She’s a dull tool.
It’s not a very nice thing to say about a person.
But sometimes, believe it or not, it’s a great thing to say about an embroidery tool!
Today, I’ll present a case wherein the dull tool is the highly desired tool. I’ll explain…
The dull tool I’m talking about today is the blunt-tipped laying tool.
If you’re not familiar with a laying tool and how it is used in hand embroidery, you might take a look at this video showing a laying tool in use and read the accompanying article. This will give you a little background on the laying tool.
In a nutshell, a laying tool (called a “tekobari” in Japanese embroidery) is a tool to help you lay your threads so that they are smooth and parallel to each other, or so that the stitch is placed how you want it.
The tool is often used with satin stitch, cross stitch, tent stitch, and other stitches when more than one strand of thread is used in the needle and it is desirable to place the stitch without the strands twisting around themselves.
But for many embroiderers, the laying tool is also used to control the embroidery thread. Often, when stitching with particular types of thread, the thread can be cranky and twisty, boingy and bouncy, and in many ways problematic … or just downright annoying. A laying tool helps hold the thread under a little tension while it is pulled through the fabric, so that you can place the stitch exactly where you want it and how you want it while keeping a cantankerous working thread under control.
Laying tools come in all shapes and sizes and they can serve other needlework-related purposes, too. A stiletto or awl, for example, can be used as a laying tool, but they can also be used for boring a hole into fabric. A tapered awl or stiletto will push the threads of fabric apart to form a larger hole.
I have a lot of laying tools. The tools above are examples of those that I use pretty regularly.
All of them, save one, have very sharp tips. If you jabbed them into yourself accidentally, they could cause damage!
But one them – one delightful laying tool – has a dull or blunt tip. And it is a fabulous feature!
On this blunt-tipped laying tool, notice the very shallow taper and the rounded finish at the point.
The tool has a long, thin, non-tapering shaft and a decorative pewter handle that’s slightly longer than the shaft. The whole tool is about 4.5″ long. The handle has a nice weight to it, and it’s comfortable to hold.
This particular tool comes from Coleshill Collection, a company in the UK that, among many other embroidery-related things, produces pewter-handled, Victorian-esque embroidery tools. The blunt-tipped laying tool is this one. (If you browse through the site, you’ll also find matching scissors and other accessories.)
You can also inquire at locally-owned, small needlework shops to see if they carry a blunt-tipped laying tool. For those who don’t have a local shop, ask your favorite locally-owned shop with an online presence.
So, why do I advocate owning a blunt-tipped laying tool?
See the fuzzy tip on the blue silk in the photo above?
I grabbed the closest laying tool while I was stitching, and it didn’t have a blunt tip. I told myself, “You should switch tools…” but then, being the lazy clod that I can often be, I didn’t bother.
And sure enough, the next thing I knew, the sharp tip of the laying tool that I was using snagged right across the surface of those threads and pulled them all out fuzzy.
You can save yourself so much frustration if you use the right tool for the job.
In this case, the blunt-tipped laying tool would have been the right laying tool to use, and it would have saved me from the frustration of having to fix the fuzzies on that area of embroidery.
So that’s why I think a blunt-tipped laying tool is a great tool to have on hand, and why I recommend adding one to your embroidery tool box!
You’ll be glad you did!