Gay Ann Rogers Needlework

Gay Ann Rogers Needlework

Lessons on Threads






New Lessons

Thread Lesson #9

Life on the Proverbial Desert Island

If I had to pack for an extended stay on a desert island, what would I take?

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

Soie d'Alger

Kreinik Braid

Pearl Cotton

Last Monday I posted my eighth lesson on Threads; it was meant to be my final lesson in the series, but as I was reading through it, I started remembering the designs for which I had used my list of threads and thinking which ones would be the most indispensable to my stitching life.


It was then that I started wondering about the old desert island fantasy: if I were to be marooned on a desert island and could take only three threads with me, what would the three be? What about two? If I had to limit my choice to only one, which would the one be?


In reality I would miss all the threads on my list but I began thinking about the criteria for making my desert island fantasy. The question I needed to answer was, which of the threads would sustain design after design for me?


The answer to the question made my choices easier, there would be three: Pearl Cotton, Kreinik braid and Soie d'Alger.



Pearl Cotton

I love to do whitework. Even if a piece is not totally whitework, the techniques of whitework add much of the texture to my designs. How many times have I used Nun's Stitch as an edge for little sewing cases? How many designs of mine incorporate pulled thread patterns? A sister to Nun's Stitch is four-sided stitch and I have worked what is literally miles of Four-sided Stitch. Yes, miles and miles. The same is true of Faggoting and all its distortions. And Wave Stitch and all the easy pulled thread patterns related to it.


For many years I incorporated cutwork and drawn thread techniques into my samplers. All the needleweaving patterns, the multitude of buttonhole variations and bullion knot variations, none of them would have been a part of my life without pearl cotton.



Kreinik Braid

I know that most people love the challenge of difficult threads. Me? I love to see if I can make something difficult easier by choosing simple stitches and simple threads. Why make it difficult if easy can do the job.


Kreinik braids and ribbons bring a little metallic lift to a design, a little bit or sometimes a lot of punch without the difficulty factor. Unlike some of their kissing cousins, the beautiful metal threads which can be such a challenge to make look good, Kreinik braids are so simple to use.


It is so easy to pick up a Kreinik braid, do a simple stitch and then stand back and think, oooo, the effect is great and it's no work.


I would guess that I have used Kreinik braid in about 90% of the designs I've stitched over the years.



Soie d'Alger

This is my ultimate thread of choice. With so many stranded cottons and silks, why is Soie d'Alger my ultimate choice?

The colors, the weight, the texture.


I love colors that aren't too vibrant. I sometimes say I like colors that are between colors: a green that often has a lot of blue, or a green that might have a lot of yellow, a red that isn't a fire-engine red, rather one with a shadow of green and a bit of white to soften it, a blue with a touch of yellow added to feature a hint of teal, and so forth. Although I use black now and then, more often I prefer a charcoal. It softens the impact.


I love Soie d'Alger because of its wide color range. Yes it has all the saturdated (vibrant) colors but it also extends to my colors between colors: all those soft blue-greens, blues that are so grayed there's only a bit of blue, greens that grow more cool as I use them, yellow greens that have so much depth to them, reds with a hint of violet, the range of whites, and if I had to choose only one reason to use Soie d'Alger it would be for #3226 charcoal. For my Elizabeth Portrait alone, I used 19 jumbo skeins of #3226.


Most people think of Soie d'Alger in a little skein of 5 meters; a jumbo skein has approximately 350 meters; multiply 350  by 19 and you will know that Elizabeth alone used approximately 6600 meters of Soie d'Alger #3226.


Quite simply Soie d'Alger produces colors that inspire me on a daily basis.


There's a softness and a plumpness to Soie d'Alger that is different from the other silks I've used. Stitch a length of it and maybe you will notice the same as I've noticed: up at 1, across two meshes, down and 2; do you notice that Soie d'Alger seems to plump itself up a bit? I am a fan of light thread use and this slight plumpness allows me to use a single ply on congress cloth or often 2 ply on 18 mesh. To my eye a light coverage often makes a design look more delicate.



Packing for My Desert Island Stay

If I had to pack a suitcase for an extended stay on a desert island, I would pack 3 pairs of scissors, a dozen Bohin seam rippers, 1000 tapestry needles, 200 embroidery needles, equal amounts of soft ivory and white congress cloth;  white and ecru pearl cotton balls, size 8 and 12, Kreinik braid #002 (gold) and #001 (silver)  in #4 and #8, and all the soft blues, blue greens, greens, whites and #3226 that I could pack. If there is still room in my suitcase, I would pack more Soie d'Alger in purples and reds.


And some stretcher bars and lots of thumb tacks.


This is a lot to carry. What if I could only pack a part of this? What if I had to choose only one ground, only one thread, what would it be?


In making this decision, I looked to Hollyhock House Sampler, one of my own favorite pieces of my work, and I let Hollyhock House make the decision for me.


Hollyhock House's answer: Soie d'Alger and white congress cloth.


And stretcher bars and thumb tacks of course.



Would I Like to Live This Way?

Of course not -- I would rather have all of the threads on my original favorites list, but every once in a while I find it helpful to think of a desert island stay. It makes me focus on the discipline of simplifying a design.


In reality I would rather move into Hollyhock House, my sanctuary where there is an endless supply of any thread I would like.


Scroll down for a photo of Hollyhock House Sampler, stitched in Soie d'Alger.


A decade ago I stitched Hollyhock House as a sanctuary where I could move when I was weary of real life. As with my personal Gulfstream jet, Hollyhock House as an unending supply of threads I like to use, so I don't have to worry about life on a desert island.