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  1. #1
    Pearl Scholar Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert pattye's Avatar
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    Angry Why Did My Pearl Knotting/Stringing Thread Break?

    So this question comes up every so often and I don't recall that we've discussed it before. Please share your experiences and take-aways!

    My thoughts about knotting/stringing thread of any kind and challenges one might come across; please just ignore anything that doesn't sound helpful or is a factor you are already aware of.

    It can be that one pulls to hard on the thread, or sort of jerked on it instead of slowly increasing pressure. I also use a technique of no tools and seating the knot by pulling the threads apart. Sometimes I can see the pearl turn a little as I tighten. Or if I notice that the knot hasn't settled, give it a push with my thumbnail. In the beginning I did break silk thread any number of times; after switching over to Beader's Secret and gaining experience, very seldom. The more a person knots, the more sensitive you will become to being consistent with how much pressure to use. Whatever kind of thread one uses, test it to see how easy it is to break!

    If the thread has abraided a little by snagging on rough spots in a drill hole, the thread could be weakened, and break, although you weren't pulling any harder than usual.

    Some pearls, especially baroques, can have a rough/sharp spot by the drill hole or down inside which isn't obvious, but will cut the thread when a certain amount of pressure is applied. This seems more common around the drill hole at the pointy end of a drop pearl. A fine diamond nail file is helpful to gently smooth spots like this. Also useful is a set of mini jewelry files. Looking over the pearls when sorting and arranging them before knotting is an opportunity to deal with a problem like this before the pearl is in the middle of a necklace.

    We all hate to start over, especially when we are almost finished. Yesterday I was interruped a number of times when knotting a strand of 4mm pearls; as I finished back knotting, there they were, 2 little pearls with no knot between! WHAT??!! No, I couldn't leave it until morning, lol. Bedtime was a bit later than usual.
    Pattye


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  2. #2
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Great topic, Pattye!

    People new to stringing may be afraid to break the thread, and so fail to tighten the knot enough. Then gaps form between the pearls.

    Testing the breaking point of any new thread before using it to string a piece of jewelry helps prevent that problem. Make a knot and pull the two threads apart with increasing tension until it breaks. Now your muscles have learned how much they can safely tug.

    It is surprisingly hard to break Beader's Secret. I only did it once. And I never broke Power Pro, not even the fine 10# test.

    I find what works for me when tightening is pulling the 2 threads apart with 5 little tugs in a row. I didn't set about to do it this way deliberately, but one day I realized I'd developed the habit of going "1-2-3-4-5."
    No, I don't have OCD!

  3. #3
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    Timely topic... I was knotting a large Flameball necklace for a client and managed to cut one of the threads on a drill hole. You are so right in that the Baroques can have somewhat chipped holes or they chip when you try to redrill and expand a small hole. I thought I'd filed down the worst ones but .. no.. I missed one.

  4. #4
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Marianne's Avatar
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    I don't usually break thread anymore, unless it is on the last pull thru after the last back knot and working right up to a deadline...

  5. #5
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert BWeaves's Avatar
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    I haven't broken a thread or had uneven knots since switching to Beader's Secret. Silk was horrible. It would always knot before I wanted it to.

    My main problem is that I'm so afraid of loose spots that I'll tighten too much and have an overly kinky strand that won't loosen up. That's why I end up knotting every necklace three times in a row. First time too tight. Then too loose. Then just right. Since it may be months or years between knotting a necklace, I forget what my perfect tension is until I've knotted a few times.

  6. #6
    First-graft Pearl Senior Member Narcissa's Avatar
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    YES to getting the tension just right, especially for those of us who don't knot routinely. Tight enough for no gaps and snug knots, but with the graceful drape that is part of a strand of pearls. And remembering what that feels like between knotting sessions.

    Elizabeth
    Narcissa

  7. #7
    Museum Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert JerseyPearl's Avatar
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    Excellent thread pattye...in so many ways!
    I would only add that sometimes the thread that sits at the apex of the needle weakens as it passes through many pearls. I find it helpful to move the eye of the needle around a bit on the thread so that no weak spot develops.
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  8. #8
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert BWeaves's Avatar
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    Oh yes, what JP just said about moving the thread around in the eye of the needle. I love Pattye's big eye needles. Those are the best ones I've found. I also use a double thread and open them up to slide the overhand knot up to the pearl.

    I also find a hemastat useful for clamping the end of the thread or pulling the needle through a tight drill hole.

  9. #9
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert
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    I haven't broken any thread in a while either (..finger crossed!), although it took a while to build that muscle memory. Oddly enough, I had a similar experience as Pattey last night when I was finishing a lavendar bracelet and looked down and realized I had completely skipped a knot between the second and third pearls from the end!!?? ....grrr because that was the second time I knotted this bracelet! So yes, I also went to bed later then usual, thinking I was lucky it wasn't a necklace!

    It's impossible for me to break PowerPro with my hands, so I pull as hard as I need to, to seat the knot. But I only use PP for limited applications as I prefer the drape and color choices of Beader's Secret. With BS, I've learned to pay close attention to the knot as I pull to avoid tangled or twisted threads, then having to be more forceful to seat the knot.

    When I first started knotting, I made my own awl tool by glueing a darning needle into a large bead, as I found other awls too large to be useful. But eventually, I got a better feel for knotting and no longer needed the tool.

  10. #10
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert amti's Avatar
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    I agree on what JP said... most of my threads break where the eye of the needle is because there's the most tension on that small area. I've learned to move the needle around on the thread. I also have the most difficulty with the last few knots. That's probably my least favorite part of stringing.

    I keep a safety pin around to loosen knots. Another one of my not-so-fun parts of stringing.

    I have over tightened strands too and keep hoping some of them will loosen over time. I'm still waiting.

  11. #11
    Rare Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert BWeaves's Avatar
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    I have a pointed Tweezerman tweezer that I bought by mistake. I meant to buy the angled head tweezer for plucking my eyebrows. I find the pointy one is great from undoing knots and getting crud out of the drill holes. It's also easier to hold than a pin, and it gets wider away from the point, which also helps in undoing knots.

  12. #12
    Member pammbw's Avatar
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    I always run my thread through my fingers a few times to remove some of the twist in the thread. I think it gives a nicer knot, and it's just a habit I got into since learning couture sewing and tailoring in college. Alabama Chanin calls it "loving your thread". Don't know if it helps with breaking, but I have only had my thread break once, at the end of a long rope when I tightened a wee bit too much. :-(. Still have not redone that one. Need a good binge TV show for that, Lol.

  13. #13
    Pearl Enthusiast Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Pearl Dreams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pammbw View Post
    I always run my thread through my fingers a few times to remove some of the twist in the thread. ...
    I do this too, many times over the course of stringing my strand. It helps prevent tangles, too.

  14. #14
    Natural Pearl Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert amti's Avatar
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    I don't run my thread through my fingers, but I do let the pearls do a twirl dance to undo some of the kinkiness. I hand the pearls by the thread and they twirl like a ballerina.

  15. #15
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    It must have been the power of suggestion -- I broke Beader's Secret last night about 15" inches into a 36" necklace. Started over today and had no problems until finishing off the last 3 pearls because of twisted thread. Fortunately, I have lots of patience and knot untying skills.

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