Gay Ann Rogers Needlework

Gay Ann Rogers Needlework

Lessons on Threads






New Lessons

Thread Lesson #10

What about ALL the Other Threads

Widening my Thread Horizons

My World of Needlework


New Lessons


In 2015 I wrote a series of lessons for the beginner, intermediate and advancing needlework student.


I always intended to add to them but the year had a way of getting away from me, and here I am, a year later.


I'll do the best to add to my lessons as 2016 progresses.


If you have any topic you wish I would write about, please email me and I will see what I can do:


Click here for 2015's Lessons

For Beginning Students


Click here for 2015's Lessons

An Overview of Needlepoint


Click here for 2015's Lessons

For Intermediate Students


Click here for 2015's Lessons

For Advancing Students


Coming Soon in 2016

Lessons in Design

In my first 9 thread lessons I have mentioned so few of the threads available in our modern needlework age. What about all the others I haven't mentioned, do I use them? Which would I choose and how do I decide?


Stranded Threads

Overall I find that threads fall into categories, for example stranded silks and cottons. Prominent in my life, as I have mentioned, are Au Ver a Soie's Soie d'Alger, a stranded silk, and DMC and Anchor floss, a stranded cotton. Planet Earth has a stranded silk, so does Needlepoint Inc. and Lois Caron's Soie Crystale. There are many overdyed silks and cottons, so how would I choose new ones?


Although they are different in weight and texture, the role they serve in my needlework, is basically the same and as such for me they are basically interchangeable. I tend to look first at my favorites but branch out mostly because of a color. I recently used a Needlepoint Inc for a background simply because of color. I found the thread itself slightly lighter in weight and a bit stiffer than Soie d'Alger but it worked fine and the color was perfect.


There are a series of 12 ply silks that the overdyers use as a base thread and Rainbow Gallery's Splendour silk is similar. I use the overdyed versions of these because of the wonderful colors but confess I am not fond of the silk itself: I find the individual ply are not consistent, one to another and often they shred.


Still, I fall in love with some colors and I use them. In my life, color seems the trump card, and if the color is right, I try to work around the thread.  Within reason.



Rainbow Gallery's Array of Threads

Many of the metallic Rainbow Gallery threads are interchangeable with the various Kreinik ribbons and braids. On the cards they look different in texture, but stitched they can look much the same. I discovered that Kreinik ribbon will easily substitute for FyreWerks, for example, when Rainbow Gallery discontinued a color and I found an equivalent Kreinik ribbon. Rainbow Gallery metallics have some nice colors, so every once in a while I use one of them.


Rainbow Gallery has such an array of different thread textures that look like a fun playground for us stitchers. For me, these threads present two problems: first, the colors can come and go too fast. For example, it often takes me a year to stitch a design, write the instructions, have it proof-stitched, make the kits and find an appropriate sale for it. By that time, the thread color I used is discontinued and before I have made the first kit, I have to find a substitution.


For the average stitcher this isn't a problem, just be sure when you buy Rainbow Gallery threads to buy more than you need so that you have emergency extras. This is particularly true if you buy the thread for a project long before the time you plan to stitch it. I would advise you to buy almost double the amount as an insurance policy.


My other problem with some Rainbow Gallery threads has to do with the fact that they are sometimes knitting threads adapted for needlepoint. As long as you know this upfront and know that the thread may not tolerate the wear and tear that we needlepointers put on thread, choices of these threads are fine. Often long stitches and couched stitches are the best choices for somewhat fragile threads.



Overdyed Threads

Overdyed threads, even the classic ones, present a variation of the same problem as discontinued colors: dye lots can change so drastically that you sometimes can't recognize the same color from skein to skein.

The easy workaround for overdyed threads is to make sure you have ample amounts. For example, I buy almost double the amount I predict I will need: if I think the design will take 1 skein, I buy two, and so forth.


Buying ample amounts of overdyed threads also gives you a choice of the color run you will need. If there's a pink the color run and you wish you had a tad bit more of the pink to work into the design, having extra amounts of the thread itself will allow you to pick and choose what goes where.


There are so many different overdyed threads on the market that it is a buyers' market, with an array of colors unequaled. It's wonderful! Enjoy one of the benefits of our stitching age, just make certain you have more than enough for your design.



Novelty Loopy Threads and Other Highly Textured Threads

Using these depends on the design. If you have a design with a very intricate line and many color changes, these novelty threads can easily goop up the design by adding too much texture. My advice is this: if you wish to try the highly textured threads, choose a design that is simple in line. Recently I saw a simple square with wide bands of color. As a painted canvas, it looked too simple, but I remember thinking, what a perfect painted canvas for all the novelty textures that abound these days.



Shopping For New Threads: What I Look For

I think of threads in genres as I have mentioned above. When I shop for new threads, the first thing I look for is a new genre, for a thread that does tasks unlike my other choices.  Here are a few examples of genre threads I've added to my palette over recent years.


100/3, on which I wrote a whole lesson, was a new genre thread for me. Some people equate it to a skinny pearl cotton, but it is not it has a whole different texture. I don't know of another thread like it and I was delighted  to find it.


Of late I've played with a number of metal threads for goldwork. My favorite so far is a gold gilt passing thread from Access Commodities. It is a beautiful pliable thread that handles more easily than any passing thread I've tried previously. I have now used it on two different designs coming in the future and I've loved its ease of use. It isn't a stitchable thread (because it is fragile it has to be couched), but it has some companions that are stitchable: a gold wire and a gold Tambour Thread that create a different look from my usual Kreinik Braid.


Other threads that provide new genres for me are Accentuate and Bijoux. I have used both of these for a very long time now and they are very different from Kreinik braid. They are so skinny and they provide a little glint that gives a lift to a design. They have both been staples in my portrait series.


Burmilana is another thread I haven't mentioned previously. I can't think of another thread quite like it and I've used it several times when I've needed a slightly hairy thread. It has been particularly useful in architecture. Think thatched roof.


Some of Rainbow Gallery threads have special uses: I used Fuzzy Stuff in my miniature of Bess of Hardwick and in Bess's Heart. I have used Rainbow Gallery's Mohair also on several occasions; the best example I can think of was for Chloe's Dresses.


I admit I treat special effects threads with caution, for they can easily look gimmicky. If a thread calls too much attention to itself, it can be jarring and interruptive to the flow of the design. To my way of doing needlepoint, the effect of a thread should add to the design not stand up and trumpet its appearance, so I always proceed with caution.



Closing Remarks

The array of threads in our world today is so vast and the temptations to try them all on one or two canvases are great. So I close with a note of caution about threads.


Remember, the idea is to use what the design requires. Choices of threads are always about servicing the design and bringing it to life, not about arbitrary decisions because you are in the mood to try fourteen new threads. In my long years in needlepoint, I cannot think of a single occasion when thread choices trump the needs of a design.


Yes, have a good time with all your threads, but remember the design: all too often I see designs crying for help: 'let me out, let me out from under the weight of all these threads and stitches! Just exercise a little restraint; step back from your design and ask what role your choices play in servicing the design.



This is the final lesson in my series on Threads. I will be back in the future with a new series of Lessons on Designs.