Gay Ann Rogers Needlework

Needlepoint Lessons






Needlepoint Lessons of Mine: Ripping Ripping

The project I'm working on is a difficult one and I've spent hours so far stitching and ripping to get it where I want it to be. As a result, here are notes on how I rip rip rip.


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If you are going to stitch with any commitment, you are going to rip. It is  inevitable,

and I began our Two Month Stitching Party facing a lot of ripping. It took me a

couple of hours to do; if I had ripped in a traditional way, it could have taken me a

lot longer.


Instead of using scissors, I use a Bohin Seam Ripper. They are sharp little devils

and admittedly, they can raise a lot of havoc, as in cutting canvas meshes which I

have done in my day. In short, they are living dangerously, but oh they are fast!


Why I Use This Seam Ripper When Others Act the Same Way

In short it is a matter of balance: I am very used to the way this particular

seam ripper feels in my hand and therefore my control is better. I suppose it

is the same as certain scissors, needles, in fact any tool.


The Tricks I Learned For Using a Seam Ripper


1. A Slight Tilt

When I first started using a seam ripper, I cut canvas meshes more often

than I do now. That is because I've learned a little trick: carefully scoop up a small

number of threads you wish to cut, then tilt the blade of the seam ripper up just a

little bit. Over time I have found the upward tilt acts as a check that I am cutting only threads not meshes.


2. Scoop Only a Few Threads at a Time

In the beginning scoop up only a thread or two and cut them, then another

one or two.After you use the seam ripper for a little while, you will develop a feel for  the threads and you can cut a few more at once.


3. Scoop Along the Surface

Don't dig deep. Better to cut on the surface and get only a part of the thread, then repeat, than digging down deep and cutting the meshes.


4. Don't Hurry

Work methodically. You will in time speed up a bit. But don't hurry -- that's when you make mistakes.


5. Tickle the Threads as You Cut Them

As you cut, brush your fingernail rapidly back and forth along the front and back of the stitches you are cutting. This loosens them and allows you to scoop more easily.


6. Good Tweezers

Alternate between tickling the threads with your fingernail and pulling gently at them with good quality tweezers. Don't pull too hard, just slightly. I usually cut cut cut for a while, then tickle the threads and use tweezers to see where I am. Then cut cut cut again, etc.


7. A Favorite Gift

As I mentioned in my rooms at Shining Needle Society,  if you have a favorite stitching buddy and you are searching for a birthday or Christmas present, give her a bit of ripping time. It is so much easier to rip somebody else's work than rip your own.



Bohin Seam Rippers come in three colors. They are about $4.00 or $4.50, available in many needlework stores. Amazon has them but they cost $10.00 (includes shipping.