Silk threads have a lot of great qualities. It is one of the strongest fibers. It is easy to clean. It reflects light beautifully. And it is easy to use!
This Silk Primer refers to threads which are 100% silk, rather than the threads which are a combination of fibers, such as silk and wool for example.
Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind when using silk threads.
Your hands should be clean and as smooth as possible. Very dry skin and ragged edges around your cuticle can snag the fiber as you stitch.To remedy this, try some hand lotion before stitching.
When you use a stretcher bar with silk threads you may want to lightly sand the edges of your stretcher bars or wrap them with either artists canvas tape. or bias tape. However, if you put the stretcher bars on the edge of the canvas (the plain border area) rather than on the stitching area, you will not snag the threads.
The needle you use with silk threads is also important. The eye should be smooth, and large enough so that the thread glides through, but not so large as to distort the canvas you are working on. A number 20 needle is a good size for many counts.
Cut the threads either a maximum of 18 inches or from the tip of your middle finger to your elbow. A longer thread can knot up a little easier and may become fuzzy with repeated pull through - however, a good quality silk should never become fuzzy or split.
There are two type of silk threads. One is divisible, such as Needlepoint Inc. silk threads, and silk threads which do not need to be divided, such as Vineyard Silk threads. If you are using a silk that needs to be divided it allows you more control over color placement and allows you to blend colors through the needle per stitch. When using a divisible fiber be sure to separate the plys to the appropriate density (number of plys) before you begin your stitch.
A two step or stab motion is better with silk threads than a hand sewing in and out motion.
Silk threads can untwist as you stitch. If this occurs you can turn the canvas upside down and let the needle hang freely. This will reset the thread and be ready to stitch with again.You can also roll the thread between two fingers (the thumb and forefinger is often the easier) after a few stitches, but a good quality silk when stitched with the dab motion/stitch should not cause you any twisting or splitting. Some recommend a laying tool, but using a laying tool is not for
everyone. Using the right needle, a good quality fiber and the right
Do not wet the silk threads to clean or to untwist. The dyes can bleed. We will discuss cleaning and blocking a canvas with silk threads in a future post.
Some suggestions on when to use silk versus cotton or wool will be in a future post.
If you have never stitched with silk threads, now is the time! With so many beautiful fibers available, and thousands of colors, your canvases will be stunning and you will be very pleased with the result.
Hi, I took a needlepoint class when I was in my 20's, now I am in my
60's. In cleaning out my Mother-in-law's home we found knitting yarn, crewel embroidery and needlepoint kits. I picked up a needlepoint pillow
canvas that had been started by Mother and
now I work on it every chance I get.
So, how does one restart a hobby
such as needlepoint?
I love your web site, and your canvases.
particularly entranced with the Irish Wolfhound canvas, as I live with
and show IW's. I am looking forward to the class
on fur and feather stitches to help me on the IW canvas.
In Pre-Columbian traditions, nature and culture were one. Their heritage is rich with intense symbols and identification with the animal world. This pattern represents the sea and the fish and killer whales which were a part of everyday life in the Andean culture when they fished for food.Or is this an allegory describing the struggle between rival chiefdoms or regions?