Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Sinking Needle

When couching metallic or other threads onto the surface, the ends of the threads need to be sunk, or plunged, to the underside of the fabric. In Japanese Embroidery the tool used for this purpose is called a sinking needle.

To make a sinking needle, first under twist a length of thread (one strand of flat silk). Thread a large needle (size 10 hand made Japanese needle) onto the twisted thread, then fold the thread and over twist the two halves together resulting in a two-ply cord with a needle trapped in fold of the thread.

To prevent the thread from unravelling, fix the thread with glue (the glue we use is called yamato).


Pass the end of the thread through the eye of the needle to form a loop.


To use a sinking needle, insert the needle into the fabric at the point were the couched thread should be sunk (or plunged) to the reverse of the fabric.


Pull the needle through the fabric but leave a loop of thread on the surface of the fabric. Insert the end of the tread to be sunk into the loop.


Continue to pull the sinking needle to tighten the loop against the thread, then gently pull and wriggle the sinking needle to ease the tail through the fabric.


I find it helps to grasp the thread of the sinking needle close to the underside of the fabric (with my left hand) and pull on this rather than to pull on the needle. I also like to support the underside of the fabric with the thumb and forefinger of my right hand either side of the sinking needle.

Sink one thread at a time, and be gentle – a sharp tug works, but it is much better to take your time and ease the thread through.

Happy Stitching

5 comments:

Mary Corbet said...

Hi, Carol-Anne -

I love plunging threads this way. When I first learned goldwork, I was taught to use a large-eyed chenille needle, pinch the edge of the gold thread flat, stitck it in the needle (aaaargh - the worst part), and then plunge the thread by working the needle down.

It was an ordeal for me to plunge threads, and I got to the point where I would rather leave my threads unplunged - or avoid couched passing threads altogether - because it was such a pain in the royal neck!

But then I discovered the plunging lasso - aaaahhhhhh - what joy! what bliss! So relatively easy! Now, I just want to go around plunging threads all day long.

Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration! But it is sooooo much easier than using a needle.

I find that if I pull the lasso down so there's a fairly small loop there, and just place the tip of the thread inside the loop, it's a lot easier to plunge.

I have a question: when you take your passing thread to the back, do you unravel the gold and snip it off before securing the thread on the back of the work, or do you secure the thread with the gold still wrapped around it?

Great post, C-A!

Elmsley Rose said...

That's scary!

I almost did a post on plunging a needle yesterday, but forgot to take the first photo, so I left it!!

Funny if we'd posted on the same day!

I'm glad the info is up there - I had to mostly work it out for myself - I've found the info in (non-Japananse) embroidery books to be really brief,

KV said...

Extraordinary patience seems to be the name of this game!


Kathy V in NM

Christine said...

Since I also do Jap Embr (and am at the same level as Carol-Anne), I thought I'd give my answer to Mary Corbet's question: "I have a question: when you take your passing thread to the back, do you unravel the gold and snip it off before securing the thread on the back of the work, or do you secure the thread with the gold still wrapped around it?"

The short answer is I do neither. I clip the metal covered thread on top of the fabric to about 1/8"-1/4" before sinking it. If you sink a long 'tail', you might strip the metal off the thread on top of the fabric when you sink. After sinking, I leave the short tail on the back of the fabric and do no more with it. During the finishing process, paste is placed on the back of the fabric, which helps hold the tail in place. From what I understand, this is the process used even when making kimono/obi, so it must hold quite well. I hope this is clear.

Christine

Tenar said...

Thank you for posting this Carol-Anne! I don't do japanese embroidery, but there's couching in other embroidery, too. I always fiddled with a large chenille needle for this task. Next time I'll try this method.