Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All Yoyos, All the Time

They were predicting a big storm for us this morning, but when we woke up it was all clear.  A few hours later, though, it looks like this:

Last gasp of winter - hopefully!

No lake view today!  But wet snow like this is pretty photogenic, I think:

For me, it doesn't matter what the weather is like, because it's all yoyos inside:

This is all I've been doing for days.  I don't know why these are so obsessive, but I finally realized that if I ever want to do anything else I'm going to have to finish these first.  There are 38 strips, and I only have 6 or 7 left.

My plan now is to get this flimsy done, and the nine patch, in addition to Edward's quilt which is already ready for quilting, so that I can set up my sewing area for quilting and do all three at once.

Before I finish the nine patch, though, I really am going to get started on Sedona Star.  It's been on my calendar twice already, but then something else comes up and I end up sewing yoyos again.  I've printed the Month 1 templates on the Ricky Tims' Stable Stuff.  They look ok, but printing them one page at a time, as the instructions recommend, was a big pain in the neck.  I don't anticipate any problem with the piecing though, so I think that once I get started they will go quickly.  Month 1 will, anyway, I am a little concerned about Month 2, but one step at a time!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Allie Aller's Crazy Quilting

It's Book Review Day once again!  Today I am sharing Allie Aller's Crazy Quilting (C&T Publishing, 2011).

I love this book!  Before I read it, I was always on the fence about crazy quilting.  My impression was that it was too dark, and too random for my taste.  But the work in this book changed my mind.  Aller (I gather that her friends call her Allison rather than Allie) is largely inspired by gardens and flowers, which is something that really resonates with me too.  The colours are vibrant and beautiful throughout the book, and there are many gorgeous photos:

Crazy quilting is definitely one of those "more is more" techniques.  This book gives you everything you need to finish a project.  Aller provides four different methods for constructing a block, dozens of ideas for embellishing it, and complete instructions for finishing the quilt.  I am about to embark on a Top Secret crazy quilt project, and I feel very comfortable with the instructions for getting started.

But even if you don't have a crazy quilt project in mind (yet), this book is great eye candy, and provides lots of good ideas for embellishment and silk ribbon embroidery that you could use on other projects:

She does amazing things with Angelina as well!  So, another book that I highly recommend.  It is certainly a nice book to have on the shelf, when you are missing your garden in the middle of winter!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

10,000 Hours and Deliberate Practice

Ok, now, this topic is usually found on sports websites, and you may be wondering why I am mentioning it in a stitching blog.  Embroiderer Trish Burr recently wrote a blog post that ties into this idea.  It compared her early needlepainting to her more recent, advanced work.  It was timely for me too, because I had just unpacked and started work on this old UFO:

Cottage Garden - Inspirations 53

"Deliberate practice" was conceived by K. Anders Ericsson, and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers.   You have probably already heard the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something.  The catch is that it needs to be deliberate practice, which doesn't mean blindly following a coach's advice, but which does mean identifying and correcting your individual weaknesses.  To me, that means stretching and trying new ideas, rather than always doing the things you are already good at.

In her blog post, Trish discusses her desire to constantly be improving her work, and her willingness to make mistakes.  I particularly identified with this quote:

"Every time I make a mistake I see it as an opportunity to learn and improve. Learning embroidery should be full of quiet contentment not frustration. Living in a world where we have instant gratification in everything from cell phones, to computers to online shopping this is one area where we can cultivate a sense of patience."

As for my UFO from 2008, while most of it still looks ok, some of it is not so great:

Those rosette stitch roses are far from ideal!  I remember that I could not be bothered to use a single strand of floss for them, and honestly, it feels like I was a completely different person then!  Compare the same stitch done again last week:

Even these continued to improve as I went along, and I have a great tip to share in a future post.

What I've learned from all this, is not to be afraid of mistakes.  A lot of my UFOs are UFOs because I was afraid of messing up.  Seeing mistakes as part of the learning process, and deliberately practicing and correcting those mistakes, actually feels very freeing to me, because I know now that my current limitations are only temporary.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Quilt Project - Collector

Here's a project that's been waiting in the wings for a while.  I finally got going on it yesterday, mainly because I wanted to do some paper piecing practice before I start Sedona Star.  The Sedona Star fabric has arrived, and been washed, so I should have something to show really, really soon now!  LOL.

But in the mean time, here is the beginning of the quilt I've been calling "Collector."  It is going to be a charm quilt, with only the background fabric repeated throughout the quilt.  The pattern was designed by Cosabeth Parriaud and included in Quiltmania's Winter 2008 Special Edition, which is published in French.  I was immediately taken by the graphic punch of the quilt:

Stars and Squares
I spent a long time figuring out what gives this quilt it's sparkle.  I'm discovering that any time I think about a quilt for too long, I have to make it!  The sparkle, I decided, is due to the high contrast darks and lights, both between the blocks and within the fabrics themselves.  That's what I'm hoping to duplicate!

I started with the "square in a square" blocks:

This was my first time ever doing paper piecing.  These have not yet been ironed or trimmed.  Thanks to all the great instruction available on the internet these days, it went pretty smoothly.  Alex Anderson's show about paper piecing on The Quilt Show was particularly helpful.  She suggested that beginners start with vellum paper, which is translucent.  That is what I used, and it is excellent stuff!  With the translucent paper you can see the fabric underneath, which allowed me to "compose" the squares to their best advantage.

In the photo above, the fabrics in the bottom left and right hand corners, as well as at the very top, are cotton Japanese kimono fabrics that I bought at Japan Center in San Francisco over ten years ago.  It is great to finally use them!  The two centre ones with the chickens are from the Folk Heart collection by Connecting Threads.  I love that collection.  Kaffe Fassett fans will have already recognized the green fabric on the right as his Millefiore design.  The pale blue butterfly fabric is at least 15 years old.  You can see why I am calling this quilt "Collector!"  While I was working on these blocks it occured to me that making quilts is really just an excuse to play with fabric.  I think the fabrics are the main event for me!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Return of the Yoyos

Those of you who have been reading since the beginning may have wondered whatever happened to those 409 yoyos?  Well, I had a few challenges to sort out with them, but now they are back on track:

I spent a couple of weeks waiting for the new binding fabric, because I wanted to make some yoyos from it as well.  Then it took me a while to cut the background strips, and a while longer to make the template and mark the yoyo positions.  But the biggest challenge was figuring out the best way to sew the yoyos down.

I made five samples before I was happy with my method.  I really wanted to preserve the nice pleats that the Clover yoyo maker produces, and I didn't want to flatten the edges too much.  But they also needed to be relatively firmly attached.  The instructions called for a running stitch around the edge.  The method that worked best for me was to take a very short tack stitch inside each groove of the yoyo, quite close to the edge:

This is a surprisingly strong way to sew them down, and with the short stitches on the front the thread will not be exposed to much wear.  And, it is going very quickly now!  I am 1/4 of the way done with only a few days of work.  I am choosing the yoyos completely randomly by closing my eyes and sticking my hand in the box.  So it is fun and very motivating to see which one will be next.  The only time I throw one back is if I get two consecutive ones in the same fabric.  Otherwise, anything goes!

In the end, though, I don't think this will be the most practical quilt.  The yoyos are quite lumpy, so if you were making a bed quilt for a young person it would not be very comfortable to sit or play on.  Mine will probably be a sofa throw.  I have a feeling that it will spend most of its time folded at one end of the sofa, and only used if I am cold.  But it certainly is a fun project!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Inspirations 73

Today I have a magazine for Book Review Day - the latest issue of Inspirations, number 73.  I keep all my Inspirations magazines on my book shelves, though, so maybe it is partly a book!

I was introduced to this excellent magazine at one of the bookseller stalls at a stitching and needlecraft show at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, back when I lived in California.  There was a whole rack of back issues on display, and I was standing there mesmerized by all the beautiful covers, along with another rather quiet woman and her pushy friend.  The pushy friend was not a stitcher, but she was strongly encouraging the quiet woman to put a deep dent in her credit card by buying several of the magazines.  I was internally debating the same thing, because I knew it had to be all or nothing.  Buying just one would make me want the others even more.  The dynamic between the two friends was a little tense, though, so I moved away.  Eventually they did too.

I went back, of course, and agonized a little more before I caved and bought about 15 of them.  Many of those are now sold out issues, so I am still glad I did it!  The quiet woman also ended up buying at least 10, shortly after me.

Inspirations bills itself as "the world's most beautiful embroidery magazine," and I have never had reason to doubt it.  It features beautiful, classic designs from top embroidery designers around the world, using the best materials and combining modern and traditional techniques.  Several different types of embroidery projects are included in each issue, from surface embroidery with cotton, wool or silk threads, to stumpwork, goldwork, silk ribbon embroidery, various whitework and pulled thread techniques, blackwork, cutwork, and on and on.  Beyond the designs themselves though, what really drew me in was that each project has detailed, thorough instructions with colour pictures on how to do the various stitches and techniques.  Anyone with a little basic embroidery knowledge and a willingness to learn can tackle most of the projects in each issue.  I have learned so much since I started reading it!

Ok, let's talk about the current issue.  There are nine projects, all from Australian designers.  (Inspirations is an Australian publication.)  Australia is a hotbed of embroidery talent, which I think has been nourished and supported by this magazine over the years.  So there are a number of excellent projects this time!

The cover piece by Jane Nicholas is one of the ones I quite like.  Usually stumpwork (raised embroidery) is not my most favourite technique, mainly because I hate the raw edges that you often get with the detached leaves and petals.  But in this piece the edges are all turned under, which I like much, much better.  The pomegranates are juicy, the padded snail shell is particularly nice, and I love the goldwork beetle.  Nicholas also has a whole book of beetles in various techniques, which is great fun.

Carolyn Pearce has been a steady contributor to Inspirations since the earliest issues.  I aspire to make bullion roses as nice as hers some day!  Somehow she manages to taper the ends of her bullion knots, which makes all the difference.  I would love to know her secret!  In this issue she manages the same look with silk ribbon:

This is something I'll be trying soon.  I think I have some of those Czech glass flower beads in my stash somewhere too.  While I won't be making this exact project, I'll definitely be using some of these ideas.

I'll also be borrowing Jan Kerton's needlewoven daisies from this project:

These daisies are the answer to two outstanding dilemmas I've had.  One is a UFO wall hanging that combines cross stitch and quilting.  I wanted to incorporate daisies in it somehow, but the right idea didn't come along until now.  These will be just the thing!  Maybe the lady bugs too. 

The second thing I've wanted for a while is to make a brooch of my online identity photo with the Black Eyed Susans.  I've grown quite attached to that photo, and I think it is very recognizable, so I'd like to have something to wear in the real world that ties it in.  I debated thread painting it, but this technique will be better.

The magazine publisher, Country Bumpkin, also sells kits for all the projects.  These are usually a good value, because they save you chasing down specialty supplies from several different stores.  The Australian dollar is a lot higher these days, and shipping can be costly, but the convenience may still be a benefit to overseas shoppers. 

Two other projects that I really like in this issue are the Hardanger box from Janie Hubble and the delightful Yvette Stanton, and Margaret Light's pretty pouch made from blue and white ticking and embroidered with beautiful red pelargonium in Gumnut's juicy perle silk.  The kits for them both are tempting me now!

Well, this was probably my longest post yet, but I cannot say enough about this excellent magazine.  It is the only subscription I have left.  Highly recommended!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Inspiration for Sedona Star, Part 2

Sedona Star

For those who have been dying to get a good look at the official Sedona Star photo, here it is, photographed by Gregory Case.  Click the photo to see it full size!

Yesterday I told you about the great synchronicity between Valerie Giles' version of Sedona Star, inspired by the colours of The Red Centre in Australia, and the colours of Sedona, Arizona, which are both very spiritual locations.  It seemed to me that there is a lot of potential for synchronicities in the design, with its reference to Sedona, and the repetition of the number nine throughout the quilt.  I have speculated about the potential meaning of it all previously, but I thought it was time to get the real story from the designer herself, Sarah Vedeler.

I asked her about the significance of "Sedona" in the title, and what was up with all the nines?  Here's her reply:

Sarah Vedeler
"In January of last year, Ricky sent me an email saying "We need to talk!". It wasn't until March until we eventually connected - March 16 to be precise, the Wednesday in the middle of Spring Break, and I was just about to get into the car with my daughters to drive up to Sedona for a couple of days. Having had the conversation with Ricky, I spent the entire 2 hour drive up to Sedona thinking up ideas for what the quilt would look like - and started to design it in Corel Draw when we got there (after taking the girls for a hike - which was the purpose of the trip!). So the quilt has always been associated with Sedona in my mind.

"As for there being 9 of pretty much everything... I created 2 initial designs (very basic outlines) that I submitted to Ricky and Alex to see what they thought. One had 8 points, the other had 12 points. The 12 point one was too big - so I started to shrink the design and play with the number of points to see what would work. 9 points did the trick!

"So there's really nothing very mysterious about it!!!"

LOL!  Isn't that great?!  I guess when you send your design out into the world, you never know what meanings people will give to it.  Thanks Sarah!

Like Valerie, my colourway also developed a lot more meaning for me than may have been originally intended.  I am 100% in favour of pretty things whose only purpose is to make you happy when you look at them.  However, I also think that if your design develops additional meanings, be they spiritual or simply happy memories, that can only add to the overall joy in the quilt.  For me, joy is the only reason to make a quilt, and anything that increases that is a good thing!

I know it is ridiculous for me to keep talking about a colourway no one has seen yet, but I really am still waiting for fabric!  Although I didn't change my mind about the colours, I did change my mind about the fabric, so that is the reason for all this delay.  But, with so many TQS members managing to finish each month in a few days, I don't think I am that far behind.  I'll be caught up soon enough!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Inspiration for Sedona Star, Part 1

Valerie Giles, whose Month 1 photo of Sedona Star I featured a couple of weeks ago, has already finished Month 2 as well:

The Red Centre - Month 2
It was not my intention to follow Valerie's quilt every month, but I've been learning more about the story behind her inspiration for her beautiful colour scheme, so I had to post about it again.

I didn't realize that The Red Centre is actually a place - the area in central Australia around Uluru, or Ayer's Rock.  When I asked Valerie about her inspiration, she wrote me this: 

"I guess my inspiration comes from the trip we made in 2010 to Alice Springs and Uluru.  The emotion I felt at seeing the Rock was overwhelming.  The colours change constantly and the textures are so beautiful.  I absolutely love all our indigenous fabrics and at Uluru we got to see the ancient rock paintings, so my aim is to get as much of this into my very first block of the month."

I love that story!  Thank you, Valerie.  And I also love that the colours of central Australia are very similar to the colours around Sedona, Arizona:

courtesy of

I was so impressed by the synchronicity between Valerie's quilt and Sedona itself, which are also both significant spiritual locations, that I finally contacted Sedona Star designer Sarah Vedeler to find out what her inspiration was.  She sent me a great reply, but you will have to wait until tomorrow to read it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sweet Hearts

Happy Valentine's Day!  Today is the 50th anniversary of my parents' engagement, so Valentine's Day has always been a big deal in my family.  In honour of the day, here is a redwork project that I have just started work on again.

I bought these at several years ago now.  I have been to the site more recently, and I am not sure if it is still active, it has not been updated in years - so use with caution!

I have been on again, off again with this project.  Sunday evening I started to think about it again, and I made a new quilt design incorporating just these nine blocks.  My previous plan had been to combine these with some other redwork patterns, but the whole thing was going so slowly, and poorly, that I just abandoned it.

From the front, my first attempt did not look that bad, but it was chaos on the back:

Old block - front

Old block - back

It doesn't look like all the ends on the back matter, until you see the block against a white background:

I did briefly consider lining the blocks with red fabric to hide all the ends!  But that didn't feel right to me, so the project became another UFO.

Now that a few years have passed, I've learned a lot about how to deal with the ends on the back, and suddenly the project seems a lot easier.  I realized that it can be my elusive "tv project."  I am so far behind on Coronation Street!  CBC only keeps the last three weeks online, and I have been missing episodes because I have nothing to do while watching them.   I spent most of yesterday tracing new blocks, and I have 3 left to do today.  I am also stitching the label for Edward's quilt, so there is a lot of outlining in my future.  Which is good, because I think Audrey and Mark's secret is about to become the talk of the neighbourhood!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Finished Flimsy

At my guild Rouge Valley they call unquilted tops "floppies" or "flimsies."  Do they do that where you live?  I had never heard it before.  I think flimsy is a pretty cute word, so I am adopting it.  It's much more fun than "top."

So the flimsy for Edward's quilt is finally finished!  Here it is:

This is not the first flimsy I've finished.  The last one was in the late 90s, and by the time it was done it was such a disaster that I couldn't bring myself to spend any more time or money on it.  The fabrics are pretty, but the blocks were all different sizes, and I had to adjust the width of the sashings just to get it all together.  And then I ran out of sashing fabric...  It was intended to be a scrap quilt, but it was just TOO scrappy by the end.  I still have it though, so you may see it some day.  I am keeping it for free motion quilting practice.

Edward's quilt has been a totally different story.  I did not measure the whole quilt until I had the white inner border on.  At first I thought I was a couple of inches off!  But then I realized that my math was faulty, not my sewing, and in fact it was almost exactly 52.5 inches.  At most an eighth inch too big.  That was very gratifying!  It made my day.  I really feel now like I have got the hang of this.

The one piece of advice that has made all the difference to me was something Alex Anderson said in an early episode of The Quilt Show.  She recommended that we practice our 1/4 inch seams until they are perfect.  Cut, sew, press and measure until the finished piece measures exactly what it is supposed to.  This was a surprising process for me, but it only took about an hour and a few squares of ugly fabric to get it right.  And boy has it paid off!  Thank you Alex!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Schnibbles Times Two

I have been thinking that I may make Fridays "Book Review Day."  I can think of quite a few books I'd like to review, so we'll see how it goes.

Today I am featuring Carrie Nelson's Schnibbles Times Two, quilts from 5" or 10" squares (Martingale & Company, 2010). 

This is the first Schnibbles book, and I gather it has been so popular that she has done another.  The premise is that the quilts can be made entirely from 5" and 10" precut squares, such as the Moda layer cakes.  Sometimes yardage of the background fabric is also needed, as well as binding and backing.

Each of the twelve designs is done twice, in two sizes, one for 5" squares and one for 10" squares.  This also gives you two colourways of each quilt for inspiration.  The small quilts are about 30" square, and the large ones are over 60" square.  I am just realizing that almost all the quilts ARE square.  I tend to prefer square quilts, so that may be part of the appeal for me.

But there are many things I like about this book.  The designs are simple and graphic, for the most part, and easy enough for a confident beginner.  The rotary cutting and quick-piecing instructions are excellent, and the quilts will go together quickly.  Special care is taken with ironing the seam allowances so that everything fits together perfectly.

The quilt I am making for Edward (I just have the last border left now) is based on the McGuffey pattern from this book:

I did not use precut squares for Edward's quilt, and the great thing about this book is that you don't have to.  You can certainly use yardage or fabric from your stash instead.  They are great patterns for scraps.

I am giving serious thought to making this quilt as well:

These are like half snowball blocks.  The quick piecing instructions for this quilt are very clever, so I am keen to try it.  I can see kind of a leaf pattern in there, and I think if I play it up with green fabrics and leafy quilting, it would make a great summer quilt for our living room.

So, I highly recommend this book!  5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Juin Sampler - February progress

As you can see, I am really starting to gain some traction with this Juin sampler from Bonheur des DamesLast month I was just starting the petit point band with the young people and the cherry trees.  Now they are close to finished.  There is still a lot of picky stuff to do, including the micro backstitching which is done over one thread on the petit point sections.  The next section will be cross stitches again.  The row of poppies is also cross stitch, and I had them done in three or four days, so who knows?  I may be finished soon.

It will be great to finish it, because this UFO is about eight years old.  But now that I've figured out how to handle all the ends on the back of the petit point, it has been a lot of fun.  I'm looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Alternatives for Sedona Star

I know that I had a string of posts last month with no pictures at all, for which I deeply apologize!  I'll try not to let it happen again!  Given that I still don't have any Sedona Star photos of my own to show, I did get permission from a couple of TQS members to show theirs.

I chose both of these because they are dramatically different from Sarah Vedeler's original design.  First up is Susan McFarland of Oxnard, California.  She has gone completely scrappy!

Scrappy - Susan McFarland
I love scrap quilts, and you can already see that this quilt is going to be amazing.  Just by repeating a few elements, like the red circles and green outer borders of the points, Susan has been able to go completely random with the rest.  I know I would never deliberately choose some of the combinations here, but it all works, and I bet it is a blast to make!

Next I have the work of Valerie Giles of Mt. Barker, South Australia.  She is using her collection of Australian indigenous fabrics, which is certainly an advantage.  But the thing that struck me was her log cabin points:

The Red Centre - Valerie Giles

Valerie is the only one in the Show & Tell so far who has used a traditional light and dark log cabin scheme on the points.  This gives them a more three dimensional, architectural effect, if you will excuse the pun.  What great out-of-the-box thinking!  I have to tell you, I am very sorry that I didn't think of this myself.  I also love the warm colours, so it will be great to see where this quilt goes next.

Big thanks to both Susan and Valerie!  The other reason that I chose to show these quilts here, is because both of them strongly tempted me away from my original plan.  I love those scraps, and those points!  I think that my Month 1 will actually have the distinction of using the fewest number of fabrics.  But for now I will stick with my plan.

In any case, I have decided to abandon the Kaffe Fassett shot cottons, and use Kaufman Kona Solids instead.  I was disappointed with the shot cottons, they were not as interesting as I had hoped.  The Kona solids will give me a better range of colours, and they are heavier so I expect they will be easier to use.  So once again I am waiting for fabric to arrive.

My idea with the solids is that they will allow more scope for creative quilting.  How the quilting will be done is still in the air, of course.  I called a local Bernina dealer for a quote on the 820 and 830 today.  Holy crow!!  I had no idea.  Well, I still have year!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stitching with Metallic Threads

The Lavender & Lace Celtic Spring design that I am currently stitching is positively encrusted with gold metallic thread.  The pattern calls for 4 cards of Rainbow Gallery's Petite Treasure Braid:

I have heard many complaints about how difficult it is to stitch with metallic threads, and I thought I would report on what is working best for me.

The main principle is to reduce the drag on the thread as much as possible.  I'll give you the summary first, and then the details:

  1. Stitch the metallics first.
  2. Pull the thread straight up and straight down.
  3. Keep the tension a little looser.
  4. Slow down.
  5. Use short lengths of thread.
1.  Wherever possible, stitch the metallic stitches before you stitch any adjacent stitches.  If you have already stitched the surrounding stitches, the fabric will be much tighter and there is a lot more pressure on the metallic thread.  On Celtic Spring I left all the gold crosses on the dress until the end, and it is chewing up the thread.  I'm not sure that I had any other choice, though, so I am just using very short lengths.  On the hems, though, I am doing all the gold first, and it works much better.

2.  If you pull the thread to the side when you stitch, there is more drag on the thread.  Eventually it will fray, but even before that the thread gets flattened, or "ironed out," very quickly.  The Treasure Braid gets its sparkle because it is crinkled, a lot like old Christmas tree tinsel.  This is not a great photo, but it gives you the idea:

As soon as the thread gets flattened it loses its sparkle.  So with that in mind,

3.  Keep the tension loose.  The braid has a tendency to spring up, but pulling it too tight to counter that is a bad idea.

4.  Slow down.  While the crinkles in the braid make it sparkle, they also tend to catch on the fabric.  Slowing down your movements decreases the chance that a strand will snap as it catches.

5.  The universal advice that you hear is to keep the thread lengths short.  I usually use an 18" length of cotton floss when I am cross stitching.  I started with a 14" length of braid, but it had already frayed when there was still 8" on the needle.  When I am able to stitch the gold with no surrounding stitches, I find an 11" length works well.  I am using an 11" x 17" Q-snap frame, so I just measure against that.  For the crosses in the dress where I have already stitched the other stitches, I am using just enough to stitch one cross at a time, which is a little painstaking, but worth it to keep the bright gold sparkle against the dark purple dress.

Another common piece of advice for stitching with metallics is to use a thread conditioner.  Right now I am not, and I am coping pretty well.  I'm not sure what a conditioner would do to the crinkles, so I am not in a rush to try it.

The gold thread looks much better in real life than in any photos I have seen.  Even though it may seem daunting, it is well worth a little extra effort!  For me the best thing is to do a little at a time - two or three lengths of gold, and then back to the cotton floss for a while.
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