301: Metallic & Synthetic Fibers

Today we are going to finish up with the information on threads. Mark your calendars for September 29th. Swedish Weaving is the topic and we have a special treat for you. Sue has designed a beautiful pattern just for this issue. It will be yours free!!

Did you ever think there could be so many different types of threads and fibers? I still vividly recall my first day as a part-time clerk in the Nordic Needle store. Beth took me around pointing out this collection of threads, that rack of fibers, the bins of metallic threads, and don’t forget the over-dyed skeins on the walls and racks. I am still not sure how I made it through that first day! We’re hoping we haven’t gotten you as confused as I was and you are ready to wrap up the threads information. There is a lot to go through, so hold on to your work basket while we look at animal fibers and man-made fibers….

Wool Threads

Wool is the fiber derived from the specialized skin cells, called follicles, of animals in the Caprinae family, principally sheep, but the hair of certain species of other mammals such as goats, llamas and rabbits may also be called wool. Wool has several qualities that distinguish it from hair or fur: it is crimped, it has a different texture, it is elastic and grows in staples (clusters) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wool). Virgin wool means wool not processed or woven before (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/virgin+wool).

From DMC:

  • DMC Medici – is 100% virgin wool, two-ply, nondivisible, with 27 yards per skein. Colors are comparable to DMC floss colors with the number “8” in front of them. Use for crewel, needlepoint and cross stitch.
    This beautiful pattern uses DMC Medici:

From the Rainbow Collection:

  • Rainbow Tweed – 44% cotton, 39% wool, 17% acrylic with 10 yards (9.1 meters) on a card. Because of the different thread types, it absorbs dye unevenly, which adds to its rustic look. It is great for stitching large areas such as sky, water, mountains, and greenery. It is a 4-plky divisible thread that can be used on any count. It comes in solid and over-dyed colors which blend well with Overture, Encore! And Bravo! Colors. For needlepoint use, 4 strands for 13-16 cou7nt,m 2 stands on 18 count canvas. For cross stitch use 1 strand on 18 count, 2 strands on 11-14 count.) Made in USA.
    This fun pattern uses Rainbow Tweed:
  • Designer’s Dream – 100% Wool with 30 yards on a card. This is a very strong thread and can be used with other threads to give strength. 1 strand on Congress cloth, 2 strands on 18 count, 4 strands on 13-14 count. Made in Italy.
  • From the Caron Collection:

    Other Animal Fibers

    From the Rainbow Gallery:

    • Alpaca 18 – 100% Fine Alpaca with 12 yards per card. The Alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance. This strong thread will not fray easily. You may brush it with a Bunka Brush (6749) to fluff it up for maximum effect. Use 1 strand on 14-18 count canvas or 11 count aida. Made in Peru. To learn about alpacas check out http://www.mountairyalpacas.com/index.html.
    • Angora – Angora wool or Angora fiber refers to the downy coat produced by the Angora rabbit. While their names are similar, Angora fiber is distinct from mohair, which comes from the Angora goat. Angora is known for its softness, low micron count 100% Angora with 7 yards (6.4 meters) on a card. This fiber is very "furry". Don’t use a length longer than 20". It will wear so come straight up and down when stitching. You can brush this thread carefully to help with the furry effect. Long stitches will give you more of a furry effect. Use one thread for 13-16 count canvas and 7 count cross stitch. Made in France.
    • Cashmere Rainbow – 100% Cashmere, which is a fiber from a cashmere goat. 9 yards (8.2 meters) per card. Use one thread 14-18 count canvas or 7-14 count fabric. Made in France.
    • Wisper – 70% Kid Mohair, 30% Nylon, with 20 yards per card. Mohair is made from the hair of the Angora goat. This is a very fine fuzzy thread. It is necessary to add threads to get a thickness to cover your canvas or fabric. You can double this thread over your needle. It can be brushed to bring out the fullness. Try combining it with other threads such as Designer’s Dream to give it strength and depth. Use 4 strands on 13-14 cont canvas, 2 strands on 18 count and 1 strand on 22 count fabric. Made in Italy.

    We asked some of the folks here at Nordic Needle to share their favorite Specialty Fibers with us…

    Roz sometimes has help with her Hardanger.

    Harley likes to drape himself over her arm as she stitches, so you know she gets to spend a few minutes picking out Harley’s “specialty fibers” from her stitching when she is done. Here is Roz and Harley relaxing after an afternoon of stitching.

    Debi has a houseful of specialty fibers. Doesn’t matter whether she’s working on light or dark fabric something is going to get caught up in the stitching. Skipper is a yellow Labrador and is the primary culprit. However, there are three dark-colored, long-haired cats (Willie, Gabby, and Sarge) get their fair share of hair tangled into the threads.

    Mary Ann (in Customer Service) has really gotten into 4-legged Specialty Fibers. She has been the grandmother to her two son’s dogs, with the dogs sometimes staying with her. T.J. was a pound puppy with a silky fur. Maggie was a Rottweiler-Springer Spaniel mix. About 5 years ago Mary Ann started saving the fur when she combed them. This year the fur has been carded. Her niece is going to spin it, combining it with silk threads to give it strength and length. Mary Ann plans to make something for her sons, being extra special since both dogs have since passed away. We will keep you updated on the project. Here are T.J. and Maggie enjoying the afternoon in Grandma’s yard.

    Janine works in the store and she has a 4-month-old puppy named Gus. Gus is very active and they have resorted to riding their bicycles to “walk" Gus!. By the size of his paws I think they will have a large fiber donor on their hands. Isn’t he adorable?

    Metallic / Synthetic / Rayon Threads

    From the Rainbow Gallery: (Rainbow Gallery has a large selection of specialty fibers. We do not carry all of the lines. Due to space limitations, I will go through some of the most popular fibers. For more information, please check out Jay’s stitching tips http://www.rainbowgallery.com/stitchinghints.html and Jay’s Tips on each of the fiber lines which will tell you fiber content http://www.rainbowgallery.com/jaystips.htm.)

    • Arctic Rays – Made in Italy. Best defined as wispy fringe, it has transparent fibers to give it a glistening effect. Use a larger needle and best used with long stitches. Try this thread for French knots! Use one strand on 14-18 count for long stitches.
      This holiday pattern uses Arctic Rays:
  • Cresta d’Oro -15 yards (13.7 meters) per card. Thread with a needle threader. It is a chainettes and will unravel. Use one stand on 18 count canvas, 2 strands on 12-14 count fabric. Made in England.
  • Crystal Braid – 10 yards per card. This thread has a shimmer to it. It is a very sturdy 12-strand and will not unravel or fray easily. You can use it anywhere you would use a #12 braid, such as 18 count canvas or a 11-14 count fabric. Made in Japan.
    These two canvaswork patterns use Crystal Braid:
  • Fiesta! – 6-ply strandable floss with 12 yards on a card. This thread does not need to be "popped." The plies should be separated and put back together for the maximum shine. Maintain good tension when stitching and a laying tool might be helpful. It has no grain so you can double it over your needle. You can wet the thread after putting the plies back together, let it dry. Use 6 strands on 13-14 count canvas, 5 strands on 16 count, 4 strands on 18 count, and 1 strand on Congress Cloth. Made in Mexico.
  • Flair – 10 yards per card. It has a subtle shine and the canvas color can be seen underneath. This is a tubular netting that will unravel. You will need a laying tool to stitch it flat, you do not want it to twist. You can insert other threads inside Flair to change the appearance. Use on 14-18 count canvas, long stitches on 16-24 count, or have crosses for cross stitch. Made in England.
    Check out this lovely pattern that uses flair:
  • Frosty Rays – 5 yards per card. This thread has Tiara in the center of it. For a different effect bring the thread up through the canvas, remove the needle, then slide the Frosty Rays down the Tiara to form a clump, rethread your needle and go back through the canvas, couch the bunched up Frosty Rays. Use on 12 to 18 count canvas or cross stitch with 1/2 crosses. Made in USA.
    See this pattern that uses Frosty Rays:
  • Fuzzy Stuff – 15 yards per card. Use short lengths and stitch straight up and down. Don’t brush this thread. White Fuzzy Stuff is great for snow features. Use 2 ply for 14 count canvas, one ply for 18 count canvas or 9 to 10 count cross stitch.
    Gorgeous pattern using Fuzzy Stuff:
  • Fyre Werks – has three styles:
    • Metallic Ribbon – 10 yards per card. It will fray at the ends. Do not use long pieces to stitch and be careful to lay the ribbon flat. Use one strand 13-18 count canvas, 11-22 count fabric. Made in England.
    • Hologram Ribbon – 10 yards per card. This ribbon really has a shine and dimension to it. It is a hologram that has been cut into thin strips and then braided. It is a little heavier than the other Fyre Werks and will stitch tighter on canvas. Use one strand on 12-14 count canvas or 7-11 count fabric. Made in the USA.
    • Soft Sheen – 10 yards per card. This has less shine, but more metallic. Use one strand 13-18 count canvas, 11-22 count fabric. Made in Japan.
  • Gold Rush – has four styles (Nordic Needle does not carry Gold Rush 12). These are chainettes and will unravel. Use a larger needle and come straight up and down through the fabric. You may wish to use Fray Check (6622) on your ends. Made in England.
    • Gold Rush 14 – 10 yards per card. One strand for 13-16 count canvas and 7-11 count fabric.
  • Gold Rush 18 – 10 yards per card. One strand for 18-22 count canvas or 7-14 count fabric.
  • Gold Rush XS – 20 yards (18.2 meters) on a card. One strand 18-22 count canvas or 10-16 count fabric. Can replace 4-5 strands of blending filament and will not curl up.
    Check out this adorable pattern that uses Gold Rush XS:
  • Neon Rays – 10 yards to the card. This is a ribbon and it will tend to kink, so slightly dampen it using water. Let dry before stitching. Another method is to "pop" or stretch it. This ribbon needs to lay flat. Secure your ribbon to the needle like you would silk ribbon. Use one strand for 13-18 count canvas, or 11 to 22 count fabric. Made in Japan.
  • Nordic Gold – 25 yards per card. This is a very fine metallic, excellent for needlepoint and hardanger. It is a chainettes and about the size of 2-3 strands of blending filament. Use one stand on 18-24 count canvas or fabric. Made in England.
    See this bright canvaswork pattern that uses Nordic Gold:
  • Patent Leather – 2 yards per card. This has to be worked to keep it flat. Great for Santa’s boots and belt. Use one strand on 12-14 count canvas. Made in Japan.
  • Petite Sparkle Rays – 10 yards per card. This is a 1.5 mm ribbon to be used on 18 count canvas or 11-14 count fabric. Made in Japan.
    Gorgeous pattern that uses Sparkle Rays:
  • Tiara – 10 yards per card. This is a twisted metallic making it softer and easier to use. It will fray, so use short lengths. Use 2 strands on 14 count canvas, 1 strand on 18 count canvas and for long stitches on Congress Cloth. Made in France.
  • Treasure Braid is a shiny metallic that comes in Size #4, 8 and 16, and Petite:
    • Size #4 – Use one strand for 14-22 count cross-stitch, 22-36 count canvas.
    • Size #8 – 10 yards per card. Use one strand for 14-18 count fabric or 14-18 count Canvas.
      Cute stocking pattern that uses Size #8:
  • Size #12 – 10 yard per card. For cross stitch on 11-16 count, needlepoint on 16-18 count.
  • Size #16 – 10 yards per card. Use on 7-14 count fabric or 14-18 count canvas.
  • Treasure Braid Petite – 25 yards per card. It is a 3-ply braided metallic and can replace a #4 braid or 2 plies of blending filament. For very fine work and for combining with other threads. Made in USA.
  • Water n’ Ice – 10 yards per card. This is a loosely braided transparent ribbon. Great for any reflecting surface like water, ice, mirrors, dew drops or frost. It will not wear while stitching. Long stitches will have the best effect and you will want to lay the fiber flat.
  • Click here to view the Rainbow Gallery category, with ALL the color cards we carry!
  • In the Caron Collection: We carry two of the Caron Collection synthetic threads.

    • Snow – 10 yards per skein. Made in the United Kingdom. Keep stitching length under 20 inches. This opalescent thread is equivalent to #5 pearl cotton, or six strands of floss. It tends to pick up the colors used around it. Decorative stitches look good with Snow.
      Patterns using Snow:
  • Rachel – 10 yards per skein. Made in the United Kingdom. This tubular nylon thread accommodates a large variety of canvas or fabric sizes. It has a shimmery, wet look (great for animal eyes and noses) and when stitched flat, it has a transparent appearance; compressed, it is more opaque. In addition to using it for traditional stitching, other fibers can be threaded through it or it can be stitched on top of other needlework.
  • Try out their threads with the free patterns they have listed on their website: http://www.caron-net.com/03specialclass.html
  • In the DMC collection:

    • Satin (same as Rayon) – 6-stranded thread with 8.7 yards per skein gives brightness and shimmer to your stitches. The longer the stitch the better the thread will capture the light and brightness.
      Gorgeous patterns using Satin:
  • DMC Light Effects – 6-stranded specialty threads with 8.7 yards per skein, includes Precious Metals, Jewels, Antiques, Pearlescent, Fluorescents and Glow-in-the-Dark.
  • In the EdMar Collection: EdMar produces a full line of Rayon threads that are used primarily in Brazilian and Stumpwork embroidery. There are seven weights available: Nova, Boucle, Lola, Cire, Frost, Iris, and Glory. To find out more about using these threads, refer to the Brazilian newsletter dated July 7, 2008. Learn more about EdMar at http://www.edmar-co.com/.

    In the Kreinik collection: Kreinik manufactures several metallic threads in a variety of weights.

    • Blending Filament – 1 ply usually combined with strands of other thread for cross stitch, needlepoint, weaving, smocking, lace making, card making and crochet. 55 yards per spool.
  • Cord – 1 ply. This is a thin thread use for backstitching and couching.
    Gorgeous pattern using cord:
  • Japan #1, #5, #7 – Used for needlepoint, cross stitch, smocking, and couching. Imported from Japan. #1 has 44 yards per spool. #5 and #7 has 11 yards per skein.
    Pattern using Japan Gold:
  • Cable – 3 ply twist for outlining and specialty stitches or can be couched.
    Specialty stitch patterns using cable:
  • Braids – use as a single strand for more texture and highlights. Great for scrapbooking and card making. Comes in five sizez:
    • Very Fine #4 – Cross stitch (16-18 count), Canvaswork (18-30 count) 12 yards per spool.
  • Fine #8 – Canvaswork (18-30 count), cross stitch (11-14 count). Similar to size #8 pearl cotton. 11 yards per spool.
  • Tapestry #12 – Canvaswork (14-30 count), cross stitch (11 count). Between a size #5 and #8 pearl cotton. 11 yards per spool.
  • Medium #16 – Canvaswork (14-18 count), cross stitch (11-14 count) tatting, embroidery or crochet. Similar to size #5 pearl cotton. 11 yards per spool.
    Three cute patterns using #16 braid:
  • Canvas #24 – Perfect metallic thread size for tent or continental stitch on 13- and 14-mesh needlepoint canvas. Use it to add light, shimmer, and a touch of realism to designs. 5.5 yards (5 meters) per spool.
  • Heavy #32 – Canvaswork (10-14 count), cross stitch (8-11 count), plastic canvas (7-10 count) and crochet. 11 yards per spool.
  • Ribbon – Soft and colorfast metallic. Lay flat for embroidery or couching. Ideal for ribbon embroidery, scrapbooking and card making:
    • 1/8" Ribbon – Canvaswork (10-13 count). 11 yards per spool.
      Two stunning patterns using 1/8 Ribbon:
  • 1/16" Ribbon – Canvaswork (18-24 count), cross-stitch (10-11 count) 11 yards per spool.
  • Ombre – Eight ply, soft twist, metallic thread. Has a slight fuzzy texture for Cross-stitch, Canvaswork (14-18 count) and card making. 16. 5 yards per spool.
    This Swedish weaving pattern uses Omber:
  • A great Kreinik resource is Kreinik Metallic Thread Color Chart (15003) for only $.50. It shows the sizes, colors, uses, and availability of colors in each size.
  • Check out Kreinik’s website for free patterns and tips on using their threads. Kreinik also has a wonderful line of threads for machine embroidery! http://www.kreinik.com/

    Tips Section

    Can you give us some tips on using the furry and fuzzy type of yarns? I never can get mine to fluff up. You need to stitch straight up and down to keep the threads from wearing. Keep your thread length short, less than 18 inches. If possible, use long stitches in the area rather than single stitches. This will allow more of the fuzzy ends to be exposed. You may need to use more than one ply. Stitch the areas with the fuzzy/furry thread FIRST. Use your Bunka brush to fluff that area out. Then finish stitching the area around the fuzzy thread. It is very hard to fluff just the fuzzy area if the entire area has been stitched. Trim and shape the fuzzy area when you are completely done stitching.


    Thanks to everyone who wrote us about Orts. We have included some of your suggestions in this issue. More suggestions and comments will appear in future newsletters. Here are some things to do with your Orts:

    1. Fill a container: Mary T, Ames, IA keeps a beautiful ceramic container by her stitching chair. Judy H. in NY, has a tiny lidded basket her sister decorated for her to use to collect her orts. She says "It’s fun to see how many floss bits the little basket holds – representing all the hours I enjoyed stitching!"

    2. Keep them for small projects: Monica C. has a small divided plastic tray with lid where she keeps her longer orts. She wraps the ort around her finer to make it a circle. The tray is divided by colors so it’s easy to find just the right color.

    3. Some folks have Special boxes: Pam from Cape Town, South Africa writes "I am attaching some photographs of the ORTS box that the chairman (Tricia Elvin-Jensen) of our Guild, The Cape Embroiderers’ Guild, taught to us some time ago. The one is using pulled thread work and the other she made was heavily beaded with a surprise in the bottom when you opened it. Really beautiful.”

    4. Christmas ornaments: Pat C. from Springfield, VA, takes the metallic threads and cuts them into very small pieces (with scissors meant for metallic thread!!!) and sprinkles them throughout the glass balls to give a little sparkle. Glenda D. from Calgary, AB, puts the date on her glass balls so she can look back and have a reminder of the projects she has done over the years.

    5. Stuffing: Keep your orts separated by color and use them to stuff projects like pin cushions, fobs, etc.

    6. Birds/nest building: Boy, did this open up a can of worms…..We got many emails about the pros and cons of putting threads out for the birds. Roz and Sue also addressed this in 2004. So, what is the answer? All About Birds hosted by Cornell University said you could put out string or yarn and I wanted to know if our orts qualified. I got a very nice response that we should NOT leave our orts out for the birds. There was a concern about the chemicals and dyes, and also young birds might get tangled up. One reader, Donna G. had a great suggestion "You can get balls of suitable material from wild bird supply stores." Another reader recommended saving the fur from your 4-legged specialty fibers, which is also recommended on the All About Birds site. Cornell University has agreed to change their site to clarify what type(s) string/yarn can be used. Click here to visit Cornell University’s website: All About Birds.

    7. Here is one last thought about what ORTS stands for. Karen O from MN wrote that she remembered a conversation with a friend Orv some 45 years ago. His mother was a child of the Depression and when Orv cleaned out her belongings he found a box that had printed on the top…..string too short to use. Inside he found a ball made up of tiny pieces of thread, each one carefully knotted and neatly in place which made a very colorful ball. To Karen, Orts will always stand for "Orv, Recycle This Stuff."

    We hope these "helpful hints" make your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

    For those interested in using this article or others published by Nordic Needle, Inc., please use this copy when referencing the information:

    “The following article was written by Debi Feyh and Ryan Evelyth of Nordic Needle and published in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted by Nordic Needle to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their weekly e-mail newsletter, visit www.nordicneedle.com. A free mail-order catalog is available to you upon request if you live in the USA or Canada.”

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