— my opinion and experience – answering here since this is a question I get frequently — the best thing is to do a test of the thread in the context you are using it.
Choosing silk for embroidery – here are my hints –
Silk is either reeled or made from bits glued together. This is because it is either reeled off the cocoon or the cocoon is cut up to get the bug out. Most medieval silk is reeled. It makes a difference on the shine. Silk essence is rayon not silk – fyi.
Splendor is cut up. I find 1 in 6 cards is too much of a bitch to work with and toss it. BUT it is what I use for price, shine, and general ease of use for teaching.
Pearsalls is reeled. It is the main one I will use for fine blackwork due to the awesome shine with Au Ver Soie 100/3 as my backup since Pearsalls is hard to get in the US. I also use the 100/3 for my goldwork.
Au Ver Soie – reeled – Ovale is too thick for fine work but works well for motifs in the 2-3″ diameter range. Trame is lovely for fine work. Paris has a slight twist which makes it easier to work on detached buttonhole and stitches with lots of “rubbing” while working.
Subtelty is Rainbow Gallery equal to #12 pearl, Elegance is #8, Grandeur is #5 — these are heavily twisted but will take a lot of abuse/use and still have a lovely shine. Don’t think they are reeled.
Trebizond – reeled – 12 ply twisted. If you untwist it. Straighten and dampen with a cloth. You have awesome fine threads of silk. It is my go to when I need to do shading.
DeVere silk – reeled – from the UK – has a bit of twist to it but lovely to work with and super close in diameter to much of the historical silk embroidery used.
Here is an article I wrote a number of years ago about silk threads. Hope this helps. http://www.bayrose.org/AandS/handouts/Silk_Article-1.pdf
Sabrina de la Bere
Period Stitches (#3 in a series)
One of the most frequently asked questions in the Guild is, “What stitches are period?” This article, the third in a series of six, looks at the third category of the Apprenticeship Program, Whitework.
This article first appeared in the Guild newsletter, the Filum Aureum, Summer 2000.
by Aldith Angharad St. George
Whitework is a general term for embroidery worked on white linen fabric with a white (usually linen) thread. There are many forms and styles of Whitework. Some forms use texture for effect, such as counted brick stitch or satin stitch work, and can be strictly classified as embroidery. Other forms rely on open spaces made in the fabric for their effect, such as pulled-thread and especially drawn-thread work. These forms of whitework lead to the needle laces of the 16th century. Whitework can also include outlines and details worked with a black, brown or dark blue thread of wool or silk.Continue reading Whitework
Tent, tenters & tenterhooks: some historical canvas work
by Christian de Holacombe
I had one of those “revelation moments” a while back — where you suddenly put two pieces of information, both of which you already knew, together for the first time, and it dawns on you, “Oh, so THAT’s why…”
This particular one was about tent stitch, that simple little diagonal stitch that looks like half of a cross stitch and is so often used for the modern embroidery on canvas that we (inaccurately) call “needlepoint” or “tapestry work.”Continue reading Tent, Tenters & Tenterhooks
SHOW AND TELL
Tapestries of the Known World
Hmmmmmm. A medieval embroidery that tells a story … whose drawing style is easy to copy … worked in a fairly easy stitch … in inexpensive materials?Continue reading Tapestries of the Known World
by Baroness Eowyn Amberdrake, Caid
Canvaswork in Elizabethan England was more than simply using Tent stitch to create an overall design, though that was certainly used. In particular, many of the surviving Elizabethan and Jacobean sweet bags were worked on fine linen canvas in a variety of stitches, some counted and others surface, all used together on the same piece.Continue reading Sweet Canvaswork
Stars, Spangles & Studs
by Christian de Holacombe, Guild Chronicler
All that glitters is not gold — but glitter makes a magnificent show, and to royalty, nobles and wealthy people through the ages, that’s good enough. Spangles, studs, bezants, sequins, medallions, and other glittery bits of metal have decorated rich clothing for almost as long as we have surviving bits of clothing at all.Continue reading Stars, Spangles & Studs
Stalking the Wild Assisi
By Baroness Kathryn Goodwyn, O.L.
I fell in love with Assisi work many years ago but researching and collecting patterns of it has proved an elusive task. At times I have felt like a detective, and so I decided to share some of my frustrations and experiences with you. My interest in the subject started when I was researching SCA period needlework, just over 20 years ago. I would occasionally see some fascinating designs pushed to the back or side of a page or an article. The technique was the opposite of regular counted cross-stitch, as the design was outlined, then the background filled in densely with cross stitch. The actual pattern was made by the unworked ground fabric. This “negative” effect gave the Assisi work a woodcut quality that I found very rich and unique.Continue reading Stalking the Wild Assisi
Smooth as silk: Split stitch Embroidery
— Mistress Isela di Bari, Guild Patron
It is a simple stitch, yet has enriched the noblest of medieval embroideries. It is an easy stitch to learn, yet difficult to master. It is one stitch of many used by modern embroiderers, yet enjoys a long history spanning centuries, countries, and cultures. The versatile split stitch is an excellent choice for outlining, completely filling, shading, or delineating detail within a period design.Continue reading Smooth as Silk: Split Stitch Embroidery
Silk: An Endless Thread
– by Sabrina de la Bere, Guild Minister
The more I play with silk thread for historical embroidery, the more I get curious about the history of silk, what was used for the historic embroideries, and the modern equivalents. And of course, part of playing with different silk threads is only an excuse to add to my “stash”.Continue reading Silk: An Endless Thread (Parts 1 & 2)
The Seagirt Shire Tapestry
by Isela di Bari
In July 1999 the Shire of Seagirt, located in the Kingdom of An Tir, became a Barony! The Shire’s history has been immortalized in an embroidery which is now referred to as the Seagirt Tapestry.Continue reading The Seagirt Shire Tapestry