in weight to a perle 5 but with a tighter twist and a matt finish”). Just as an experiment and because it sounded interesting I’ve also ordered one skein of their tubular Cotton Ribbon; it sounds round rather than flat, so will it work instead of silk ribbon?

My second purchase is something that I have long been looking for – yes, I have found a source for my favourite rainbow titanium squissors! I am expecting their arrival any day now, so they should appear on Mabel’s Fancies soon; could this be the perfect Christmas present for all you SAL subscribers and other Hardangerers out there?

The sad demise of titanium squissors

Jubilant note: Since writing this post I found a supplier so titanium-coated squissors are now once again available!

Some time ago I wrote about a workman’s (or needlewoman’s) tools, and in particular about my new toy, the Lowery stand. Today I’d like to tell you about another piece of equipment I use for pretty much all my projects: squissors.

Squissors

As you can see, squissors are a cross between scissors and tweezers. Unlike scissors, they are open by default – this means they can be a bit difficult to store. I keep two of mine in the packaging they came in, which has a card back that slides in and out of the plastic front; the third one came with a handy little flexible plastic widget that fits over the tips, keeping them safely together. Squissors come with straight or curved blades; I use the straight-bladed ones, having once tried curved blade scissors with a singular lack of success.

The squissors shown above are the ones you’re most likely to find in shops or online. They are my third pair, and I keep them for back-up. They are fine to work with, and I’d be perfectly happy with them if it wasn’t for the fact that my first pair of squissors are even better. I didn’t know they were anything special when I bought them; in fact, I wasn’t sure squissors were really going to be my thing. But the shop that I was buying some supplies from at the time happened to sell this particular brand: Dobra Craft titanium squissors.

Titanium squissors

They are gorgeous! I mean, they’re very pretty to look at with that sort of oil-on-water look, but that’s not their main claim to gorgeousness. It’s the fact that they are sharp to the tips, and (according to the information I found about them) self-sharpening, so they should last pretty much forever. They are also very, very accurate. Well, that partly depends on the hand that holds them, obviously … but I found that if I tried to do the same thing once with my stork scissors and once with squissors, it was always easier, quicker and more accurate with the squissors.

But before you all run out to your local needlework shop (if you are lucky enought to have one) or fire up the browser for some online shopping, I have to tell you some sad news. Dobra Craft are no longer Dobra Craft, they do surgical instruments only now, and the people who took over from them appear to have discontinued the line. Shops which according to Google sell titanium squissors turn out not to, or not anymore. One shop had just one left, which I immediately snapped up. Should you find a pair anywhere, grab them and hang on to them! Should you find a shop that has a dozen or so left, let me know and I’ll get the lot for Mabel’s Fancies.

So what if you can’t find titanium squissors for love or money? I’d still advise any Hardanger stitcher to get a pair of the widely available ones – as I said, they are good in their own right, and will make cutwork a lot easier. And how do you use squissors? Well, it has to be said that you have to get used to them, and a few practice snips on some left-over scraps of fabric are definitely a good idea, but once you’ve got the hang of it it soon becomes second nature.

One thing to bear in mind is that, as with so many things in stitching, there are often several "right" ways of doing things. Some people prefer to keep the scissors parallel to the fabric and cut all four threads bordered by a Kloster block in one go. Personally I always advise people to hold the scissors/squissors at right angles to the fabric, and snip the threads one by one. I also find it helpful to turn the work so that the Kloster block sits to the right of where I’m cutting, but again, others will not turn the work at all. The thing to do is to try out several ways, and see which works for you. Below are some pictures which show how I do the cutting; they also show how to hold the squissors. Why not get a pair, have a try, and let me know how you get on!

Hold the squissors at right angles to the fabric Keep the Kloster block to the right of the squissors Cut the four threads one by one