Today we take for granted all the wonderful threads available. Your stash likely contains cotton, wool, silk, and linen threads. But what about those shiny fibers that add so much more to your projects, the metallics? In this article we are going to look at the history and use of the popular Kreinik metallic threads.
First, let’s clarify “metal” versus “metallic” threads. Metal threads really do contain metal such as gold, silver, and pewter. Embroidery dating back to 3000 b.c. used gold thread and embellishments. Gold symbolizes the Sun and only the wealthy could afford this luxury. The process for creating these threads is tedious. The metal is pounded into very thin strips. That strip is then wrapped around a thread core made of linen, cotton, or silk. That helps to explain why these threads are so expensive.
We have started to carry many real metal threads, and they are typically used in goldwork embroidery where they are couched down with silk couching threads for stunning results.
Thankfully, there is a wide array of “metallic” threads available that fit better into our budgets. These threads normally do not contain any precious metal but are made of synthetic compounds. The Kreinik Manufacturing Company is a leading producer of metallic and silk threads. They will celebrate their 45th year in business in 2017.
It all started in 1971 with Jerry Kreinik. Jerry was a chemical engineer living in Parkersburg, WV loking for a job. Estelle, his wife, often went with him as he travelled around looking for work. She always had a stitching project with her. As most of us can relate, soon her stash began to overflow in their car. Jerry asked her to find a way to contain and tame her supplies. So, Estelle created the first portable needlwork case. Jerry sold the cases to needlework stores as he continued travelling for work. Thus, the Kreinik Manufacturing Company was born in 1972.
Jerry and Estelle were very knowledgeable about historical clothing. In addition, Estelle was a textile arts professor. They noticed that the local needlework shops did not carry threads suitable for recreating these exquisite pieces of the past.
Together they worked to create a new line of metallic threads which they introduced in the late 1970’s. It is hard to imagine, but they started with only 15 colors in 3 sizes, known under the name Balger.
Fast forward, and Doug, their son, joined the family business. Then Andrew, another son, and his wife Jacqueline, also joined the company. This trio bought the conpany and continued expanding the thread selection and changed the brand to Kreinik. Today Kreinik offers metallic threads in braid, cord, and cable in a wide palette of colors!
Let’s take a closer look at the most widely used sizes of braids.
This is a very thin, single-ply 67% rayon/33% polyester thread with a thin string core. Use the thread as it comes off the spool. You may use the blending filament by itself for a background or filling stitch. Use several strands together for more coverage. It is also beautiful when combined with other fibers to add a hint of highlights. There are 50 meters on a spool.
TIP: When combining blending filament with another fiber, lightly moisten the combined threads or use a product like Thread Heaven so they will lie better as you stitch.
Overstithing is another way to use Blending Filament. First stitch your main thread, such as snow on a branch, then go back and add highlights such as pearl opalescent along the top of the snow.
To learn more tips and dispell some of the myths about Blending Filament check out this fabulous resource by Kreinik.
The braid is round and made with multiple strands of blending filament. You want to use it as it comes off the spool. There are several sizes, so you are able to find the best one for your project.
Very Fine #4 Braid is perfect for cross sittch (16-18 count) and for light coverage in needlepoint (18-30 count). 12 yards per spool.
Fine #8 Braid also works for cross stitch (14-18 count) and needlepoint (18-30 count) and perforated paaper (14 count). 11 yards per spool.
Tapestry #12 Braid will cover larger needlepoint canvas (14 count) and cross stitch (11 count). 11 yards per spool.
Medium #16 Braid also works for needlepoint canvas (14 count) and cross stitch (11 count). 11 yards per spool.
Heavy #32 Braid is used for larger count fabric like 7 count popcorn, 10-14 count needlepoint and 11-count cross stitch. 11 yards per spool.
TIP: Moisten the thread to help reduce twisting.
CARE: Blending filament and braids are hand- and machine-washable. They can also be dry cleaned. If you need to iron the piece, use a pressing cloth, do not iron directly on the braid. Also, do not use steam.
Probably most of us have used the braid in at least one project, but the blending filament may be a bit of a mystery. Let’s compare the fibers.
This sample is stitched on 14-count Aida using the Blending Filament and Braid in sizes 4, 8, and 12 in color #002. First, there is a line of backstitches over two fabric threads, then cross stitch over two threads, and finally cross stitch over one thread (except for size 12 braid). As you can see, it is important to use the correct size to provide the coverage you want.
Now, let’s look at the effects blending filament can have on your stitching.
The first green line is stitched with two strands of DMC floss over one fabric thread. The second line is the same green floss with one strand of #002 blending filament. The gold highlights show up randomly because a laying tool was not used to make sure the filament was always seen.
Next, using Watercolors, the first two lines illustrate the Watercolours with no blending filament and then with blending filament added. The next two lines are cross stitches over two fabric threads, first without the blending filament and the second row with it. Again, the blending filament shows up randomly in the stitches.
Finally, the last line shows what would happen if you stitched the Watercolours base first and then did a cross stitch over the top with the blending filament. This time the glimmer is more evident in the stitching.
It is a fun way to play with your fibers! What has been your experience with blending filament?
- Kreinik website http://www.kreinik.com/
- Metallic Thread Embroidery: A practical guide to stitching creatively with metallic threads by Jacqueline Friedman Kreinik, 2000
We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!
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