Flat silk is filament silk that has no (or very little) twist to it. It has an incredible sheen and, when it’s a good flat silk, it’s one of the most luxurious of hand embroidery threads. Flat silk is used in different types of hand embroidery – for example, I used flat silk as a background for my Medallion Project.
If you’re not sure what flat silk is, and if you’d like to read a little more about flat silk and what it is, you’re welcome to read these two articles comparing flat silks, which I wrote a long time ago:
Flat silk is probably probably best known for its use in Japanese embroidery. Flat silk used in Japanese embroidery is fairly recognizable – it comes on cardboard tubes in a beautiful range of colors!
One of the most interesting things to me about flat silk is that it can be used as twisted silk as well. In Japanese embroidery, it is common to twist the flat silk and stitch with it, but it takes a certain knack to be able to do this, and a lot of practice!
Over the last several years, I’ve kept up a pretty steady communication with Anne Gomes. She’s a reader in North Carolina who has trained in Japanese embroidery, and she also does quite a bit of ecclesiastical embroidery.
For example, she embroidered this Pentecost stole.
And she also embroidered this modern icon of the Good Shepherd, incorporating some Japanese embroidery techniques.
Well, over the years, Anne has suggested off and on that I really need to try twisting my own flat silk, to use in my embroidery projects. I agree with her! This is something I would like to do… but I’ve never quite gotten the technique down. I’ve often twisted my own cording out of floss, to use for finishing, and I’ve even braided my own cording, Kumihimo-style. But I haven’t yet twisted my own flat silk and actually stitched with it!
So, to help me overcome my inhibitions about twisting flat silk, Anne and her friend Esther collaborated to make a video on twisting Japanese silk, so I could see the method. Needless to say, I was thrilled to the core! Anne also said I was welcome to share the video with you all, and so here it is:
While you can’t see the thread up close in the video, Anne not only shows the whole technique of twisting flat silk, but she also gives a lot of how-and-why information, which is very helpful. If you’ve ever wondered how they twist flat silk in Japanese embroidery, the video will show you how it’s done, and put you on the road to trying it for yourself! Thank you, Anne!
I’m going to play with this over the weekend a little bit, to see what results I can come up with, and then I’ll share them with you. If for no other reason, I have to try this technique because I’ve never been told to lick my hand before working with thread. It is an opportunity to good to pass up.
Speaking of Japanese embroidery and videos, Anne also did some digging and came up with another Japanese embroidery video which I found really interesting. You don’t often see the techniques of Japanese embroidery, framing up, and so forth, presented in video form, so if you’re interested, take a look at it! I especially like watching the ease with which the frame is set up.
It’s always a pleasure to watch a master at work, isn’t it?
Other News – an Interview
On a slightly different note, Trish Burr very graciously interviewed me last week, and the results are now on her blog. Grab a cup of tea, and join me for a chat with Trish, if you like! Thanks for that, Trish! Very kind of you!
Will you get in any good stitching time this weekend? You know what I’ll be doing, stitch-wise: focusing on the Medallion! But I’ll also be working up a few little bits and snatches for the website for next week – some Stitch Play coming up, as well as a bit of Thread Talk (for those of you who happen to like embroidery thread!).
Hope your weekend is just swell!