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!

Enabling and two new threads

There are words which mean something completely different depending on the context. On my favourite stitching forum we often use the term "enabler". It means someone who tells you about a new supplier, designer, fabric, thread, embellishment, piece of equipment, anything stitch-related, really – and thereby enables you to add many lovely things to your stitching stash. Although this may lead to a severe strain on the budget, it is generally seen as A Good Thing. Imagine my surprise when I found out today that out there in the non-stitching world "enabling" may also refer to "unhelpful help", for example by making it possible for an alcoholic to keep feeding his addiction. This "enabling prevents psychological growth in the person being enabled". Oh dear. Well, I think I can safely say that stitch-enabling has no such negative effects; provided you handle your stash budget sensibly, there are few things as pleasant as finding new materials, browsing a site, deciding which colours to get and what you’ll use them for.

My unconditional thanks, therefore, to that kind fellow-member of the Cross Stitch Forum who pointed me to an eBay seller called michigandoctor; she has the most amazing collection of hand-dyed threads including some beautiful silk perles, and is extremely helpful and quick to reply to emails. I should have some Gloriana and Thread Gatherer silk perles coming my way soon …

Meanwhile I decided to alleviate the waiting period by playing with some more of the silk threads already in my stash. I like buying one or two skeins of silks (and other speciality threads) that I don’t know, to see what they might be used for. You may remember the Gumnut silk Hardanger experiment on 36ct linen I did a while back. Well, there were some other threads which might be good for Hardanger but which I hadn’t tried yet.

The first two of these are Mulberry Silks’ Thick and Medium Silk Twist. Mulberry Silks come in lots of different weights or thicknesses, and most of the sets they sell are Medium and Fine weight. For Hardanger on 25ct these are too thin a combination – Fine looks rather thinner than a #12 perle, and Medium is about the thickness of a #8. Their Thick silk twist feels a bit heavier than a #5. But enough of the numbers, how do they stitch up and are they nice to work with?

Well, the Thick silk gives great coverage on 25ct Lugana – perhaps a little too much even, as it can be tricky to get the satin stitches in a Kloster block to lie neatly parallel. They do look lovely and plump, though, and getting rid of those pesky cut ends is no trouble at all with such a lot of Kloster block to hide them in. The Medium silk has a lovely sheen and produces a well-defined dove’s eye, but if you like a lacier effect the Fine silk may be the better choice. I did not stitch the little backstitch corner motifs I usually include in my Hardanger experiments, but I feel that the Medium silk may be just a little too chunky for that.

Mulberry silks

All in all lovely threads to work with, the only drawback being the limited number of shades in which the Thick silk is available. As for the Fine silk, I may need to stitch another experiment to see how that one looks "in action" …