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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House of Embroidery Threads


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Today, some thread talk!

You might remember that a while back, I reviewed this dragon embroidery kit from Roseworks Embroidery Designs in South Africa.

Used throughout the design (and in many other Roseworks kits) are threads from House of Embroidery, a dye house also located in South Africa.

The review prompted a slew of inquiries about finding House of Embroidery threads in the US.

So I put on my Needle ‘n Thread Hat, did some research, made some connections, tested some threads (gosh, it’s a tough job!), took lots of photos, begged for some favors, arranged a terrific thread deal for you (update 2017: the deal has expired – sorry!) – and today’s article is the result of all that “hard work.”

Oh, the things I do for you! Like I said, it’s a tough job…chortle chortle.

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

Before launching into the nitty-gritty, some big Thanks all around! First, to those of you who forced me to hit the pavement and track down the threads. Without your prompting, I probably wouldn’t have, and then where would we be?

Thanks to the folks at House of Embroidery for putting me in touch with Richard at Global Artisans (formerly Akonye Kena), the US distributor of House of Embroidery threads. (They’ve extended a discount to Needle ‘n Thread readers for thread purchases – more information on that below!)

Thanks to Richard for sending along some gorgeous thread collections, so that I could play with the threads and stitch up a sample or two (or three…), and for working out a really good deal for Needle ‘n Thread readers who want to try the threads, too. (More on that, below.)

And thanks to Margaret Cobleigh, who has graciously allowed me to use some photos of her recent work with House of Embroidery threads. We’ve been chatting about the threads back and forth for a while. She recently delved into explorations in needlepainting with them, and I couldn’t resist begging her to let me publish the photos for you to see, too – for obvious reasons! She has magic in her needle.

House of Embroidery Threads

When it comes to choosing colors for embroidery projects that I design myself, I have a hard time narrowing down color choices. Lately, I’ve been working with designs that I want to work in color “themes” – that is, in colors that suggest something particular.

You might remember that I showed you this collection of thread colors a while back, and asked you what comes to mind when you see them. I was hoping that you would say “sunset” – and many of you did say that.

It took me hours to put together those colors.

What first piqued my interest, then, when researching House of Embroidery threads was the fact that they offer their lines of embroidery threads in different ways…

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

…and one of those ways is in themed color collections. I love this idea!

The six-stranded floss collection above, with five meters of floss wound on 16 card bobbins, is called “Seven Seas.”

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

Here’s the “Sahara” collection…

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

…and here you have the fiery and brilliant sunset collection!

There are collections for the seasons (spring, summer, autumn, and winter), and other themed collections like Sahara, Seven Seas, Vintage, Primitive, and Sunset.

The name of each collection evokes certain color associations, and there, within the collection, you have a wonderful array of colors that reflect the collection’s name.

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

The threads are available outside of specific color collections, too.

They’re sold in larger collections – floss boxes and the complete range – and they’re also available in looped put-ups, like those in the photo above, with two (or more, depending on the type of thread) associated colors per card.

Additionally, for those doing a lot of embroidery, the threads can be special ordered in large hanks.

House of Embroidery Cottons

Besides 6-stranded cotton floss, the House of Embroidery cotton threads also include a line-up of matching perle cottons in sizes 5, 8, and 12.

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

This is great news for folks who like to combine different textured threads in their embroidery! The various perle cottons are available in the same color collections and colorways.

Other House of Embroidery Threads and Ribbons

Besides cotton, House of Embroidery also dyes silks, silk ribbon, and viscose threads.

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

The colors of the threads and ribbons all coordinate across the various types of threads. Above, you can see their “Vintage Collection” of silk ribbon, which comes in 2mm, 4mm, and 7mm wide.

I haven’t tried House of Embroidery silks yet, or their viscose threads. Their silk floss is not stocked normally in the US at Akonye Kena, because, up until now, their focus market was quilting, where perle cottons are often star of the show.

Stitching with House of Embroidery Threads

The threads I really like so far for hand embroidery are the stranded cotton and the #12 perle cotton. The colors are fantastic, and the threads work well together.

I’ve dabbled a bit with the #8 perle as well, which is a terrific thread for adding a heavier texture to your embroidery.

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

In the project above, I mixed together just four colors out of the Autumn Collection: the brilliant red-oranges and one of the yellow-golds, as well as the deep brown and one of the green-browns. I used three strands of floss for the stitching (stem stitch and fishbone stitch), and I mixed the strands to provide a little more depth of shading in the color changes.

I really like the way the colors worked together to produce exactly what I had in mind for this leafy autumn piece!

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

Margaret Cobleigh has taken the House of Embroidery stranded cotton in a different direction with her embroidery, pictured above and below.

She used the House of Embroidery threads for needlepainting, and the effect is really stunning!

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

Close-up, you can see how the colors blend beautifully together.

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

Above, the threads are used the smaller leaves in the photo.

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

Another stitched example using House of Embroidery threads is this “Herbier” design from Canevas Folies, which is available through French Needle here in the US.

French Needle supplies the House of Embroidery threads with the Canevas Folies kits available on their site, so that all you have to supply are the regular DMC threads that are used in the design. The Canevas Folies kits are a great way to try out HoE threads, too!

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

Here’s another close-up on some of the elements from the “Herbier” design, which Margaret re-worked a bit with her own color placement and choices.

House of Embroidery Threads for hand embroidery

And my favorite! I love the color combinations in these flowers! They’re Summer, through and through!

Try ‘Em!

If you try House of Embroidery threads, I think you’re going to love them! The colors are fantastic, and they are pretty much consistent across dye lots. That’s an amazing thing, when talking about variegated, over-dyed, and blended thread colors.

The only thing I find different about the threads – as far as the stranded cotton is concerned – is that they feel slightly “dryer” than DMC. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve discovered over the years that the dyeing process changes the feel of thread, and not all thread feels the same. It still stitches up beautifully!

Needle ‘n Thread Discount

Global Artisans has extended the following discounts for Needle ‘n Thread readers:

A 10% discount on their whole order, using this coupon code at checkout: MARY2018

And, if you live in the US, you can enjoy free shipping on your order, too, with the coupon code SHIPPING applied at checkout.

You can find all the collections of House of Embroidery threads through Global Artisans in the US here.


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(34) Comments

  1. Just love using House of embroidery threads. Esp loose French knots stitched close makes for lovely tree tops and also for woven leaves.

  2. Well, hopefully some of you will read this!

    It looks like the website for Akonye Kena may have crashed due to traffic. I’m sure they will fix it as fast as they can. So if that last link is not working for you, do check back later in the day! I’ve contacted them to let them know. The link is directed to the right place – I think their website server just couldn’t handle the traffic. Check back!!

    1. Wow … that’s all I can say is WOW. The traffic has been amazing and crashed the site.

      I’ve been on the phone with the hosting company, and we think we have everything fixed. If anyone continues to experience problems – please email me @ info@akonyekena.com.

      All I can say is THANK YOU.

  3. Mary, I am so glad you’ve reviewed the House of Emroidery threads! They so deserve to be more widely known. Their threads are superb and I love stitching with them and stocking them. Especially their perle and their ribbons. Good to know for all European readers: they are more widely available on our side of the pond.

  4. Dear Mary

    There certainly is a great colour range and a wide array of colours from House of Embroidery and the needle painting projects by Margaret Cobleigh are beautiful such lovely detail and such a lovely idea that you negotiated a discount with House of Embroidery it makes all the difference in purchasing the threads. I will have to take a look at their range as one of my future projects is a Poppy flower for my Sisters 70th Birthday and I’m thinking of deep reds to lighter reds so House of Embroidery with the variegated colour range might be the threads I need for my project. Thank you so much for your input in reducing the price of these threads and for sharing the beautiful needle painting by Margaret Cobleigh and for sharing with us the details of the House of Embroidery.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. My goodness, I’m so in love with the Sunset and Seven Seas collection color schemes. Plus, I want to give you a huge THANK YOU for negociating awesome international shipping prices. It’s so rare, and the one thing I needed to justify buying a collection for myself as a Christmas gift even though I have no precise project in head.

    I have ten days to decide in which collection I will indulge, and drool over all the gorgeous colors! Thank you again Mary!

    1. I did it! I ordered the Seven Seas stranded collection as a Christmas gift to myself and I just couldn’t be more excited! I already have many projects planned to use up all this gorgeous thread: embroidering the back of my latest quilt with pretty monograms (I plan on using your Celtic knots alphabet), sea-life pillows embroidered using some Johanna Basford designs, and a drawstring bag with your Kaléidoscope design as a gift for my grandma, I think. Oh, the winter holidays are going to be grand!

      Thank you for offering me this wonderful opportunity!

  6. …and you throw this at me just after I finally got four months of back pay!? 😮 I wonder how much shipping to the UK is likely to be. (Not to mention possible taxes once it gets here.)

    Ah, found the shipping prices – actually very reasonable. Argh, even more fuel on the temptation fire!

  7. Hi Mary,

    I love the colors in the House of Embroidery threads. I bought several sets of the perle cotton 12 at a quilt show and they are like candy! Silky smooth and stitch up so wonderfully. I tried the floss a few years ago that was included in the Breath of Spring kit that I was so thrilled to win from you. The colors are unmatched but the “dry” feel was hard to get used to. It is very different from DMC. I will try them again since you wrote this wonderful review. Maybe you can convince Richard to start using DMC floss to dye because their colors can’t be beat. The perle cotton is excellent quality and the variegated colors are so unexpectedly placed. My favorite is 68 B. Muted golden, to straw gold, a flaxen grey and then a muted lavender. Excellent for Autumn grass fields.

  8. Thank you for your “hard” work and for making it available to us!!! I’ve taken the plunge and start my first needle painting this week. The needle painting samples shown here are so beautiful!!! Thank you for having negotiated the deal!

  9. Hugs! (And a little bit of crying…) I’m so grateful! With the contests, only one person wins (or two or three, whatever), but everyone wins with this! Even the kindly manufacturer! (Thank you so much, kind manufacturer!) I needlepaint, as well, and it is just (here I start to cry a little bit again) so hard sometimes to put the colors together and you realize that you need (random example, I don’t even know if these numbers correspond to actual colors) number 721 instead of the 720 and 722 that you already have. But…. sets! SETS! (sob) Yeah, so, I sorta stayed awake until past five this morning. Needlepainting. I get a little weepy when I’m exhausted. Also, I wouldn’t be able to afford this thread if there were no discount, so. I am just so grateful and weepy! Hugs!!!

  10. Thank you for all your work in bringing us this offer. I have used the threads only in the Canevas folie kits, and am happy to have this opportunity.
    And to Margaret Cobleigh: your work is beyond beautiful!

  11. Thanks for reviewing House of Embroidery products Mary. They make wonderful threads & buttons! I’ve been using the #8 perle for years & the adorable ceramic buttons are great for CQ or knitted projects.

  12. Mary, I have a question, not about these threads, but about Anchor Marlitt floss, which is viscose. I am working a project called “The Convent’s Herbal Garden Mandala” by Chatelaine Designs. It’s a mixture of counted x-stitch, surface embroidery, and blackwork. I’ve reached the outermost layer of the Mandala, which involves stitching the outer gates of the garden using the Anchor Marlitt floss. All the rest is stitched in Rainbow silks, which are 6 stranded, but the Marlitt only has 4 strands, and when I separate them, they are very kinky and difficult to work with. Each strand is also very thick by comparison to the Rainbow silk flosses, so I don’t know if I’m meant to use one or two strands; there’s no indication in the instructions as to what to do. I’ve been using two but when I thread my needle and start to stitch, the strands don’t stay together as I pull them in and out but separate on each stitch, which is irritating and also leads to more instances of uneven tension and weird sticky-uppy loops. It makes me wonder if I should only be using one strand. Do you have any suggestions on how to unkink the floss to make it easier to use, and whether, based on the thickness of each strand, whether I should use one or two? I tried contacting the designer at her email address earlier in my stitching voyage to ask another question about what colour I was meant to use, which wasn’t listed, but I got no response. I would be grateful for any direction you can provide. Thanks.

    1. Hi, Sarah – what stitch are you doing with the Anchor? It’s too bad there’s no indication of how many strands to use. You can probably tame it a little bit by running it through Thread Heaven, or maybe even by steaming it (I usually just hold kinky floss that needs taming over the steam hole on my tea kettle, and pull it back and forth through the steam a few times, and then smooth it out). That being said, if you’re only supposed to be using one strand, it’ll be easier to control. If the stitch you’re doing is split stitch or stem stitch or something like that – even satin stitch, really – after you pull the thread through to the back at the end of making a stitch, keep tension on the thread until you bring the needle and thread to the front again. This will help lock the thread in place with the new stitch. It works best with split stitches, because it holds them tight to the surface of the fabric until you bring the needle up from underneath to split it. But it will also help with other stitches – just keep the thread pulled on the back to keep the first stitch tensioned and in place, until you come up again to the front. Hope that helps a little bit!

    2. Hi Mary. Thanks for this. I am doing x-stitch with the Anchor but not covering vast swathes of fabric; it’s just the outline of the gate. I have been trying Thread Heaven so now I will try the steam kettle route.

    1. Hi, Mark – Thanks! In the pansy photo, I suppose it could be linen or cotton – I’ll have to ask her. I’m pretty sure it’s cotton, though, like the cotton found in the old Anchor stamped embroidery tablecloth kits, or even in some of the Permin kits that you might find available today. In the photos with the natural colored fabric (kind of oaty colored), that’s linen.

    2. Mark, the pansy is a motif on a table runner by Duftin. The fabric is cotton. I don’t know if it’s available for purchase outside of kits. I’ve stitched on it several times as the ground fabric for table linen kits (primarily of European origin). Honestly, it’s a tricky fabric for surface embroidery as it is a fairly open weave. It’s a challenge to achieve smooth edges.

      The fabric for ‘Herbier’ is linen and was provided with the kit.

  13. Gee thanks Mary – my eyes are green again. I have been SO good and not purchased any embroidery supplies for ages but I’m oh so sorely tempted. As I said, thanks!!

  14. Hi Mary,
    Do we go on your website to order as a newsletter devotee? Or is there a code we out in? I have the time, finally, today/tomorrow to make an order. Received my Inspirations “A Passion for Needlework” on Friday( Book Depository).?

    Incredible! Love to you!
    My best, Margaret

  15. I have used HoE threads quite a bit in the past when I could easily get them. We have now moved to a small country town and thread-buying has become very much an on-line activity. I took advantage of the Akonye Kena discount and bought some blue and green threads for the dragon. I think he/she is a very charming dragon and I love them all.

  16. We are a group of embroiderers in Hilton KZN. Our local shop does not any more stock House of embroidery chameleon threads. Can you tell me how much they cost and must we buy a group of 3 colours on a hnak. We would prefer just a single colour. 27m No 8. Can we order direct from you or is there a stockist say in the Durban area ?
    Thank you
    Margaret Lake

    1. Hi, Margaret – I’m in the US. You could probably order directly from House of Embroidery in South Africa. It would probably take a while to get to you. Another option, if you want to order from the US (shipping might be faster) is Akonye Kena. They distribute for HOE in the US: https://www.akonyekena.com

  17. Hi Mary, I know this is an old post, but I just happened upon it for the first time and wondered: is there a pattern available for the autumn leaves/vines piece pictured in the middle of this post? It’s just beautiful!

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