Hand-embroidering is one of those crafts which doesn’t actually require a whole lot of tools. In fact, in the grand-scheme of crafting, it requires pretty much the least number of tools to pull off. You basically need scissors, needles, and your hoops. I don’t count the actually fabric or design to be a tool. While scissors and needles are important, they’re pretty basic in nature and really almost any brand will do. But the hoops? For me, they’re a bit of a different animal and really rely on one’s personal preference when choosing and purchasing.
There are basically two models, or types, of hoop. There are the “free” hoops which are hand-held and the “stand” hoops which either sit on the lap or sit on the floor when in use. I much prefer the hand-held version. I feel as though I have more control over the piece I’m working on and can turn the hoop at angles not possible with a stand version. Hoops come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. They can be oval or round, as small as 4” in diameter to 30” in diameter, or larger. They typically are wooden or plastic, but some of my earliest hoops from childhood were made of metal and had a piece of cork attached to the inside hoop which prevented slippage of the fabric. The problem with the metal hoops was that in adverse environments they were prone to rusting and the springs often wore out. They were also terrific finger-pinchers. I got more than one blood blister attempting to secure my project in a set of metal hoops.
The brand of hoop I prefer today is from Yarnology. I have a variety of sizes from the smallest to the largest and I have an oval shaped hoop I use to do trim work around the edges of projects. They come in a wonderful array of colors which makes them that much more attractive in my opinion, and they are reasonably priced, starting at around $2.00 for a smaller size. The thing about this particular brand of hoop I like the best, though, is that the inner hoop has a ridge which fits into a groove on the outer hoop making for a tight fit and little slippage when working on a project. I’ve found this system also cuts down on stretching of the fabric. So far, I’ve only found these gems at Hobby Lobby.
If you’re thinking of taking up the craft of embroidery, I recommend beginning with a smaller size hoop until you’re used to handling them then moving up to a larger size. Holding and controlling a hoop can cause quite a bit of hand fatigue and this is one of those cases starting small and working up can be beneficial in the long run. Starting small is also less expensive so you’re out less start-up cost to try something new.
Are you a crafter, needle-worker? What’s one of your favorite tools?
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