Naturally, the first thing that needs to be mentioned here is keeping our hands clean to avoid getting dirt on the fabric or the stitching. You always want to wash your hands before picking up your stitching. Some of the damage we see on older pieces of embroidery is the result of oils from the stitcher’s skin that remained in the fabric. The oils in your skin transfer to the fabric and attract dust and other things in the air, and eventually, they can result in a stain.
It is best to avoid the use of hand lotion when stitching because most lotions contain an oil or a petrolatum product. Both can result in greasy spots on your needlework. For those of you with severe dry skin that may snag, especially on fibers like silk, there are glycerin-based products available to use that are not supposed to damage the fabric. One of the most highly recommended products is used on dairy farms: Udder Cream, which has a lanolin base as well as glycerin. It can be found in many stitchery shops, as well as in catalogues or you can order the product directly from Udderly Smooth Udder Cream’s website.
Hoops, scroll frames, Qsnaps? Hoops have always been notorious for leaving dirty marks at the edges of the hoop. Most stitchers remove the hoops when they aren’t stitching and this seems to prevent the majority of this. There are things you can do to hoops to help prevent dirty marks from forming. You can tape your hoops before using them or use tissue paper, leaving a small open area for the area being stitched. Yet another way to line the hoop is with a lightweight fabric. Qsnaps don’t seem to cause any kind of problem like this. They do not seem to create any type dirt or oil buildup.
String of the Art– “Do we fold or roll our needlework when storing it?” We roll it! I always roll my fabric, even when I’m storing it for a short period of time as I’m stitching. Any creases in the fabric tend to collect dirt. Also, creases in the fabric are often very difficult to get out, even if they’re ironed. Most importantly, if you are working with linen and it is stored folded for a long period of time, the fibers can actually begin to break.