Thursday, 3 July 2014

Fashioning the Fab Four (Part 13): Take a Bow

The Fab Four come out on stage and take a bow (the kind that rhymes with 'cow') but before they can perform properly, they need to remove that bow (the kind that rhymes with 'tow' or 'toe') - but not the horsehair kind used for playing violas (the musical instruments, not the flowers).

I'm sorry, the English language has a lot to answer for!

"Fashioning the Fab Four (Part 12): While My Guitar Gently...Warps", tells the story of how the Fab Four's guitar necks bowed under pressure. Today, "Part 13: Take a Bow" describes their fix.

I am not looking forward to this fiddly task.  Nobody likes to undo all that hard work but these guitars are useless like this.

The reason for such a long pause between Fab Four blog entries is because I didn't want to contemplate the horror of what happened, I needed time to consider what to do and hectic circumstances made it hard to find the right time.  There is no way I can do detailed work whilst in the midst of a fatigue fog*.

At long last, the time is right; The Fab Four box is retrieved from its hiding place, and I set to work.

Perhaps the ice cream sticks that I collect (for labelling my plants) might be a good substitute for the flexible template plastic. They are rigid and, if lady luck blesses this project, they will be just the right dimensions to strengthen the guitar necks. I can always trim them with a craft knife.

Why didn't I use ice cream sticks in the first place?  Because I wanted the guitars to be washable and wood is porous. I didn't want any susceptibility to mould or mildew should it get wet.  If they dry quickly, it shouldn't be a problem.

My stitch ripper is my best friend as I unpick the seams to reveal the innards of the guitar neck.

Suddenly panic strikes me as I realise there may not be enough grey yarn to stitch it back up - wasn't this a discontinued colour?  I remember being unable to find this shade of grey last year when making beanies.  I do hope I have kept some spare for this project somewhere!  Too late now, the light grey yarn on the seam is already ripped apart. At this point I limit the unpicking to the smallest hole necessary to insert the wooden stick.  I might need a matching sewing thread to finish if I run out of yarn..

My thoughts move ahead to the other guitars. Maybe I should open up the top of the guitar neck so that the black section is ripped and not the grey section. I could slide the ice cream stick reinforcement into the neck from the top end.  How will that affect the lovely beading work of the tuning pegs?  I don't want to have to rework that too.  Worry about that later!

Back to the first guitar - the bass. I slide the ice cream stick into the hole and towards the tuning pegs. The other end tucks into the stitches at the body end. Fortunately the broken yarn is long enough to close the hole.  Like the Slouch Hat repair, the new seam is not as perfect as the old one, but it is neat and only noticeable for the trained eye that is looking for it.  Most of the repair sits against the body of the guitar out of sight.

I attack the second guitar neck from the top end, unpicking the black section.
Good lighting is most appreciated when working with black. As feared, he beaded tuning pegs are disturbed and the whole section is a mess; the shoulder strap is joined in here too!  I don't want to break the loose end of the strap or I won't have enough length to re-attach it if necessary and then I will need to rework a new shoulder strap as well!

How quickly a simple idea becomes complicated.

The whole section will need to be reworked. Sigh. I remove the beads and set them aside. Their white sewing threads are interfering with the frogging of black yarn.

Oh no!   How can I tell the difference between all of these black threads? When I weave in my ends, I am always very thorough but it is causing a problem now. I haven't made it easy on myself. How am I ever going to find the loose end of the shoulder strap without breaking it?   A lot of careful poking and prodding with a blunt yarn needle in the sunshine eventually reveals a frayed end, just when I was about to give up and grab the stitch ripper.

Momentarily I lament the advice that I give my children: just when you think it is too hard, you will never get it, and you want to give up, that's the time you should keep going because, just when you think it can't get any harder, the solution comes shortly thereafter. In other words, "It is always darkest before the dawn".  This seems to be the case now. Thank God!

Eventually, I have two frayed ends poking out, Remembering the slouch hat disaster, I am worried that I might now accidentally unpick the stitches of the shoulder strap if I unravel too far. Which end is the one to pull out? Carefully I alternate between the two. After all that trouble, the end of the grey neck section is uncovered. The shoulder strap is still attached (hooray - one issue to disregard).

The rest should be a simple matter of undoing the top grey seam and sliding in the ice cream stick. Let the unpicking begin.  At this end of the neck, if I break the grey thread, I can restitch with black and it will blend in to the design. I am certain there are black leftovers.

The ice cream stick slides in ever so easily without upsetting the shoulder strap which is still connected. The guitar neck is still connected to the body, saving extra sewing there, unlike the bass guitar.

This guitar's neck is shorter than that of the bass. The ice cream stick protrudes by 1.5 cm.  I could mark it with pencil and use a craft knife to trim the stick to size, but 1.5 cm is not much. I can redesign the head of the guitar to a better shape and keep the stick (with its smooth curved edges) intact.

I decide to take the same approach with the final guitar, recognising an opportunity to make an improvement on the original design.

Hours have passed since I began this task; the sun is now past the meridien and fatigue is taking hold.

"Back to your box", I say as I lovingly put the Fab Four Amigurumi set away until another perfect day. I hope it comes soon!

*Fatigue fog also known as 'brain fog' -  I recently came across an interesting article discussing the relationship between brain fog and Sjögren's Syndrome: <>
I suffer from Sjögren's symptoms as part of Mixed Connective Tissue Disease.


Other posts about my Fab Four Amigurumi project:

"While My Guitar Gently … Warps", blog post, Lupey Loops, 30 December 2013:

"Brain Fog: Is it Sjögren's Syndrome?" Lupus Australia Queensland Inc., online article taken from a talk by Susan McDermott MD at the Sjjögren's Syndrome Foundation (USA) April 2003:


  1. Wow Jodie you did really well here as that task looked quite complicated xx

  2. It was Tracey! They are still not finished, but I want to get them done as soon as possible. I've been too unwell to concentrate on much for the last few weeks. On the mend now and waiting for the winter weather to do the same. :-)

  3. The guitar looks amazing! What are you going to do with them?

    Brain fog is such a good way to describe fatigue! I find it very hard to explain fatigue to people because it is exhausting but not exhauting at the same time!

    Take care

    1. Thanks, Anne. I was going to raffle the whole set. They may have a different fate. I will make sure they are all fixed first and then decide.
      I am sorry that you understand first hand the effects of fatigue. Many people don't realise that it is more than just physical tiredness.