|Tambour Hook - closeup|
Having my frame and tools firmly in hand I read the instructions. There are several good tutorials online and even a few video ones on YouTube. It's a deceptively simple process in which you stick the hook through the fabric, twist it around to grab the thread (making sure you get the whole thread not just part of it). Then you draw it up back through the fabric pulling a loop of the thread up. Then you do this again. A few more times and you can see it makes a chain stitch. Sounds simple right? Well - not so much really. The real trick is to hook the whole thread, not snag just part of it, and to draw it cleanly up without snagging the fabric weave. This is not as easy as the tutorials and videos make it appear. The other thing that some friends told me is "practice, practice, and then practice some more" - better advice was never given.
I tightened the fabric onto the frame, sketched a curvy line and bravely dug in. What you see here is the result of several hours work - snagging the thread, taking it out, starting over, snagging it again, starting over again, and again and again. The wonderful feeling of triumph when a few stitches in a row went in right - then the aggravation of snagging it again. Using a hook like this is like learning how to hand sew for the first time. It is a completely unfamiliar tool that is attached to completely strange tactile sensations. I felt like a 5-year-old with my first ball of yard. Awkward, unsure, frustrated. But I finally managed a whole thing. Round 1 - It did not defeat me. My personal critique tells me that my tension leaves a great deal to be desired. Mainly it is too tight - certainly it is not consistent. The lines filling the flower are too far apart or far too close together depending on where you look, and they don't lay cleanly side by side. But this is not a failed attempt. In fact, that outside border was rather a nice touch. I put in a row of dark blue and then zig-zagged over it with light blue. So life could be worse, right? And with that in mind I will try this again (when I've caught my breath). Maybe something a little more complex. After all "practice, practice, and then practice some more".