Gumnut Yarns makes a thread called Poppies, which is a wool / silk blend, and I had the occasion to use the thread while I was working on the crewel smalls from Tristan Brooks Designs. I liked the thread a lot! I knew Gumnut Yarns came in a range of thread types, but I wasn’t familiar with them, so I dropped the company a line, and was able to procure through their US distributor, Custom House of Needlearts, a sample skein of each type of embroidery thread they produce. So let’s look at the threads up close…
I haven’t had a chance to stitch with any of the Gumnut Yarns threads, aside from Poppies, and although I know the true test of an embroidery thread is how well it stitches, I also tend to judge threads by their look and feel when they’re skeined up. Don’t you? If you walk into your local needlework shop and pick up a thread you’re unfamiliar with, and it doesn’t pass your first scrutiny, do you buy it? I don’t, usually. The only exception would be when a thread has had such rave reviews that I have to try it out myself, regardless of what it may look like to me when I first encounter it in a shop.
So the first thing I do whenever I examine a thread for hand embroidery is look at it and feel it. I examine the structure of the thread, including the twist, the feel of the thread between my fingers, the weight of the skein, and generally the end of the thread, if I can find a loose end.
While it’s kind of hard to do the “feel” test when viewing a thread online, the visual says a lot, so here are Gumnut Yarns embroidery threads, close up.
Presently, Gumnut produces six types of thread. From left to right in the photo above they are: Tulips, which is mohair; Blossoms, which is crewel wool; Daisies, which is a fine wool (suitable for crewel as well – finer than Blossoms); Poppies, a 50/50 silk/wool blend; Buds, a perle silk; and Stars, a stranded silk. At one time, Gumnut also produced variegated shades of many of the above threads, but these have been discontinued.
Blossoms and Daisies are 100% wool crewel threads. Blossoms is the larger of the two, while Daisies is a fine weight crewel wool.
You can see the the Blossoms on the left is a fatter looking thread compared to the Daisies on the right. They are both nice wool threads – soft, not scratchy – with the characteristics of wool: a slight sheen or “sparkle” from the wool fibers, a bit of stretchy “boing” that seems to go along with most crewel wools, and the little curly, hairy shards that fluff out from the twist – kind of like the “nap” of the thread. Both are threads that feel nice – they aren’t dry and scratchy, they have a bit of body and some weight, but aren’t heavy.
Tulips is the mohair thread, suitable for crewel work as well. Mohair is different from wool – it is made from Angora goat’s hair – and it is not as curly as wool, so you can see in the close-up that the fibers that stick out from the actual thread are longer and straighter. It’s a soft thread and feels very nice when pulled through the fingers. The twist on the mohair thread is a bit looser and longer than the twist on the wools.
You can get kind of a sense of the difference between the mohair and the wools here – the mohair, again, has a longer twist, and it also has more of a sheen to it than the wool threads do.
Poppies is the 50/50 wool/silk blend from Gumnut Yarns. It’s on the left in the photo above, next to Daisies, the fine wool. Right off the bat, you can see a noticeable difference: Poppies has a closer, more discernible twist, and it has much more sheen to it. It also does not sport the same amount of fuzzy sprays that come off the wool.
This photo illustrates the sheen a bit better. You can also tell that the Poppies on the left is not as springy – it’s definitely a smoother looking thread, thanks to the silk content.
And finally, the silk: the blue is Buds, a perle silk, about the size, I’d say, of a #8 cotton perle (but much softer). The green is Stars, and it is a stranded silk, grouped in six strands which can be used individually for fine embroidery. I really like the look of both of these threads and am eager to stitch with them. (What can I say? I’m a bit of a sucker for silk!). The twist on the Stars individual strands looks very nice and tiny, a little tight, but not too tight. It looks like it would make a nice thread for needlepainting.
If you’d like to read more about these threads, visit the Gumnut Yarns website. You can view the shades available for each kind of thread (lots of beautiful shades!) and read more about each individual thread. They also have a gallery that’s worth looking at (check out Maggie the Cat!). You can also find out who stocks the threads in various countries.
I plan to stitch a bit with each of the threads as soon as I have the opportunity, so I’ll probably have more to say about them then! So far, I like what I see!
Speaking of threads, make sure you tune in on Monday – I’m giving away a wonderful collection of Renaissance Dyeing wool threads (the whole Elizabethan range!) So don’t miss that!
Have a terrific weekend!