Silk Threads

Jeanmarie Brucia 2004

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Silk threads can be fun to work with. Depending on the thread, the resulting embroidery can be exquisite. This short article contrasts what is commonly called "Buttonhole Twist", which is often used in CQ stitching, with "silk perle", and "silk gobelins", by the French company, Au Ver a Soie. (Pronounced O-vare-uh-swa)

First, let us consider some interesting facts to know about silk. Silk is a protein fiber, made from a worm's spit. Gross, I know! Relax, though, it's been washed several times before becoming thread.

The highest-quality silk thread is unreeled from cocoons as hundreds-of-yards-long filaments, which are washed, and combined with other filaments to form the highest-luster, finest-quality silk threads and fabrics available today. Shorter bits and pieces of silk filaments, which are left adhering to the cocoon, are brushed off the cocoons and spun, similar to how cotton and wool are spun, into threads. These are much less expensive and less lustrous than filament threads.

The red thread in the stitched sample is YLI's "buttonhole twist". It is highly lustrous and made of 3 plies of tightly twisted filaments.

The light blue thread in the stitched sample is Au Ver a Soie's "soie perle" (pronounced "swa-perlay"). This is also highly lustrous and twisted 3-ply filament silk, and is a bit thicker than YLI's buttonhole twist due to a looser twist.

The purple thread in the stitched sample is Au Ver a Soie's "Soie Gobelins", (pronounced swa-go-ball-in"). This is made of 2-plies of tightly twisted filament silk. This is much finer than buttonhole twist or perle, as you can see in the example.

Au Ver a Soie also makes another twisted silk called "100/3" (not pictured here), which is less expensive because it is spun into thread, first. Then three plies are twisted together to form this thread, which is less lustrous than Soie Perle or Soie Gobelins, but it is another great option for CQ!


Jeanmarie Brucia is the owner of Jenny June Fancy Work, online embroidery supplies shop.

"The World is in need of Beauty; embroider!"

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