Silk threads

Spring is here, and there so many distractions. For one thing, the garden needs to be prepared for the seeds and plants, and it is so nice to be out in the sun.

Even so, my Su embroidery project is progressing at a steady rate.  I spend between 2 and 4 hours on it most days, with the occasional day doing other things which need to be done.  I am enjoying it but as the weeks pass my perception could change.  I have already broken off to prepare another, much smaller project which I can take to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, and it is tempting me.  I once took a project of this size to a meeting and found it very difficult not to keep knocking the people to either side of me.

Today I will address thread problems, knot-problems, and not-problems.

When I unpacked the thread for my Su embroidery project and spread it out it looked beautiful, gleaming up at me. On Youtube I had found how to deal with a skein.  Quite simple, straighten it out, find the knot, and snip through all the threads.  Then hold the thread in the middle and braid before putting onto a rod.  Professional embroiderers simply drape or knot the threads unbraided over a rod which is beside them as they work, so they can select each thread as it is needed.

By the time I got to deciding how to deal with the thread, some of the skeins were a little tangled and the brown was very tangled.  So the brown was straightened out, and cut as described, and eventually braided.  I did not cut the others, as I was not too sure about the length of thread to work with.

Someone who embroiders for a living can probably work successfully with a much longer thread than most people.  The others were just twisted and put onto a card.  It was a mistake not to braid the brown threads, as this stops them getting more messy.

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The point I want to make here is that this is a problem, but not a disaster. It helps when working with any fine thread if your hands are not rough, to avoid snags.  However, filament silk is very strong, and a tangle like this can be remedied in a few minutes.  I simply took each thread in turn and pulled between my finger and thumb a few times and voila!

 

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These are the same threads.  If you closely you will be able to see how the thread splits naturally in two roughly equal parts.  There are still a few fuzzy bits, but these tend to straighten out as the thread passes through the fabric.

The other problem I  had with the thread was to do with the colours.  As I mentioned, the printing was paler than the threads.  This means that I have tended to use less of the darker colours colours when stitching the leaves and stalks.  Maybe I have used the threads correctly, but I won’t really know until I have stitched the flowers.  At the bottom left there were more leaves which were not green.  Cream and coral pink and brown  were needed.  The  yellow thread is too bright and the pinks are too rose-y. I considered using some of my other silk threads, maybe splitting them and untwisting – too much effort.

Eventually I came up with the idea of colouring some of the silk with silk paint.  I tried a length of the first and third shades of pink, using yellow paint in an egg-cup, with a little water added.  It takes a little practice, to drain the thread without squeezing the colour out, before drying it.  Two immersions worked well.  The colour was a little uneven, but it really did not matter in this instance.  The dried threads then had to be ironed to set the colour before they could be used.

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In case you are wondering I am working with a thread length of about 16″ (40cm), which is not so different to the length of a cut skein.  The demos on YouTube show the thread knotted onto the needle, leaving a small tail.  In the demos the stitches are quite long, so the end of the thread is reached before the knot comes undone.  Not so with mine, as my stitches are quite small in some areas.  Also there are a few occasions when I want to undo a stitch or two because the angle is all wrong.  That doesn’t happen in the demos!

As it comes off the skein, the separated thread has a slight twist, which straightens out as the thread passes through the fabric.  I keep giving it a little twist back, as this helps the individual fibres to stay together.

I have found it interesting to use a thread which I had not previously tried, and to learn how best to handle it.  Another thing I found as I used thread straight from an uncut skein, is that it becomes difficult not to tangle the skein.  To avoid this I wound all the threads except the brown onto the middles of used toilet rolls. Two colours fit on one cylinder. They have so many uses!

This has proved successful, as I don’t need to touch the wound thread.  I just pick up the card cylinder, hold the loose end, and unwind a length before snipping it off.

Next time I will discuss various aspects of this project with the benefit of hindsight

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April 15, 2016. Tags: , , . Chinese embroidery, Embroidery, Filament silk, Su embroidery, Thread.

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