Keeping it clean

That’s the problem with whitework: keeping it clean. Since completing my first piece of Mountmellick work I’ve been much more careful to prevent the work getting grubby. As I said in the earlier post, Tracy A Franklin and Nicola Jarvis in their whitework book recommend using a pale blue pencil to draw the design lines. I’ve done this with the sampler piece I’m currently working on and it really does seem to be effective. You can see the lines, but they do fade gradually, without leaving a faint grubbiness. 1-IMG_0881

Other things that I’ve found effective:

  • I’ve been keeping the threads in a resealable plastic bag (see photo) and I open the bag only when I’m cutting a new piece
  • I am taking care to cut only short lengths of cotton. This means that I have to change the thread more often than perhaps I otherwise would, and that there’s more waste. This goes against my natural thriftiness with materials, but there’s no point cutting and using a long length only to find it turning grey towards the end.
  • I’m washing my hands thoroughly before starting work, and I’m not applying any hand cream. This is a nuisance as I like hand cream (especially Burt’s Bees honey and almond) and I don’t like the feeling of my hands being dry.
  • I’m keeping the work in a plastic bag at all times unless actually working on it.
  • I’m trying to keep the cat well away from operations. This is difficult as she’s a most affectionate creature and loves being on a knee, but if I’m to keep my whitework white, she’s got to make some sacrifices.

Anybody out there got any other useful tips? Do leave a comment if you have.

I’ll be plugging away at the whitework and hope to report back on progress very soon.

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