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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A Gift from Portugal!


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I must reiterate everything I said the other day about the generosity of needleworkers! Yesterday, I was thrilled and speechless when I emptied my mailbox. There, inside, was a package all the way from Portugal, from Méri, of Agulhas da Méri fame. Inside the package – some gorgeous threads and a piece of Portuguese linen, woven at the textile mills of northern Portugal.

I just have to show you pictures of this thread and the fabric. Pictures won’t do the linen justice, or the threads, for that matter.

Beautiful Needlework Supplies from Portugal

First, the threads. There are two kinds of silk here – one is still on the market and available in Portugal.

Beautiful Needlework Supplies from Portugal

It comes in very long skeins, and the thread is beautiful – it’s a fine twisted silk, non-divisible. The sheen is hard to capture in a picture…

Beautiful Needlework Supplies from Portugal

…but a close up serves to show the nice twist in the thread.

I can’t wait to give these threads a try! I haven’t seen anything like them here in the States. Buttonhole silk is usually a bit fatter and more tightly twisted. And stranded silk doesn’t have this kind of sheen.

Beautiful Needlework Supplies from Portugal

Now, these other threads have captivated me! This is a soft, thick, luxurious silk, no longer sold, and Méri estimates that these skeins are from the beginning of the 1900’s, as they were passed down through family. They are typical of the embroidery from Castelo Branco in Portugal. They are unbelievable threads!

Beautiful Needlework Supplies from Portugal

You can see that the thread has a very soft twist to it. Each strand is rather thick – I’d say at least as thick as a #3 pearl cotton, though not twisted tightly like pearl cotton.

Beautiful Needlework Supplies from Portugal

To explain the sheen – and even to photograph it well (for me, anyway!) is almost impossible. How can I get across the idea of the sumptuous “fire” of these threads? They’re incredible! I would imagine that they will make beautiful satin stitching, if worked in short lengths. I’m eager as well to try them with long and short stitch and with stem stitch.

Beautiful Needlework Supplies from Portugal

And finally, the linen – a beautiful, durable, medium-weight linen with a nice hand, and a good, practically even weave. It looks like it will be a perfect linen for drawn thread work. I also think it would be perfect for crewel work or Jacobean embroidery in wools. It’s really nice stuff! Méri said this linen is sold as what we call “seconds” – that is, not suitable for shops or exports, but still available at the source. She buys it by weight. I can’t imagine that this is “second quality” linen. It’s pretty nice!

Méri, how can I thank you for the wonderful package?! I’ll try to do the supplies justice! Thank you so much for your generous gift!


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(11) Comments

  1. Wow now THAT’s a package! 😀 The threads look very similar to ones I received from India. I would say that that blows my package out of the water.

    Kudos to you and so very thoughtful of her to give silk handed down from mum to daughter, or dad to son whichever is the case. I expect that none of these will go into a giveaway, just too nice to pass on. I would totally Bogart the threads or myself.

    I look forward to any projects that you apply these wonderful items to. I will tell you that if these threads are like the Indian threads I have, you must have well moisturized hands, they will snag on the slightest hangnail. Plus they are very delicate I have to use very short lengths. Congrats on the great gift. I am so jealous.

  2. I think you’d be surprised at the shimmer and shine I’m seeing on my computer screen from these threads. They’re coming across beautifully!! Have fun with them (can’t wait for a report about what you do).

  3. Wow Mary! I am positively drooling over those threads…they look very shimmery (is that a word, lol?) I look at them and see a Spanish or Mexican sampler stitched with lovely satin stitches. I can`t wait to see what you do with them…

  4. Yes, those threads look very shiny to me!

    Meri, You’re going to have to confess your source of Portuguese linen, please! I want to know! I loved my visit to Portugal last year – so much wonderful embroidery!


  5. Hi Mary, I am just waiting to see what you do with your lovely gift.

    Meri it is just so incredibly generous of you to send Mary something which is a handed down through your family.

  6. The threads appear to be excessively shiny rather than satin-shine. Are they as shiny as they appear?-almost look like (rayon)! but you said something about it looking “fiery?” What will you make?
    Suggestions: Kimono designs/Oriental patterns. Why do you think small stitches are appropriate for this type of thread? Tell us what you have in mind after you decide.

  7. I have to say, we are supposed to be bigger than this but ‘ditto the slobber; and to quote Scarlett (my most self-indulgent heroine), “I am pea green with envy”. Can’t wait to see what fabulous thing you do with them.

  8. Jacobean crewel embroidery is traditionally done on linen twill, a weave which shows a diagonal all over the fabric.

  9. I know this is a very old post, but am hoping this message will be read! Does anyone know where this Portuguese silk thread is available to buy? TIA!

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