Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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New Thread Coming: Gilt Sylke Twist


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If you’re following what’s going on at The Embroiderers’ Story of Plimoth Plantation, you’ll see there’s a new thread that’s apparently going to be released to the public market some time soon. The thread is called Gilt Sylke Twist, and it looks positively gorgeous! There are a couple things I like about the idea of this thread…

First of all, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a thread “junkie.” I love the various threads used in embroidery – from the common DMC stranded to the flat silks of Japanese embroidery, from wools to synthetics, you name it, I like it. Ok, I’m not as keen on synthetics like rayon, but … I do like them. In fact, if I were to nail down what I like best about embroidery – whether design, or process, or materials in their various forms – I’d say without hesitation, “I like the thread!”

This gilt sylke twist that they’ve been developing for the embroidered jacket over at Plimoth Plantation excites me because:

1. There’s nothing more beautiful, in my opinion, than silk and gold combined.
2. The colors so far (there are eight “limited edition” colors to start with) are fantastic.
3. It seems to me that the thread will be usable in all kinds of applications, some perhaps not even thought of yet. Off the bat, besides the detached surface embroidery for which it was developed, I suspect it would work well for needlepoint, for couching techniques, for fine crocheted lace (they’ve already mentioned that one), for tassel-making and trims… and on and on.

I suspect that it’s probably not suited to regular surface embroidery, unless great care were taken in passing through the fabric – making sure the needle holes correspond with the size of thread so that the gold doesn’t get stuck up in passing. Since I haven’t stitched with it, I have no idea, though, if it would work well in regular surface techniques. If it would, could you imagine the beautiful results you’d get in something like satin stitch?

The base silk for the Gilt Sylke Twist is Au Ver a Soie’s Soie Ovale, which is an absolute favorite silk of mine. I’ve been writing about it practically ever since I started this website. It’s a rich silk thread, mostly flat, with good body, wonderful sheen, and a nice (but limited) range of colors.

Anyway, I had to write about it, simply because I’m really excited about it! I’m eager to see when it will be released to the public and how.

I’d love to hear from others who have stitched with the thread – what are your impressions, what kind of techniques will it be suited to, etc.

And in the meantime, thanks, Plimoth Plantation, for all the incredible work you all are doing!!


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(9) Comments

  1. I was at Plimoth Plantation in August and used the carnation pink thread to make 2 strawberries on the left underarm of the jacket (I also did lots of leaves). It was great to be able to work with the thread and hear Tricia tell the story she has been writing on the blog. The main thing is to use shorter lengths of thread than you normally would stitch with, otherwise the gold breaks. The thread is quite fine, so if you have a needle of the correct size, it isn’t too bad on the thread, the break occurs where the gold bends on the eye of the needle. I think you could do satin stitch with it, but you would waste alot on the back of your work. But it was easier to work with than horse hair (which I’ve done recently).
    I plan on getting at least one spool of every colour as soon as they make it available, and maybe 2 spools of the darker colours since those are the most spectacular looking.

  2. Thanks for the news, Margaret! Now I’m even more excited about the thread. I wonder if a hand-made needle would help with breakage? I know it helps with Japanese embroidery when working with gold-wrapped threads.

    It’s funny how deceiving pictures can be – the thread looks like it might be the size of the Soie Perlee or of Trebizond, but then I remember how fine Soie Ovale actually is when you stitch with it (it looks thicker unstitched than it actually is, stitched, once tension is put on it) – and I guess the gilt sylke twist must be that fine.

    Well, thank you again – I can’t wait to see the stuff!

  3. I know how much you’ve been looking forward to this thread, Mary! Yay!

    I was reading, somewhere in the Embroiderer’s Story (the Plymouth blog) re the thread breaking, (aha! a quick search on “burr”) that

    “? Almost all the breaks happened at the needle eye and not where the thread was pulling tight at the stitch.

    At the time the jacket was made, there were needles made with bored holes (round or egg-shaped eye). Bored needle eyes are smooth inside.

    You can still get this type of needle from the Japanese Embroidery Center in Georgia.

    I use them for goldwork as they make the gold go through the linen so easily. But they are expensive as they are handmade and rare. “

    this is quoted from Tricia, at

  4. As you know Mary, I am a student of Japanese Embroidery and have a supply of hand made needles. I will use them with this thread (which I can’t wait to get my hands on).

    I heard once that hand made needles are rare because fewer people are making them, because fewer people are buying them.

    Perhaps we should keep telling everyone how wonderful these needles are so that they will buy them and hopefully revive this dying industry.


  5. Hi Mary, your’s is such an informative site and your stitching is exquisite, for that I have tagged you for the You Make My Day Award.


  6. Good idea!!

    I had a hand-made needle years ago, but lost it! I haven’t replaced it yet, but I was just looking at them online at the JEC the other day. I think one of the reasons people don’t opt for them is the cost. For people who lose needles, that’s a hefty investment. But now when I have a “favorite” needle, I am very careful with it and don’t lose it – I learned a good lesson!

    I plan to invest in a couple sizes to use for goldwork. With the growing interest in Japanese embroidery, I hope there will be an increase in demand for them, and the industry will revive.

    Once I get mine, I’ll write up a little review and take some photos, so people can see them up close in action.

    Thanks, CA!

  7. Oh, sheesh. This looks awful!! CA’s first comment (on the make my day award) showed up looooong after her second comment, so I just want to clarify –

    The “good idea” is in reference to the needle in the second post!!

    Thanks, Carol-Anne, for your tag! I need to get back to this – in fact, I hope to today!

  8. I’ve been to Plimoth three times and worked with the GST two of those visits. It is really fun to work with. Due to the silk wrapping, it doesn’t fluff like the soie perle does, so is easier to see the individual stitches and also it is less likely to knot on the back. It does have the tendancy of the gold wire to break off at the needle eye after many passes, so you just need to scoot your needle up the thread periodically. But it does look fabulous in the reverse chain, as well as the detached buttonhole.

    I’ve only seen and dabbled with one of the lovely hand made Japanese style needles for working with gold, and while the feel was lovely, the gauge was off for this project. Of course they probably come in a variety of sizes, so pardon my ignorance if they do.

    I’ve got some pictures up on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenthies/sets/72157600455293915) and accounts of my experiences at Plimoth Plantation up on my blog: http://pinkleader.livejournal.com/tag/plimoth

    Short answer, this thread is a joy to work with and I can’t wait to have at least a spool of every color.


  9. Thanks, Jen, for all the information and the links to your beautiful photo collection of the progress on the jacket!! I hope everyone takes a look at the pictures! They’re great!!

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