About This Blog

My current research obsession is centered around purses and pouches from the European Middle Ages, and the accompanying hardware and passementerie. It is my hope to not only study extant items but also learn via reconstructive experiments; these will be limited for the most part to the textile components, however in the future I hope to explore the production of the metal frames.

12 December 2008

A question for all you embroiderers

I've only recently started using silk for my projects. I began buying silk floss from Kreinik (their Silk Mori), in part because it was available (in very limited amounts) in some local craft stores, and later because it was simple to order online. Aside from relative ease of acquisition, their colors seem to be consistent*, meaning that if I ever ran out of a color, I could just order more and not worry about later skeins being slightly "off".

I'm not ready for the jump yet, but I've been thinking about the future of my embroidery. That is, not using your typical (and obviously modern) spun/plied silk. As an example, compare one of the close-up pictures from my previous post with this, or any close-up picture of that German Altar Frontal in the Cloisters (go to Textiles from the Cloisters for some great close-ups).

So, here's my question: Where can one get silks like this? I'm assuming that I'll probably need to dye it myself, but I'd just like to know what's out there. Any suggestions?

*OK, in all honesty, this DID happen to me once. And for a "medieval" project, why bother complaining about it? Nothing wrong with a little inconsistency there.. I'll point this out when that project is done and I have pictures of it.

UPDATE [17 Dec]: Kathy Storm posted (Medieval Arts & Crafts) her opinions on several type of embroidery floss available. Helpful - and with a visual aid! Do check it out.


Helene said...

I'm currently working on that very style of embroidery and blogging about it at http://helenestuff.blogspot.com/ .
I've been using Rainbow Gallery brand line of silk called Splendor. Its a 12 strand silk that comes in a large variety of colors (http://www.rainbowgallery.com/images/Splendor Family Display 2007.pdf). I've been very pleased with how the silk handles and stitches up, and I think that it looks remarkably like the period work that I've got good pictures of. I'm in the states, so I'm not sure if its available in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Au Ver a Soie's soie ovale? I think it works wonderfully for split stitch and satin stitch. Make sure your hands are really smooth though, as there is no twist to keep the fibers of individual thread together.

I buy mine from http://www.canvasshop.se/ but there ought to be a retail store closer to you.
Good luck!


Gina-B said...

I use DeVere's silk for just about everything, they do both tightly twisted (good for tassels for instance) and flosses - all continuous filament silk. I have always found it works up very in embroidery, and there's a great choice of colours - http://www.devereyarns.co.uk

They do mail order too.

Tristán Z. said...

Thank you, all three!

Kathy Storm said...

I vaguely remember reading that filament silk was used more than spun, but I'm not sure and I don't remember the reference. I sure would like some references for that. I like different threads for different reasons and haven't tried them all (yet). I've never tried the Silk Mori but would be interested to know how it compares to Soie Alger. The Aurorasilk is nice but since I don't dye I am limited to my scant remaining supply. If you dye it is available in 1000yd ($25) skeins or 4000yd ($90) cones undyed. Soie Ovale has no twist so you do have to be careful so it doesn't come apart while working. I'd like to try Devere but am afraid if I like it I will have to buy lots and I already have a lot of Soie Alger to work through.

M. said...

As far as filament silk goes, the untwisted ones I know of are Au Ver au Soie's Soie Ovale, the Japanese Silk Center's untwisted flat silk (probably other manufacturers of silk for traditional Chinese & Japanese embroidery would carry something similar), and Devere's loosely twisted filament silk.

You can also buy twisted filament silk--Au Ver au Soie has Soie Perlee and Soie Gobelins, and there's also Trebizond, and probably some others. Basically, you want to look for threads labeled "filament" rather than "spun" silk, and they're typically harder to find at local shops.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this style of embroidery but I'm with Gina-B - love Devere. So shiney - also a good price. I don't care for Splendor - to me it doesn't look any different from cotton once it's worked up. I use the 1440 denier Devere, split in half - coverage is perfect on 50 count. I'll post some of what I've been working on in the next day or two at sevenstarwheel dot wordpress dot com. Cheers! holly