I’ve shown my embroidery, a slow learning curve for me. I’ve talked a little about wanting to spin my own threads after looking at the commercial variety that exists. Now I’m ready to start. I need to do more research, if you have tips or a source for me to read I’d appreciate hearing!

I’m not starting with cottons. Notice I didn’t say, “I’ll never spin cotton”, becasue I just don’t know. I’m not interested in spinning cotton right now. The threads I’m interested in spinning for embroidery are wool and wool blends, alpaca, silk and tencel.

I stopped by to hug Lisa Souza at her Rhinebeck booth and noticed she had quite a few interesting dyed fibers. I picked up a few that looked like they would be interesting thread:

From left: cashmere/silk, alpaca/silk and tencel in two colors.

From left: cashmere/silk, alpaca/silk and tencel in two colors.

I did some really quick sampling, no stitching just spinning, of the alpaca/silk and tencel.

The alpaca silk went well, it just needs to be thinner. It makes gorgeous yarn:

Lisa Souza alpaca/silk fiber and yarn.

Lisa Souza alpaca/silk fiber and yarn.

I really like the look of the light ply twist. I think it needs to be at least a third finer. I need to measure a few stitching threads that aren’t cotton to get a range to spin to.

I am a little obsessed with the idea of tencel as embroidery thread – the way it takes color, the shine!

spin emb souza tencel brown

Lisa Souza 100% tencel

I spun a little, and said a lot of words that I don’t want to commit to print. My personal newsflash is that I can’t spin tencel the way I spin most everything else. Duh. It helped that while I was spinning I had someone who loves spinning fine yarns next to me, mocking offering suggestions.

My fist bit:

A variety of sizes in one tiny skein!

A variety of sizes in one tiny skein!

I was all over the place with size and twist, but there are some spots that I like. I tried again.

spin emb souza tencel 2nd try

Tencel – second spin

I like the size, and it’s much more even. In between laughing, Beth told me to use a much lighter take up and it worked great. It’s over twisted. The hand is a little wiry, but mostly the extra twist took away the shine (Beth again, between nearly snorting hot chocolate out of her nose).

Those are my first tries at thread. It doesn’t seem like much, but it has me excited. I’m even thinking about dyeing, but that’s for later.

My next steps are:

  • measuring different sizes of embroidery threads, especially non cotton ones.
  • choose a size to spin too
  • practice for consistency in size and twist for hand and shine.
  • practice with a wider variety of fibers
  • stitch with the samples!

Who has fine spinning, thread for stitching spinning or tencel spinning advice for me?

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5 Responses to Jillian’s Spinning: A New Spinning Obsession – Embroidery Thread

  1. Beth Smith says:

    I wasn’t mocking. I promise. I just like to smile in your direction.

  2. Jillian says:

    It was the pointing and laughing part that was the mocking

  3. Denny has done an lot of embroidery. says:

    here’s the thing with hand stitching. Embroidery is done with lots of different materials.
    When done with wool on cotton, wool, or linen fabric, it usually referred to as crewel work.
    Cotton thread is used in cross stitch, counted thread work, black work and drawn thread work. Silk used in Asian type of stitching. Rayon thread is used in Brazilian embroidery.
    Most threads for stitching are plyed so they can be un plyed for using different thickness for finer detail in stitching.
    Long wools may work better as there is a lot of drag and strain on the thread as it goes thru the fabric.
    A note on that last point. Explore hand stitching needles.
    Your yarn needs to match needle. The eye end of a needle needs to be slightly larger then the thread. This makes a bigger hole in the fabric for the thread to go thru, thus having less drag and wear and tear on your thread.
    This is important, your stitching journey will sail on smoother waters with this in mind.
    Match the thread with the correct needle. Tip for today.
    I got loads more to say…. But go explore. We’ll chat later. Oxoxo your Denny.

  4. Michael Cook says:

    I’ll admit first off, that my experience with making embroidery thread is limited, and very specific – I’m making reeled silk threads for Chinese-style needle painting work. However, along the path, I learned a lot about how to analyze the threads I wanted to replicate –

    I figured out that the best way to count twists per inch (in the plying, and again in the single) was to tape one end of a foot of the thread to the table, tape the other end to a small piece of card stock, and then put a pin through the center of the thread and work it from one end to the other, counting the number of times the card flips. Two flips is a full twist. I discovered that the conventional wisdom of “silk needs a lot of twist to shine” is actually just the opposite – the shiny threads have less twist.

    I finally did find a teacher who has studied in Souzhou, and she taught me several cool tricks – let me know if you are interested in that kind of embroidery, and I’ll be happy to share!

  5. Kate says:

    Have you done much embroidery with wool thread? I’ve found that I have to work with shorter lengths than when I use cotton or linen. 12″ is about the maximum for me, especially when stitching onto regular fabric (rather than needlepoint canvas or cross-stitch cloth).
    Best of luck to you!

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