The first time you put needle to fabric can be exciting. This article will give you some tips to help make your first needlepoint project fun as well as free from frustration.
We’ll begin with supplies. Embroidery thread is also referred to as floss, and there are many types and colors available. The type of needlepoint you do usually determines the type of thread you use, but this is not a set rule. It can be interesting to try using unconventional floss types for different types of needlework; for instance, using embroidery ribbon in place of stranded cotton. You must keep in mind, though, that there are some stitches and effects that can only be done with one specific type of thread.
The most common type of floss used is called Stranded Cotton. This floss is made up of 6 strands wound together. Usually, the strands are separated and then the required number of strands are re-joined to each other. Separating the strands like this makes for a thicker stitch, covering more fabric. An easy way to separate strands without tangling them is to hold the unseparated strands tightly in one hand, about 1 inch from an end (use the full floss length called for in the pattern, just hold the top tightly). Lightly lick your right index finger, and tap on the small tuft of floss held in your hand. Then, take one strand from the group and pull straight up. If you pull on a slant, your floss will tangle. Pull straight up, and it comes out easily. Separate as many threads as you need, and then hold them together for threading the needle.
Other types of threads include pearl (perle) cotton (a thicker, glossier thread than stranded cotton) embroidery ribbon, silk threads and ribbons, linen floss, synthetic floss and metal threads. For some types of embroidery, worsted weight yarn can be used to a nice effect. It is fun to experiment with the different colors and types of floss available. Stranded cotton is available in such a wide range of hues that you can “paint” with the floss. Painting with floss is a happy compromise between painting with paints and embroidery. There are so many subtle shades of floss out there that you can achieve some really beautiful images.
Threading the Needle
Threading your needle can be a pain in the neck, or it can be easy. If you want the hard way, just do it by hand. However, when working with more than one strand of floss at a time, it is much easier to use a needle threader. There are a few different kinds. One of the most popular is the tab made of medal or plastic with a wire diamond attached to the end. These are great for fine needles and fine threads. Be nice to them and they will help you out much. Don’t pull too hard on them or they will break. The wire is very fine wire, and must be treated gently. Put the wire diamond through the eye of the needle you wish to thread. Pull a bit of thread (about 5 or 6 inches) through the wire diamond. Now gently pull the wire back through the eye of the needle. If you can, pull while holding onto the wire. This gives it extra strength. If you do break one, don’t despair. These threaders are plentiful and cheap. Another type of threader is similar to the wire tab, but it has a flat metal hook on either side (a large one and a smaller one) in addition to the wire. These hooks are very effective for heavier threads. Don’t use them on the smaller needle eyes; they will break the thin metal around the needle’s eye. For the larger needles, though, and for thicker threads, these are very useful, as they’re a bit harder to break. Also available are automatic needle threaders. When looking for a threader, try different styles and see which you prefer. This little gadget, whether automatic or manual, is an indispensable part of the needle worker’s toolbox.