Today, I’m going to ramble on about embroidery thread. Once in a while, I just have to. It’s like releasing a pressure valve. I have to talk about thread, because I love thread.
Those of you interested in 17th century embroidery, in embroidered caskets, and similar exquisite items in the needlework field are probably not new to Thistle Threads.
If you’ve scoured the internet for information about 17th century embroidery or making your own embroidered casket (i.e. decorative, intricate cabinet with drawers and little compartments), then you’ve probably run across Thistle Threads – or maybe you’ve even enrolled in their casket class.
The casket class – called the Cabinet of Curiosities – is a two-part course, a fascinating multi-year journey towards creating your own embroidered table-top cabinet that tells whatever story you want it to tell. It includes the history of the embroidered casket, techniques, materials, side journeys for small treasures for inside the cabinet, and all the information you need to be well-informed while you create your magnum opus – your own embroidery heirloom that should last centuries.
I’m not enrolled in the course. I think it’s an amazing adventure for those who can do it! That being said, it is beyond my reach in a number of ways. Still, I’m captivated by the whole notion of it, and I love seeing what the adventurous stitchers in the course are doing with their skills.
When Thistle Threads introduced the notion of a subscription box, though, that would feature specialty threads suitable not just for 17th century embroidery applications, but that could also be transformed equally well into contemporary embroidery, I swooned. I fell. I was happily sucked in.
And not in a bad way, mind you! We’re talking about embroidery thread, after all. And not just any embroidery thread. We’re talking about embroidery threads that are exquisite in quality, that have taken years and tears to bring about, and that are unique and not readily available (although some will apparently be coming to the general market – which is exciting news).
I had to get in on it. My first “justification” when I sprang for the club is that it helps my business to know what’s out there and what the buzz is about.
But if I’m honest with you and with myself, the fact is, I just wanted the threads. I knew they would be special. I knew they would be beautiful.
And I have a thread addiction. Obviously!
But, like I said, it was a business decision. Yes. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
I’m not disappointed with my decision. Not in the least! I was delighted with the first Frostings box. And, considering the types and amounts of threads and their quality, I knew right away that I am getting a good return for the investment.
But it was really the second of the two Frostings boxes that plunged me into Thread Euphoria.
I think the best and only effective way to explain to you my present state of threadful bliss is to show you what’s in the box.
If you are a member of the Frostings Club and you haven’t received your box yet or you’ve put off opening it, to savor it for a while, be aware that there are definitely spoilers ahead!
First of all, the boxes. Both installments of the club arrive in these adorable boxes. They fit right inside a US Priority Mailer, and, while reflecting the 17th century theme, they are decidedly modern. They’re a durable board box with a magnet closure on the wrap lid. They’re perfect for storing the club stuff, but if you ever deplete the club stuff, you’ll have a great little box for storing…well, anything that’ll fit!
I love boxes.
When you open the second Frostings box, this is what greets you.
Now, at this point, you’re pretty eager to rip into things and see what treasures await, but don’t be fooled by this innocuous piece of fabric. It’s actually a very nice wool felt, perfect for stumpwork embroidery. So don’t discard it as superfluous packaging material!
Ahhhhhhhh. The fun begins!
There are lots of little knick-knacky items, threads, braids in here – including some soutache braid, some silk chenille, some tiny strawberry stumpwork forms, and other little bonus materials.
These excite me. But not like what’s to come!
There are some real metal threads in the box, too, in particular a gilt and a silver flattened coil.
I’d describe this as a bullion that is slightly stretched and then slightly flattened. It’s not flat-flat. It’s more oval-flat. It’s a neat thread! Kind of like a slinky that’s been squished on its side, only it doesn’t slink back, because it’s a stiff wire.
As far as metal threads in the box go, though, it’s this bonus inclusion that grabbed me and shook me up!
That wee bit of bonus thread there – it’s got my goldwork-loving blood pumping up a storm.
I don’t know what the story is behind it. I don’t know if it will ever come to be, as a goldwork thread available to the general market. All I know is that I have two precious pieces – one in gilt, one in silver – and I adore it. Oh my. The possibilities! You should click on the photo above to see it enlarged.
See, it’s a totally flattened coil, that flattens into this perfectly even, lovely, flat, stiff metal thread that features side-by-side loops. Perfect for outlining! Perfect for tiny gold trim! Not at all the same as milliary wire (you can see what that is here, on Tanja Berlin’s website) – this is flatter, stiffer, cleaner.
It is gorgeous.
And you can bet that, if it’s not something that’s going to be made, i’m going to find myself a heavy metal rolling pin and try to make it myself from regular bullion. I just love it. Oh gosh.
So, that thread got me all churned up and excited.
But…wait… there’s much more!
There are some spools of silk gimp, which we’ve talked about before.
And there are a couple lovely spools of check thread, which is a goldwork thread that’s a little ripply. These particular check threads are much finer in size than any check thread I’ve worked with so far, so I’m a little tingly about those, too!
But all of that above… it’s great, but it’s not IT.
It’s not what took me to the Melting Point.
This is what took me to the Melting Point:
Oh, be still, my sorry-sorry-thread-infatuated heart!
First order of business: breathe.
Second order of business: touch.
Silk. A new silk. Silk Trame, it’s called. It’s made by Au Ver a Soie, the French silk manufacturer that produces Soie d’Alger, Soie Ovale, and many other Soies.
Trame is a flat filament silk. It has no twist. And it is about 1/8th the thickness of Soie Ovale (also a flat filament silk, although it does just the barest hint of a twist to it). I’ve done a bit of work with Soie Ovale – you can see it at work in this piece, in particular.
The exciting thing about the Silk Trame is that it is so very fine, and it coordinates with the other Au Ver a Soie silks. So, a gap is filled! Here’s an teeny tiny flat filament silk, that can be used for all kinds of detail work (think eyes in figure embroidery!), but that can also be doubled or tripled in the needle for a slightly heavier effect, though not as heavy as Soie Ovale.
I Am Thrilled About This Thread!
In fact, I can’t think of anything else to say about it. I reached the height of thread nirvana when I realized what I was handling. I was even a little shaky, I was so excited. But don’t tell anyone. People might think I’m a bit thread-weird.
I’m not sure why thread does that to me!
In any case, that’s the Frostings Club, and it has me all excited, thinking about possibilities for future projects!
If you want to get in on these specialty threads, you can still do it. I think there are a few more boxes still available. It’s true, it isn’t cheap. But it shouldn’t be. This is quality stuff, exclusively made in very small batches. You get a good quantity of special threads in each box, and a wide range of thread types to experiment with and to incorporate into your own masterpiece.
You can find more information on the Frostings Club here. Keep in mind, this is the second box of the club – the first box contained a whole slew of gorgeous silk and metal threads and little stitchy knick-knacks, too.
The first session of the Frostings Club (it includes two boxes) is apparently going to be followed by another session, and those who are already in session one have first access to session two.
I’m already saving my pennies for session two! Can’t wait!