Anne Stradal had a great post last week about stitching with raffia. She’s right, it’s the best for making straw and such.
Besides being inexpensive, “green,” and widely available, you can use it as ribbon for your wrapping. If you want to do this, buy a roll of raffia and wind off about 10 yards and put it in your thread stash. It should meet your stitching needs for years.
Her tips on using raffia are great, and I can’t wait to use them on the manger in the Wild Olive nativity I’m working on.
I also want to let you know about a couple of alternatives to raffia. The Thread Gatherer makes Sea Grass, a raffia-like cotton thread, packaged for needlework. Judi & Co also makes a raffia(pictured about a third of the way down the page). If you’re looking for alternatives in the craft store, consider paper twist. Although it does come in colors, I think of it as twists of brown paper bags. That’s the weight and texture of it. It’s twisted, so to stitch with it, you’d need to unwrap it and cut it into strips. It’s weaker than raffia, so you will need to be even more careful. In the 70’s there was also a plastic raffia (I used iit to cover styrofoam balls) but I haven’t seen it in ages.