More Mulberry silk

Last week I tried out some Mulberry silks which I’d had in my stash for some time, to see how well they were suited to Hardanger. The Thick and Medium silks I tried first were both a little on the chunky side compared to #5 and #8 perle cottons. I don’t mind that so much for the Kloster blocks, where good solid coverage is a bit of a bonus to my mind, but if you’re going to use the thinner thread for backstitch as well as worked bars and filling stitches it can look better when it’s a bit thinner than a #8. On the other hand, too thin and you end up having to work an endless amount of weaves or wraps to give your worked bars decent coverage.

I intended to try out Mulberry’s Thin silk as a substitute for Medium, but just looking at it on the bobbin made it quite clear that it was going to be far too thin. Mulberry give the thickness of their threads in the x/y format which I’m still trying to get my head round. It means, as far as I’ve been able to work out, that the thread consists of y number of plies, and each ply has the thickness x, where a higher x means a thinner thread. Apparently it’s all based on the number of 840-yard hanks you get from a pound of thread. I assume that’s an imperial rather than a metric pound, but whichever it is, after about ten seconds of trying to work this out my eyes start to glaze over and I decide that I can spend the time much more enjoyably stitching.

It boils down to this – as with perle cottons, the higher the number the thinner the thread. And a 30/3 thread is equivalent in thickness to a 20/2 thread, although I’m sure it makes a difference whether it is, for example, very tightly twisted. Anyway, Mulberry Silks’ Thick silk is a 10/3, Medium is a 30/3 and Fine a 100/3. So the trick would be to find something between 30 and 100. Enter their Quilting silk, which is a 70/3.

The Quilting silk is lovely for the little backstitch motifs, with a very nice shine and crisp detail,and it makes a beautifully lacy square filet, but it is quite thin for the woven bars and takes a lot of weaving to get good coverage. Probably the best solution would be to use Thick for Kloster blocks, Medium for bars, and Quilting for filling stitches and backstitch.

Mulberry silks

Yesterday the postman brought me some lovely Treenway silks to add to my collection – watch this space for a further silk Hardanger experiment!

2 comments on “More Mulberry silk

  1. The quilting silk is very interesting. You are right: the back stitch detail is much crisper than with pearl #8, but better than #12 can be too thin. What are the colourways like? (As to figuring out the whys and wherefores of silk thicknesses…. I’m glad you are attempting it, rather than I!

    Regarding the endless wraps: I usually think of hardanger working best in odd numbers. So I usually wrap bars with 7 wraps. Your 9 wraps doesn’t seem too many to me, anyway, and the coverage is fine. ????

  2. Yes, I do like the Quilting silk – it’s a useful thickness. When I wanted to order these silks some time back, Patricia from Mulberry Silks sent me some samples of the various thicknesses, and an approximate indication of the number of shades. Thick comes in about 35, but for Quilting she merely said “good range of colours”; I assume that means it’s available in most of the colours that Medium and Fine come in.

    I hadn’t actually realised I’d used 9 wraps; it just felt like a lot! I must admit to a rather slapdash approach with these little experiments *blush* – I just keep weaving/wrapping until I’m happy with the coverage and make no attempt to have the same number of weaves/wraps for every bar. I hasten to add that for "proper" projects I do, of course! Like you I generally find I end up with 7 wraps, although not from any conscious decision about odd and even numbers, and quite often 6 prove to be enough (with some of the slightly thicker speciality threads that I substitute for #8).

    On the whole I think my ideal combination on 25ct Lugana would be #5 for the Kloster blocks, #8 for the bars, and #12 for the filling stitches and any backstitch, but because I so often move from bars to filling stitches and back again, I tend to end up with #8 for both (and in some cases, where the bar is as it were part of the filling as with picots and Greek crosses, you can’t help but work them in the same thickness).

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