silk

I bought myself a pressie.

tramon the left are the colours I already had, and on the right the new ones I just bought, making up the complete range of colours available in this range. It’s not a huge range of colours, but it’s adequate for historical stuff, where you only really need a limited range.

I used the red and pale green on the left for the curtains and bedding on this year’s christmas project, alongside the devere no6 flat silk. I think the new stuff is marginally thicker, but they worked in together just fine.

tram 2The blue is devere, the green is the new stuff, as you can see they’re virtually identical.

The big difference is the price. I forgot to take a pic of a reel of this and a reel of devere side by side – the new stuff comes in minimum 10g reels, which cost £4.25, whereas I reckon you get less than a gram on a reel of devere for £2, which makes the new stuff considerably cheaper.

I have for many years bought twisted silk from the handweaver’s studio in london (30/2 and 60/2) for sewing and embroidery, because the colours are good and it cost a fraction of “proper” embroidery threads.  Once I did a needlepoint waistcoat using rowan knitting wool, which ended up costing me a quarter the price of using the recommended tapestry wool, and which is still going strong twenty years later. I’ve often advocated on the net that embroiderers should look at alternative threads, especially for historical work, because I resent being blatently scalped by embroidery suppliers – after all, did a medieval embroiderer  use soi de algiers?

doubt it.

This stuff is called tram silk. It’s a flat silk ideal for fine embroidery (sometimes its slightly more crinkly than other flats, but once you apply thread conditioner and sew with it it flattens out again). I would love to see more people being free with their embroidery, instead of being nervous about wasting expensive materials. I sigh when I see all the work that goes into german brick stitch done in cotton when it would look so much prettier and more period done in silk, and this tram silk would work beautifully.

Oh, and you see that reel of gold twist in the middle – that’s evidence that I can actually be charming when I put my mind to it, despite what Gareth says. I rang Benton and JOhnson  cos I couldn’t find what I wanted on thier crap website, and the man said he had it in his hand but I would have to order over the net because net orders take priority over the phone ones( and he didn’t want to do the paperwork) but that net orders take ten days. So I was charming, he took my card details, and it was with me the next day. I’m going to play with it this afternoon.

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~ by opusanglicanum on February 21, 2013.

25 Responses to “silk”

  1. It’s not quite the same as your beautiful silk thread, but I have always advocated using really cheap thread for machine embroidery – you are much more likely to do more sewing which always looks more professional than a few hesitant marks if you use cheap stuff which isn’t going to have to hold anything together anyway. Plus it can make a much finer line a lot of the time. I’m with you.

    • thing is, the tram silk is the same quality as the dedicated embroidery silk, but you get a much better price by buying a relatively large quantity. A lot of beginners are intimidated by silk because they’re afraid of the price, and I’d like to see them use this because you can forget the price constraints and learn by making a few mistakes, a cheaper source gives you more creative freedom becasue you needn’t be afraid of being extravagant

  2. I know these silks will have cost you a fortune…they did me. Except I had a friend who had a holliday in Morocco, and brought me back 16 spools, at the vast cost of 6euros! So find someone going to Morocco!

    • mine were cheap comapred to the alterantives – i think once you factor in the price of a trip to moroco…

    • Sorry to to disappoint you, but according to Susan S. Davis, an anthropologist and expert on Moroccan textiles, the word for silk and rayon (viscose) is the same in Moroccan Arabic: hrir [huh rear]. They used silk up to the 1930s, but it became insanely over priced.

      There have been efforts to raise silkworms in Morocco, but they have failed. Sometimes now you will find a rug [often violet] woven of real silk that has been unravelled from cords that used to hold ceremonial daggers, but they are rare, small, and very expensive. There are also some djellaba [traditional robe] weavers in the Bzou area in SW Morocco who use silk and wool combined to make very fine, transparent fabric; government Ministers wear those djellaba when they visit the King.

      You can check to see if it is rayon: just wet a bit in the middle of the thread and pull it…it will break there, which is a sure test. If you do a burn test, silk will smell like burning hair whereas rayon will smell like burning paper.

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings…I hope I’m wrong!

      • I hope you are wrong, as the items I have are exactly the same as the ones I paid vast sums for from the Japanese Embroidery Centre! The deffinately are silk…so I quess I am a lucky lady.

      • I hope I’m wrong, too! 😉 Let us know the results of any test you do.

  3. A huge thank you for pointing me in the direction of the Handweaver’s Studio – I can feel a visit coming on – just need to summon enough will-power not to wipe out the bank account. I’ve been experimenting with yarns for months and can’t imagine why I didn’t do it much earlier – some of the silks I’ve found this way have been the most gorgeous to work with.

  4. Ooh, just looked at the website. The silk looks lovely and the cotton looks rather tempting…. Thank you for showing me.

    • I’ve never really played with the cottons, but they often have interesting things. I’m very fond of the como silk, which really does cost a fortune, but its nice for chunkier braids and things

  5. They beautiful lined up even before you use them! That is good to know about tram silk–sounds much more economical.

  6. cost of a trip to Morocco …and training a friend!

  7. It’s the same with metal threads – I find the real metal threads easier to manage than the fake ones. Which works out cheaper in the end, because there aren’t so many mistakes….

  8. I must need a cup of coffee… took me two reads to figure out what a pressie was. Oh… I get it. 🙂
    Nice little gift to yourself… it’s always a fine feeling to have a good supply of what you need to do your best work.

  9. Can you share information on your source? Despite the fact that I’m in the USA, I have family in the UK who could get some of this and bring it over for me!

  10. For being a source of inspiration to me, I have nominated you for the Inspiring Blogger Award.
    If you have recently been nominated for this award OR if you’re not keen on participating in the process, please feel free to accept my appreciation of your talent and desire to point others in your direction. I think you’re FABULOUS! with no strings attached. 🙂

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