Did you get any stitchy presents this year? I got these – two pairs of very sharp, very pointy scissors. I saw them at a goldwork workshop I did at the Knitting & Stitching show, and was rather taken with them. One pair I will keep for goldwork (of which I hope to do more in future); I haven’t quite decided what the other pair will be used for, but they are a lovely bit of kit, aren’t they? Incidentally, the fact that I specifically asked for one blue and one purple pair puzzled my husband no end. When they arrived, and before they got wrapped, he studied them closely, trying to work out what the difference between them was. Both pointy, both sharp, one a fraction of an inch longer than the other but otherwise identical. My explanation was less than sensational: I simply wanted different colours so it would be easier to remember which were the goldwork ones …
I managed to play with my Tamar Embroideries threads quite a bit, which was fun and in some ways surprising. From the descriptions on their website I had expected the four types of thread I ordered to be one equivalent to perle #5, two equivalents to perle #8, and one equivalent to perle #12. (I’m leaving out the ribbon for the moment, as it is a completely different thing and not suitable for Hardanger, but I will come back to it at a later date.) When the threads arrived and I compared them with DMC perles, one of the #8 equivalents seemed a lot closer to a #5.
But however informative the look and feel of a thread can be, there’s really only one way to find out how they behave in action, and that is to stitch with them! So I stitched 5 of my little Hardanger trial motifs in different combinations on 25ct Lugana. The blur in the bottom right-hand corner is a little experiment I am keeping secret for the moment .
The first combination is Combed Cotton for the Kloster blocks and Matt cotton for everything else. The Combed Cotton works well, it gives good coverage and has a perle-like texture. It is quite twisty, however – if you don’t dangle your needle frequently the thread is likely to curl up and work itself into a tight spiral as you try to pull it through the fabric. Nevertheless, I like it; with a bit of care it stitches up well and the look is good. As you can see the Matt is almost the same thickness as the Combed, but with less texture. It is just about all right for the woven bars, although they are quite thick, but the backstitch and especially the dove’s eye lose all definition.
Here Combed Cotton is combined with Brodery Cotton. This is much more perle-like, and it works well for the woven bars. It’s still a little thick for backstitch (it definitely feels a little heavier than a standard perle #8) but the dove’s eye looks fine. This pair seems closest in look and feel to a standard perle #5 / perle #8 combination.
Combed Cotton paired with Fine Cotton Perle gives an airier look. The backstitch and dove’s eye are well-defined and delicate, and the Fine Cotton Perle handles much like a standard #12 perle. It takes about 9 weaves to cover a bar; in comparison, the Brodery Cotton takes 6, and when I use a standard perle #8 I tend to do 7 weaves.
Because the Matt Cotton was so much heavier than I expected I tried using it for Kloster blocks. Coverage was unexpectedly good (it is not quite as thick as a standard #5) although occasionally it was difficult to poke in the cut ends so that they stayed put. The texture is much smoother than that of the Combed Cotton. Used with the Brodery Cotton I found there wasn’t enough contrast between the two threads.
Matt Cotton combined with Fine Cotton Perle has more contrast, and I like the additional contrast between the matt Kloster blocks and the shiny bars and dove’s eye. This combination of threads may work rather well on a 28ct fabric.
So will I be buying more of these threads? Definitely! Which ones? That’s a bit more difficult. I like the look of the Fine Cotton Perle but I don’t like having to do lots of weaves or wraps for the bars. For the Kloster blocks I am almost sure I’ll go for the Combed Cotton rather than the Matt, simply because the Combed Cotton gives slightly better coverage and has more texture to it; it also works better with the Brodery Cotton which would be my choice for a #8 substitute. What will probably happen is that I’ll get the Combed, Brodery and Fine Perle in most colours, so I can vary the thickness of the bars and filling stitches. I may even use three threads per project: Combed Cotton for the Kloster blocks, Brodery Cotton for the bars, and Fine Cotton Perle for the filling stitches and any backstitch. Now how many shades can I afford to get …