April 4, 2013

Poke, Poke, Poke...

I'm looking a little bit like a human pincushion these days. I refer to my index and middle fingers on my left hand as "catching fingers". In order for me to finish a proper applique' stitch, I have to be able to literally feel the needle by catching it with my fingertips. I know many of you more experienced quilters are probably shaking your heads and tittering right now, but this is how I've adjusted to making those teeny, tiny, (hopefully) perfect stitches.

I don't draw blood (thank goodness!), but I do scrape up the skin with the tip of the applique' needle. After a short while, the callous I create kinda numbs the tips of my fingers, too so they don't hurt. I know. It sounds completely pathetic, doesn't it?
I have these sticky thingies that I use as a thimble on my right hand...my needle hand. If you haven't seen them before, they're "dots" that are padded or plastic that stick to the skin. They take up less space on my finger than a regular thimble. (I have some gorgeous and useful thimbles, but the thread catches on them and unthreads the needle). sigh. Don't laugh. I'm trying to keep it real here!

I use straw needles to do my applique', and they're long and extremely fine. It's not that they're difficult to thread, but I'd just as soon not have to do it every few stitches, so these flat protectors save me a little time in that regard. Also, those fine needles can pierce the tip of your finger if you try to push it through the fabric without a little "reinforcement". The dots keep me from mangling up my other hand, then, too.
Don't feel sorry for me. I really love applique' but I'm still relatively new to the tips and tricks of accomplishing the technique without sacrificing my hands. It proves I still have more to learn, right?

I'll finish the applique' on this block today...right on schedule. Then, I'll start salving my fingers until the callouses go away again. I'm sure as soon as they're healed, I will have a NEW applique' project in mind and will start the process all over. Or maybe before I start the next one, I'll find out from Flo and Barb and Betty the best ways to protect my delicate fingers. No need to send "get well" cards. I'll be fine. Really.
DonnaAcornSignature

11 friends clicked here to leave a note for me:

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

Now those are the fingers of a busy woman! Good gracious Deece. Mine looked like that too when I use to do a lot of hand quilting. Your applique is gorgeous. I love all the pieces you have shown.
xx

Kathy said...

My hands always look like that when I applique, too. I don't have any great tips for that! Can't wait to see your finished quilt - I'll bet it will be beautiful.

Shirley said...

Good Morning Donna, I have hands like that. I think most people who do hand work have the same thing. I use your little dots for my fingers. I just like the way they work. I can't wait to see it finished and tell Tag a belated happy birthday for me. Hugs and Prayers from Your Missouri Friend.

Twyla and Lindsey said...

Looks sore, I'm glad it's not! Your applique is beautiful. I've never tried that before. Enjoy your day! Twyla

sudukc said...

I did this one time too and ended up with a large doctor bill...Then I tried those rubber thing-a-jigs (aka finger rubbers or raincoats) that office people use to sort papers...they didn't work well for me could not feel the needle. Now, I just end up with sandpaper finger tips, do not work with silk for awhile and use LOTS of lotion...Good luck.

Createology said...

Your fingers are the sign of a true stitching artist. Your applique is stunning. Good to know you can heal them with salve and that they aren't too painful. May your applique be completed today...Stitching Bliss Dear!

Mandy Currie said...

Hello Donna, you did make me smile today, I always enjoy your blog. My fingers are exactly the same, in fact I have a permanent hole in one. I am mostly an embroiderer but have started quilting and applique (I need some decent applique patterns, suggestions would be appreciated)and consequently my hands suffer also from the needle. I know you'll heal soon. Would love to see a picture of your finished applique please. Kind Regards Mandy Currie (mandycurrie@googlemail.com)

Karen Bush said...

As a long time quilter :) I can give you a few tips. Not that you asked for them, but ... well, things just fall out of my mouth most of the time :) If you can find a plastic thimble for your under finger, use it. Because it's plastic, it won't dull your needle the way a metal one will. Or use one of those sticky pads on your under fingers as well. It will be awkward in the beginning, but you'll get used to it.

Don't let those callouses go away!!! You worked hard for them, and if you find you can't use anything on your under finger, those callouses will be your 'thimble'! If you let them go tender again, every time you applique, this will happen. Quilters work hard for their 'quilter callous' :)

And of course, your work is gorgeous - you should keep it up! :) Karen

Laurie said...

I can so relate Donna. I have never heard of these little finger pads, and will for sure looking for them! Can't wait to see your finished applique!

Claudia said...

I have a couple of those from my hand quilting of late. I did break the skin! So I used a little liquid bandage on it and all is well. Hazards of the trade, I guess!

xo
Claudia

Jillayne said...

Oh Donna, I know all about this. My fingers are always a mess and I poke myself at least ten times a day, at least.... I think it's the price of admission to a life of loving needlework!

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