Sunday, 30 March 2014



I chose long-legged cross stitch to work samples of different thread types, on 10 holes per inch canvas. Perhaps I should have bolder – I felt I was playing safe and being a little imitative, because this is the stitch featured in the Module Booklet. However, it is a good stitch for trying things out, because it covers the canvas well, is easy to work, and makes the thread texture clear, while enabling you to see the stitch formation.

There are three samplers rather than one – I could have got more examples on the canvas, but I was a bit worried about not being able to see which was, so wasted a lot of space.

The colour choice had to be white/neutral, as I have lots of threads but, sadly, am unable to say what many of them are! There were various threads left from previous embroidery, crochet and knitting projects, as well as a bag of bits and pieces someone gave me, and a packet of mixed fibres I bought at an exhibition some years ago, and never used.

I stitched the samples on dark green paper, and stuck that into the sketch book. As with the stitch trials, I photocopied each piece, but with these I stuck them on light green paper, because I thought it made for better viewing and display. To try and keep track of the various threads,  I also threaded little price labels with yarns, to give some idea what they were like.

Originally I planned to write a few words on each thread (I did keep notes as I went along), but in the end I decided the samples speak for themselves, so I am making a few general comments.

Stitches which have a marked pattern of their own, like Rhodes or Norwich, are unsuitable for textured threads, because you lose the structure of the stitch itself .

Similarly, stitches which use a lot of thread to give denser covering are difficult to work in textured and thicker threads: They can look messy, and the canvas can become lumpy and distorted.

And anything crinkly, or bouclé-type yarns are a total nightmare to work with. They snagged and shredded, and one went fluffy. And to make matters worse, the knobbly knubbly textures didn't show up at all, so I was really disappointed.

Rayon was vile to work with, as it slipped and slithered , and caught on the canvas, but it looked great. Pearlescent thread was just as nasty to work with, and I didn’t really like the effect. Perhaps it would be better blended with something else.

Tapestry wool , soft embroidery threads and crochet cotton all gave good effects, and were lovely to work with, and stranded embroidery thread is lovely, with different effects depending how many strands you use.

Beading threads, surprisingly, worked really well on canvas – they’re strong, and tightly twisted, easy to work with, and give nice effects. Beading wire wasn’t as difficult to work as I thought it might be, but I had to use jewellery pliers to pull it through as tightly as I could. I might try fine florists’ wire at some point, to see how that compares.

And torn strips of silk material are fantastic! I loved working with them, and I loved the effect, and you could use other threads and a sharp pointed needle to embroider over them (actually, you could do this with some of the thicker threads, especially the knitting tubing).

Thinner threads make interesting textures and patterns, because they don’t cover well, so you can see the pattern of the canvas behind them.

I abandoned some thicker threads, like string and suede strips, because they were too thick for the 10HPI canvas, but I would love to try them on something else – rug canvas maybe.

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