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Re: shoelace trick? and hiding threads
The shoe lace trick (SLT) is a method of switching the thread you're using. I'm not very good with this kind of thing, but here goes: When I'm using two shuttles & one is running low on thread (like when you're almost done with a snowflake & rrreeeaaaallllyyy don't want to wind a shuttle for that last little bit), you tie the first half of a square knot (like when you start to tie your shoes!) at the base of a ring or chain & viola! You have swapped your working thread... I hope that makes sense.
As for hiding ends, I never could make the magic thread trick work either.... But I do sew in my ends. I weave back & forth under just the "caps" of the stitches, 3 or 4 stitches back. Eventually you'll be able to do it so well you won't be able to tell where you sewed them in. It all takes practice :)