Since childhood I have been in love with thread and yarn. In high school, for reasons unknown to me, I stated buying every bright green shade of thread I could find. Eventually I did an embroidery on cloth with them. Also in high school my mom and I would go far afield looking for the unusual in threads. In co0llege I dyed my own threads.
As a newlywed we lived down the street from an amazing fiber ats store. They carried dyes, knitting yarns, fabric, and tons of odds and ends of yarns and threads. It was there I bought my first hand-dyed Persian Wool, in violet and pink. I used it in a mini-sock similar to the one below. I also found and used #1 pearl cotton (I don’t know of anyone else who has even seen it). And tons of other great threads.
That’s a long way of saying I’ll stitch with anything and I’ll look in unusual places for great new threads. Here’s some great threads and yarns to consider for your needlepoint.
Koigu — KPPM is a sockweight (or fingering) yarn made from Merino wool. It’s hand-dyed in Canaada in the most amazing colors. It was used for all the cats in the Patt & Lee canvas pictured at the top of the article. I just love it and I adore the colors. If you are stitching Bargello, KPPM is outstanding on 13, 14, or 18 mesh. For diagonal stitches, it’s best on 13 mesh. Find it at knitting shops.
It comes in 10 variegated colors and over 250 solids (which are softly shaded).
Sashiko & Kogin — Sashiko is a Japanese quilting technique that was hisorically done in natural threads on indigo-dyed fabrics Today,it’s gaining popularity with a wder variety of colors for both thread and fabric. While there are many manufacturers of Sashiko thread, Olympus is the biggest.
Olympus Shashiko thread comes in 85m skeins in 20 solid colors. You can also find a smaller selection of solids as well as some variegated colors in 20m skeins. This thread is a matte single strand thread similar in size to # 5 pearl cotton, although Daruma says it is the size of #8 pearl.
Other manufacturers of Sahiko thread include Hido (125m skeins), Daruma (30m on cards or 100m in skeins), SavourCraft (100m skeins), Aizenkobo (150m skeins, Maito (natural-dyed 7m skeins), and Hobbira Hobbire (56m skeins). Kakishibu is a hand-dyed thread with tannin that is produced in 20m skeins in several browns in an unusual process.
Kogin is a form of pattern darning from Japan. Although most Sashiko threads can also be used for kogin, flosses are also popular. Daruma makes Kogin thread in 20m packages. Olympus makes multi-color flosses on 12m cards. Their solid-color floss comes in 18m skeins. Koginbank makes a single-strand Kogin thread in 15m skeins. Orimpass makes variegated floss in 18m skeins.
I find all these threads on Etsy.
The picture below shows Blackwork stitched with Sashiko thread.
Crochet cottons — Crochet can be done in any knitting yarn, but it is so often stitched with cotton that crochet cotton is a specific kind of thread. That’s great news for needlepointers because it gives us more choices in threads. Unhappily though, crochet cotton sizes are not the same as pearl cotton sizes.
It’s pretty easy to decipher crochet cotton sizes. The most common sizes are 10, 20, and 40. 10wt crochet cotton is just a bit thicker than #5 pearl cotton and can be used like it. 20 wt crochet cotton is the size of #8 pearl, while 40wt is the size of #12 pearl.
Sugar n’Crream is an inexpensive and widely available thick crochet cotton. It comes in 2.5 ounce (120 yards) packages and in 1 pound cones. In knitting terms it’s a worstee weight yarn which makes it too thick for needlepoint on meshes smaller than 10, It is a 4-ply yarn, so it can easily be thinned. It’s been awhile since I used it, but one ply would be a good place to start for 18 mesh. Because it is so inexpensive, consider this a a very practical choice for backgrounds. It’s a matte soft thread, similar to DMC Matte Cotton in texture.
This just scratches the surface of crochet threads. I’ve found so many that look like intriguing possibilities.
What Do I Do with these threads?
When I find a thread I want to try I buy a skein in one or more of my favorite colors. I have a place in my thread storage for odds & ends, which is where these threads live. I then go there to find threads to use for small projects. On Thursday, i’ll look at some other places to find interesting threads beyond cotton.