Updated January 10, 2020.
A reader, wrote to ask me about linen threads for needlepoint.
Finding linen thread is somewhat problematic. It’s one of my favorite thread, but many folks don’t like it. Here’s a rundown of what’s available.
Rainbow Linen (from Rainbow Gallery): two-ply Swedish Linen, solid colors. I really like this thread and use it for lots of things. It has the best color range of any linen, including some nice bright solids. The company used to make two thickneses of natural linen, but they are no longer available.
Flax n’Colors (from The Thread Gatherer) also a two-ply linen, that is hand-dyed. It is no longer made. This company makes Oriental Linen, a silk/linen blend. The two fibers take up dyed differently, so it has a natural tweedy effect which is more pronounced in the darker and brighter colors. I haven’t used it much but I like it.
Linen Floss (from DMC): six strandable plies, is no longer available. This is a shame because it’s a great thread. If you can find it someplace, snatch it up.
Londonderry Linen (from Access Commodities): three-ply linen in four sizes and a small color range.
Linen thread is classified by a two number system, such as 16/2. The first number is a relative indication of size, while the second is the number of plies. 18 and 16 work well for 14 and 18 mesh.
Linen naturally is uneven and using it, even in Basketweave will give your needlepoint a more rustic look. In addition, almost all colors of linen are soft and most lines emphasize natural colors. Linen has a natural sheen and look which is unlike any other fiber.
If you want to be more adventurous go to weaver’s supply shops, weavers tend to really like linen. One reason is that linen is extremely strong for its size. I have noticed that if you find a stitcher who loves linen thread, they probably are also a weaver or have woven in the past.
I will also confess that I simply adore linen. I wish it was more popular than it is. If you are looking for a fun thread which is easy to sue, try some linen.