Thread comparisons and characteristics.

A3.  If you haven’t solved your problem of “Bouncy” metallic threads unraveling …put a single half hitch on the thread, get a plastic drinking straw, cut a piece the length of the neck of your bobbin then slice up one side of this little piece of straw then wrap around the bobbin neck…covering the metallic thread … This will hold it all neatly and you just lengthen the thread normally as you need it…..  Works on any style bobbin. I have used this method for many years … A lot of you know how much I work with metallic …it’s brilliant If you are using thicker metallic thread and quite a lot of it the fast food shop with the golden arches logo!!!  Has a fatter straw!

A4.  One of our lace makers came back from overseas with a great idea to stop gimps and metallic threads from “falling off the bobbin”.  Go to a shop that sells hair gear such as clips etc and buy the smallest hair grips you can get.  These will clamp over the thread on the bobbin and keeps the thread from falling off. It is brilliant!!!  And it is as ‘cheap as chips’.

How did it work out with the texture between the Guttermans and the Presencia?
Not enough difference to worry about, as it was only a small Radical reticella pendant. I can feel the difference, and could feel it while I was making it, but it appears no different now it is finished. As they are different colours, it does not show.

The Biggins website has the following general advice for using Finca
threads: “When using this beautiful thread for patterns that do not use Finca thread just go up a number. If it says, for instance, Filato Di Cantu 30 go up a number and use Finca 40. If it says Tanne 50 go up a number to Finca 60.”

Algodon 50 is the same as Finca 50, Fresia 120/2 is slightly finer than DMC Broder 30, Brok 36/2, Fresia 100/2, Mettler Stickgarn 30 is slightly thicker that Egyptian Cotton 50/2, Brok 60/2, Tanne 50

The Presencia 50 is thicker than Tanne 50.  Like all the Spanish threads, they work on a different system. It is more like a 30, but is finer than Guttermans cotton.  Maybe a 40 thickness. It is nice for NL.   I used some Guttermans, recently, on a reticella piece (trying to get a Stained Glass window affect), and used some presencia on some sections (needed that particular colour!), and found that the Gutterman’s areas were slightly thicker than the Presencia area.

It only comes in 50. Hint for mail ordering colours: If you are after certain colours in threads and have to try to do it by mail order –  try to match the colour you want to a DMC stranded cotton and then the ladies at the other end have something to work from!! ( I worked at Stadia last year one day a week and we were constantly doing that with embroiderers from all over the country and it worked well!)

Algodon 50 is made by the same people as the Finca thread – Presencia. It is their sewing thread but it is 100% cotton and works  well for lace and has a wonderful range of colours. I used it for some butterflies a few years ago and it was great! It is the same as the Finca 50.

I rang the supplier this morning and the colours in Finca 30 and 50 are still on the boat coming out should be in soon She has pastel colours, lemon, green, blue, orange,and pink coming. As soon as they arrive she is going to let me know. She also has 180 colours in Algadon 50 in stock now.

I have some colours in Zwicky which I think is about no 50 pure cotton, I have white and ecru in 30,50,80 madiera plus the usual colours in cordenet

The only colours that the Finca 50 and 60 come in are black, white and ecru and a rather lovely antique white. Stadia does have their Algodon Threads in a good range of colours – it is a sewing thread that is approx 50 weight. The other option is the Mettler 60/2 which come a wonderful range of colours that your local patchwork/sewing machine shop might have. The Algodon range are good to work with but the Mettler are finer.

As far as I know, there aren’t any colours in the finer Finca threads …… yet.  We can live in hope. I checked the USA site
which confirmed this.   I couldn’t make any sense out of the Spanish site – they didn’t seem to mention colours at all

Does anyone know if there is an Australian supplier who stocks the Turkish Altin Basak threads?  I’ve still got a few balls of it left – it is particularly good for tatting. It comes in such wonderful colours

Boken 80
The Bockens 40/2 is much thicker.
Brok 50/2 is about like 30 Cotton – DMC Broder Machine or Madeira Tanne.
Brok 80 is suitable for use on 1mm straight or 1/20 inch diagonal

DMC embroidery cotton
What I did find out from the teacher that DMC embroidery cotton thread is ideal for making lace.   Two strands is equivalent to the 50/2 linen we were using for the Russian tape lace, so I popped out and bought us a batch, and we used it combined with the linen for our sample technique strips.  She said she has a pupil in Belgium who has made an entire large tape lace mat out of just embroidery cotton (but commented it was very expensive because she needed so much)

DMC linen embroidery threads make up beautifully; but don’t put too much tension if you’re using just a single or double strand, it’s very fragile.  The good thing is that if a thread does break, being linen, you can just overlap the thread for a couple of stitches and it looks like a continuous thread.  I’ve made a couple of Bookmarks out of them.
one strand it works up quite well BUT you have to be careful with tension, as it is inclined to pull apart easily.

The one that comes in 8metre skeins and 6 strands.  I would really like to hear what you think about the linen.  I have been looking at some samples and the twist seems a little loose to me.  How does the DMC compare with the other coloured linens such as the Moravian or the Brockens.  I have wrapped a sample and it seems to be about 38 wraps per centimetre.

DMC Fil d’Or
Listed under “Glitter Threads”….both of them a 27w/cm measure

Fil d’or – my list has DMC gold or silver <> in the column under Broder Machine 30.

I have “Thread and Pricking: A Partnership” by Martina Wolter-Kampmann that has Retors Louis D’Or 100% cotton spiral-wound size 36 equates to Brok 36/3 and 40 equivalent to DMC 30

This is the DMC sewing thread for machines.  It is in gold naturally I assume you could substitute any other machine sewing gold thread (the slightly thicker ones) OR use the stranded DMC gold thread, use 2 threads.  I’m working from memory here.

I know that Retors d’Alsace was changed to Broder Machine

DMC Fil a Dentelle
The DMC fil a Dentelles 5g.  100% cotton size 310 equates to Brok 36/3 and 109 Special Dentelles No 80.  From the book “Thread and Pricking: A Partnership” by Martina Wolter-Kampmann

Comes in two sizes, a 70 at 30w/cm, and 200 at 48 w/cm.  Given that 27w/cm and 30w/cm are not all that dissimilar in size,

I have an old chart – showing Fil a Dentelle as 70/80 and equal to Brok 36/3, Egyptian cotton 40/3, DMC cordonette 100 (Crochet cotton),

DMC Filato di Cantu
Filato di Cantu 40, Coats Sylko 40, Pipers silk 80/3and 60/2 in Brockens and Friesia linen.

DMC Glow-In-the-Dark
 DMC have released a similar thread.  It is stranded, so while it will be a pain to separate, it may be interesting for Christmas decorations etc (use 2 threads)
DMC Special Dentelles
The DMC tatting thread is called DMC Special Dentelles

Egyptian cotton
Egyptian 80 cotton is very, very fine.  There’s a book called “Threads for Lace” by Brenda Paternoster which lists every thread imaginable – she measures thread by “wraps per centimetre”, and Egyptian Cotton has 50 wraps per centimetre – compare that to Finca 40, which I use a lot of, which is only 29 wraps per centimetre!  It’s the sort of thread that would be used for nice, fine Bucks Point lace.  If Egyptian Cotton No. 80 is 50 wraps per centimetre.  The closest to it in Rosemary Shepherd’s Table of Grids for Use with Different Threads (page40 & 41) would be the final group of 140/2 linen, No. 50 Retorsd’Alsace, No. 80 Brok cotton and No. 80 “Honiton thread”, for which she recommends using 2mm graph paper drawn up on the diagonal, giving a mesh/grid size of 2.8mm. Using Brenda Paternoster’s rule of “Torchon lace should have about 12 threads between foot-edge pins”, then if Egyptian  80is 50 wpc, then 50 divided by 12 is near enough to 4, and 4 into 10mm (one centimetre) is 2.5, i.e. footside pins should be a tiny 2.5mm apart.

Colours in Finca 30 weights and 50.  She has pastel colours, lemon, green, blue, orange, and pink in #20 weight, and 9 (I think) colours in their #30 lace thread.
“When using this beautiful thread for patterns that do not use Finca thread just goes up a number.  If it says, for instance, Filato Di Cantu 30 goes up a number and use
Finca 40.  If it says Tanne 50 go up a number to Finca 60.”

There is a great range of colours in the Presencia Finca Algodon sewing cotton #50 and it is very close to the size of the DMC broder machine #50.

The only colours that the Finca 50 and 60 come in are black, white, ecru, and a rather lovely antique white. Stadia do have their Algodon Threads in a good range of colours – it is a sewing thread that is approx 50 weight. The other option is the Mettler 60/2, which come a wonderful range of colours that your local patchwork/sewing machine shop might have. The Algodon range is good to work with but the Mettler is finer.

I saw the colours in #50 and #60 on the Biggins (Vivienne)  site in England.

Finca 50cotton 29 wpc = Madeira Tanne/cotona 3 = Mulberry Silks 100/3 = Fresia 80/2 linen = Brokens 90/2 linen

Glow in the dark thread
The thread was purchased on my recent trip to Europe and glows in the dark.  It was made by Bart Francis and is lovely to use and very reasonably priced.  Bart makes lots of different thread combinations and is great to talk to.

100% cotton machine thread is 42 wpc

White and ecru in 30, 50, 80 .
Madeira silk for needle lace. Comes up beautifully, with a slight sheen.  With a fair range of colours too.  The silk embroidery floss type stuff.

The other thread I have found recently is Mettler 60/2 in a wonderful range of colours. It is used for machine embroidery so try patchwork and sewing machine shops that also have fabrics etc

Q:  Thanks for the tip re the Mettler 60/2, what is its equivalent?  DMC 50??
A:  Mettler 60/2 is finer than DMC Broder Machine 50 – the same as DMC Broder Machine 60, Egyptian Gassed 70/2, and Brok 120/3.  Slightly finer than Brok 1000/3, and Finca 80 too – from Brenda’s book!!

Pickermann-Gögglngen AG
100% viscose / rayon (shiny & slight variegations in colour) it has a surprising firmness to it when made into lace to the point where you would believe it to have been slightly stiffened.  The colours available in it are unlimited and its thickness is somewhere between 50 and 80


the Presencia 50 is thicker than Tanne 50.  Like all the Spanish threads, they work on a different system. It is more like a 30, but is finer than Guttermans cotton.  Maybe a 40 thickness. It is nice for NL.   I used some Guttermans, recently, on a reticella piece (trying to get a Stained Glass window affect), and used some presencia on some sections (needed that particular colour!), and found that the Gutterman’s areas were slightly thicker than the Presencia area.

Stiffen Thread
Q.  I want to stiffen an individual thread in a motif I am working and wondering what other gumnuts have used to stiffen lace or individual threads. Years ago I used a Moravia ‘mix’ but it took the sheen off the thread and am wondering if there is something better?

A. ‘Stiffy’ with some water added; (on its own it’s too stiff.)  I got it at Lincraft.  However, Rosemary also suggests Craft-Smart – an acid free glue from Spotlight, and add water.

I found some Craft Smart at the local scrapbooking shop and the lady said that it should be fine.  I liked the idea of it being acid free.

Tanne (Madeira)
Tanne 30 is quite fine (29 w/cm) – equivalent to Brockens 90/2 linen, Bouc 80, Fresia 80/2, Finca 40 etc; DMC Cordonnet special 80 (the one that comes in lots of colours) is 30 w/cm … It is a nice thread to work with.

Tanne 50 is 39 w/cm (DMC Broder Special 50 is 40 w/cm)
Tanne 80 is 50 w/cm and is VERY fine! If you’re like me, I’d be leaving the #80 to experts with good eyesight!

I am a great fan of the Finca….it comes in such a range of sizes, suitable for heavy Torchon etc., right up to the fine threads suitable for Bucks….when the lace is finished, it has a nice “body” to it – not rigid stiff, but firm, as if its standing with chin held high, proclaiming to the world “I am beautiful hand-made bobbin lace”……whereas I always feel that lace made with thread with the wrong twist on it, heaves a sigh of relief when the pins are taken out, and relaxes.

I’ve been given 1 roll of “Pickermann-Gögglngen AG” 100% viscose / rayon (shiny & slight varigation in colour). Would it work in bobbinlace? or would it be too slippery????

If this thread is anything like the rayon machine embroidery thread, it will be very nice for bobbin lace. it has a surprising firmness to it when made into lace to the point where you would believe it to have been slightly stiffened! There is one problem with it, and that is the fact that it not easy to stop it from slipping off the bobbin. That problem is easily solved by using tiny clamps on the bobbin.(minute hair grips, around 1 cm, available for next to nothing from any hair gear outlet). I like this thread a lot! the colours available in it are unlimited and it’s thickness is somewhere between 50 and 80, allowing for lovely fine work.

Has anyone tried the DMC linen thread?  The one that comes in 8metre skeins and 6 strands.  I would really like to hear what you think about the linen.  I have been looking at some samples and the twist seems a little loose to me.  How does the dmc compare with the other coloured linens such as the moravian or the bockens.  I have wrapped a sample and it seems to be about 38 wraps per centimetre.

I’ve tried them Joanne, one strand it works up quite well BUT you have to be careful with tension, as it is inclined to pull apart easily.

What brand of silk is it, Rochelle? I have used lots of Pipers, Au ver a soie, Gutermann, Pearsalls, Madeira, Stef Francis

I have found two obscure brand kaalund yarn and gumnut yarn, but they have the variegated colours I want. How does the silk compare in general, Jenny?

Never used these two threads in bobbin lace but I’ve used them a lot in
needlelace and they work up beautifully!

Generally it works up really well – particularly if it is not too stiff. I found the Tire silks a bit too stiff and some of the stranded and embroidery threads – like Madeira, Au ver a soie, Colour Streams, Dinky Dyes very soft but in what I was doing they were fine.

The one word of warning is that it doesn’t ‘grip’ like cotton threads – when you are working with cotton or linen you can ‘recycle’ the pins after a reasonable distance and it won’t pull – or gather up – as you tension further down the lace – but silk will!! You need to leave at least double the length of pins in – more if you can – particularly watch the passives in the footside or a fan etc!! very painful to have to carefully pull it out again!

What is the difference between boiled and unboiled silk?

I have used it with 1.5mm knitting needles to make knitted bookmarks. Makes up beautifully and the colours are vibrant.

The following is from “A Silk Workers Notebook” by Cheryl Kolander (borrowed from the Embroiderers’ Guild library in an attempt to answer for myself the very questions just asked on the list….) “Silk as it comes from the cocoon is coated with a protective layer called silk gum, or sericin. The coating may be any colour: white, yellow, brown, beige, green; its colour is not related to the colour of the silk beneath it. The silk gum is dull and stiff, so it is usual to remove it to reveal the pure, lustrous, soft silk fibre. Silk with all its gum is called “raw silk”. Raw silk is silk in its strongest, most elastic and most durable state. There are several processes for removing the silk gum. Called “degumming”, “stripping”, “boiling off” or “schapping”, the process may remove all the gum, or only a portion. Silk which retains some gum is stronger in all respects than if the gum is completely removed. Partial degumming will give a silk whose lustre is softly muted.

True raw silk should not be confused with the fashionable “raw silk” fabric,actually woven from noil silk.  In the past silk was not spun, but “reeled” – this requires cultivated cocoons, and only about half of each cocoon is usable. Reeled silk which is subsequently subjected to a spinning process is called “thrown” silk. The silk which is spun into threads used to be used for wadding etc. Raw silk is too stiff to spin well.

The unboiled silk used for Chantilly is therefore reeled “raw silk”. From a weaver’s perspective, fabric woven from raw silk will ultimately wear soft and glossy.

A tip from one of my students, who is also a weaver: put the silk into the freezer if you want better behaviour from it (obviously not once it is on the pillow, but may make it easier to wind onto the bobbins).

The pattern I am working has a small gimp loop (no answer as to how traditional this would have been…) – since I am using 4 strands of the unboiled #250 as a gimp, I’m expecting this to be an even more interesting experience than the average gimp loop.

Silk from Janya in Thailand is labelled “raw” and “polished”. The reel of her raw silk is a heavier thread than the Danish one I used – about the same weight as the boiled silk from Denmark. (However, I know the Danish silk comes from Thailand – it may still be the same factory. The dyeing is done by the Danish couple I think).The Danish silk is listed as Lia Baumeister-Jonkers #250 silk in Brenda Paternoster’s book. I don’t think Janya’s silk is listed.

Ilske told us that unboiled is OK for the gimp, but boiled is the authentic silk for the ground.

Flower Thread

Danish flower thread is a cotton thread used in embroidery – it has very little (if any) sheen – a little bit like DMC Coton-a-Broder say 16, 20 or 25 or DMC has or had, a similar thread – Soft Cotton.   Also used in stump work.  Comes in lots of colours.

DMC Fil Fleur. Comes in little hanks like stranded cotton but is a single thread. According to Brenda’s book, 23 wraps / cm. I suspect it’s primarily designed for embroidery, but is nice to use in bobbin lace as a gimp with finer threads, or as I’m using it, as a colour contrast with No. 12 perle (which is a tad thicker but not enough to be noticable!)

I have used it way back in 1995 I did the Fantasy Flowers with RosemaryShepherd and it worked great once it was on the bobbins but was a nightmare to get from the skein to the bobbin….. tangled and all sorts …spent 2 hours during one of the workshop days fighting with it.

If it’s Ginny Thompson Flower thread it is an embroidery thread, too weak really to tat with I found, and the twist makes it not really suitable for lace.

I’ve used flower thread with no problems at all when making some Kortelahti pictures. I’ve done an iris flowers one in 3 yellow, and a pansy in 3 blues , 1 green and brown. It worked perfectly smoothly on my bobbins, as well as linen, and I never had a broken thread. I’d recommend it for small motives in a tape lace style.

Do remember to check the rayon thread to make sure it is not too stretchy.  When I was a beginner my first big project was to make a handkerchief edging.  I did it in a pretty aqua-coloured rayon and was very pleased with the result until I took it off the pins.  It simply crumpled up into an unrecognisable mess!

I have never had much luck with Rayons.  They are springy and like to jump off the pins.  They don’t obey the laws of physics or lace-making.  I agree with Kathy.  I have used marlit in smocking.  Lovely shiney result, but a pain to work with.

As I understand it, rayon describes several fibres which are chemically slightly different viscose (aka viscose rayon) is one of them! So viscose is rayon but not all rayon is viscose! Yes they do take up dyes really well, and they are cheaper than natural silk. I’m sure some of them would make great lace – I’d be trying it out on something small first though to check it behaves properly!

Adding even more unwanted information – did you know that cellulose is a long string of glucose molecules joined together? So is starch, but the joins are different in cellulose. And did you know that the outside skeleton of insects contains chitin, which is like cellulose but with an N-acetyl group on each glucose?  Chitin gives the insect skeleton its stiffness (not its hardness), and cellulose gives the plant cell wall its stiffness. And did you know that most animals with plants in their diets can digest starch, but very very few can digest cellulose or chitin. Some have bacteria or protozoa that do it for them.

Triacetate is a slightly different product to rayon – it’s made from cellulose and (among others) acetic acid (as in vinegar!). First made in 1954, so about 60 years younger than rayon. Primarily used for photographic film – was made by Eastman Kodak up until about a month ago (digital technology strikes again!!!)

For use as a fibre it needs further treatment as it is badly affected by static build-up. You might remember the very shiny tracksuits (fluffy inside) that were so fashionable in the late 80’s –  they were a polyester / triacetate mix.

Then there is acetate rayon (or cellulose acetate) which started life as a recognised fibre in the 1920’s but had been used for photographic film for about 20 years before that …  Isn’t acetate film the stuff that burns rather too easily?!?!?

I can remember as a small child wearing cotton undies knitted by my grandmother! She lived in Holland and had only the vaguest idea of size – I was always very tall, so my younger (and much smaller!) brother usually got them when they wouldn’t stretch enough. I had undies made by my mother too!!!

Rayon is “natural” in that the base material is cellulose (usually from wood fibre or cotton waste, although it could also be from flax / hemp / jute / any other fibrous plants). It is dissolved in sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), undergoes chemical treatment with carbon disulphide, and a series of treatments which turn it back into a fibre. They can taylor the properties to suit different markets – fibre diameter / profile, crimp, lustre etc to make it feel (more or less!) like various natural fibres (silk, wool, cotton …). Viscose is the same beast under another name, and cellophane is chemically the same but the process differs a little!

Rayon is the first ‘man made fibre’ and Jo is right initally it was made from cellulose fibres that were treated. It was initially sold as artificial silk. I think it dates back to the early 1900s. Nylon, the new wonder fibre of the 1950s is all made from a concoction of chemicals as is polyester and most of the new synthetic fibres. Virtually all new synthetic fibres are a by-product of the oil industry (as in petroleum), but they do not need to be made from this, they can in theory be made from other oils. I’m under the impression that cellulose is only plant based (the hard stuff in plant cells, very long carbon chains). If rayon is still made from cellulose then it is a natural man made fibre.

I think that Rayon is a man-made fibre which means it is from naturally-occurring cellulose fibre but then treated.  For example, Rayon can include flax husks.  However, I read recently that some rayon can be a combination of man-made fibres, natural cellulose fibre and synthetics as well..

I have heard all sorts of conflicting information about Rayon as a thread  – that it is a ‘natural’ fibre and that it is an ‘artificial’  fibre. I’d be interested in hearing what other gumnuts have heard or know about Rayon. I have used it for lacemaking and apart from having a mind of its own on the bobbins it is fine!

This is why I was wondering – I had always thought it was ‘man made’ but then someone recently said to me that it made from natural cellulose fibre so that it behaved like a natural fibre!

Favourite Threads
Two threads I dont like are the ones I purchased when doing the one and only workshop or class Ive ever done, it was a Rosaline class and we had to purchase a thick and a thin thread. The thick was a linen thread 70/3 which I find near impossible to use, it seems to twist off the bobbins and curls up a lot. Maybe I should wind my bobbins in the opposite direction! As it was only a weekend class, I never got to use the thin thread. This thread is about 120 and slightly finer than DMC 50. Prob equivalent to DMC 60. I did some mileage (Bucks) on a narrow edging to try to use it up but havent managed to make any impression at all on it! It doesnt give as crisp a finish as DMC 50. For tatting and tatting, I have used mainly Coats Mercer crochet 20, 40, 50. For Hardanger, Perle 5, 8 and 12.

What other threads do you like to use?

Various quilting cottons – a lovely variegated light purple (Signature brand)

DMC Broder Machine / Retors d’Alsace – have happily used #30 (in various colours) but am currently using #50 and it’s annoyingly untwisting (and breaking!). I’ve rewound some of the bobbins backwards in the hope that might reduce the problem but haven’t dome enough to really tell. (I’m more or less ambidextrous so it’s not difficult for me to do, just need to concentrate to tell the difference!!!)

Linens – varying success! But I love the Barbours #40 I’m using at present (my scarf is now ~140 cm long)

What thread do you hate using and why? For example – it unplies on you!!

Moravia linens (#35) – they seem to unravel, break very easily. The Barbours linen is unbleached; maybe the dying weakens it?!?!?
What nontraditional lace threads have you used and why? For example – DMC stranded cotton – had the colours I wanted!

Had some lovely DMC Flower thread (Fil Fleur). Have a LOT of stranded cotton but haven’t used it for bobbin lace – yet!!!

How did they work up/behave? Would you use them again? Any interesting tips for using them?

I’m much happier using metallic threads since I bought a set of tiny hait clips to hold them in place!!!

I have favourite threads for each of the different laces I make. For Bucks I like Brok and Egyptian cotton and Coton a Broder for the gimp. I think Coton a Broder look better in Bucks than Perle. It is a softer thread and spreads nicely around the corners. For Torchon I usually use Finca. I can’t use DMC Broder or Madeira Tanne it untwists and drifts apart. For coloured Torchon I use Madeira Cotona, Guttermans pure cotton or coloured linen. I can use the Madeira Cotona for small projects but occasionally have to stop and put more twists on all the threads. There are quite a few linens that come in a lovely ranges of colours. I have tries stranded embroidery threads (one thread) but I was nor really happy with the result. It looked a bit fluffy. In the courser Torchons I have used a 2mm. satin ribbon for the gimp. This works quite well, turn the ribbon right over to get around the corners. If you have trouble keeping the glitter threads on your bobbins cut a piece of plastic drinking straw the length of the bobbin neck, split it open from top to bottom on one side and put it over the wound thread.

When I started lacemaking, 25 years ago, Retors d’ Alsace was the “in” thread for finer laces such as Bucks…and I still have quite a cache of that!   Shortly afterwards, it went off the market, and ordinary old DMC took it’s place.  There was also Madiera Tanne and the linen threads, although they weren’t available in the finer sizes.

I hate Tanne –  I only tried it once, because I’m one of those people for whom Tanne loses it’s twist and parts – doesn’t break, just disintegrates.     I also used Gutterman silk to make some lace for the bottom of a petticoat – and was disappointed to find that it “pilled” in use, and catches on my stockings.

When using DMC,  I was always slightly dissatisfied with my lace when I took it off the pillow – almost as if it was breathing a sigh of relief and relaxing once I took the pins out.

Then I started to read about the effect on traditional lace of the twist used when plying the thread during the manufacturing process, and the light went on in my brain!   I made a conscious decision that, unless I wanted to use colour, I would in future only use threads which are specifically made for lacemaking.    Now when I take out the pins, my lace stands tall and proud, and proclaims to the world:  “look at me, *I’m* handmade lace”!!

Although I have used Brok, my favourite thread for Bucks is Egyptian Cotton – it has a nice amount of body, without being too stiff, and a good white colour.   I do also use Presencia Finca, although I’m not so keen on that for Bucks…but for Torchon, these days I’d go for the Finca every time.

At one stage there was a thread called Filato du Cantu – it used to be available in a wider range of sizes, but by the time I discovered it, only in two of the thicker sizes.   I did like that for Torchon – it had a nice feel, a slight sheen, and easily fools people into thinking it’s linen when in fact it was cotton.

I’m not a great fan of linen – I do use it, but much prefer the easier handling properties of cotton.

Looking for something to prove to assessors that I wasn’t stuck in a rut, I picked up a reel of King Tut quilting cotton (comes in a lovely range of varigated colours) a couple of years ago in W.A.   I rather liked that too – it seemed to work up really nicely for Torchon.   I’ve also used DMC Special Dentelles – in fact, that’s the thread I start beginners with, which also comes in a range of colours.

My pet hate is Perle 12 for traditional lace!  I can’t understand why, when there are so many nice threads and colours around, anyone would use a soft, springy, thread which doesn’t hold it’s body for their lovely lace!

I love to work with Gutterman Silk Threads as their colours are great and the thread when it works up is beatifull.  I have used it in alot of Milanese lace.  Also the DMC 50 has a large variety of colour and works well though it is now hard to get.  I have worked in Rayon  I made a book mark, but was not very happy with it so I have not tried it again.  I have used the Gutterman Cotton thread as well so as you can see I love to work in colour all the time.

Favourite thread – the finest Finca Bolillos, bobbin lace cotton, Other threads I use – coton a broder, great gimp, can get as fine as a size 40 Most unfavourite thread – DMC broder machine – stresses out way too quickly, forever requiring re-twisting Non traditional threads – not yet.  But I did enjoy venturing into colour with Marie Christine Gosse and I hope to keep that up Tips – for a misbehaving thread such as a metallic (not the Greek sort) that keeps jumping off the bobbin, use a tiny, tiny hair butterfly clip that goes around the neck of the bobbin, over the thread.

I have just recently bought some silk quilting thread, on a reel it is clover variegated silk – it is really lovely for needlelace and I think would be nice for bobbin lace too.  At present I do not think that it comes in a great deal of colours, or maybe the shop where I found it only stocked a few of the colours.  Whilst I was in the same shop I came across reels of wool quilting thread – lovely colours, think it would be lovely to stitch with. I love my fil a dentilles tatting thread – like Noelene, I am always worried that some of the lovely variegated colours may never appear again – they are lovely for needlelace too.
>What is your favourite lacemaking thread and why?
Finca 40 or 50 – I like the feel of it when I work, and I like the look of the finished product.  I’m finding the Finca 100 looks great in Bucks too, wish it came just a bit finer again.

>What other threads do you like to use?
I love the colours in the DMC 80 and Venus range.  I have a drawer full, trouble is I hate breaking into them and using them because I just might never be able to get that colour again!

>What thread do you hate using and why? For example – it unplies on you!!
I’m not too keen working with linen thread, it seems “sticky” to the touch to me.  And the fine stuff breaks (again, for me).
I’ve never had anything unply – YET.
I’m not keen either on using DMC Perle for gimps – they seem to go fuzzy and not look as good as I’d like.  I’m starting to use multiple strands of the main thread as a gimp lately.

And there was once a thread put on the market, about 10 years ago, especially for tatting, called “LHB tatting thread”.  It was quickly taken OFF the market again.   You couldn’t do more than one double stitch without letting go your shuttle to get rid of twists.  A nightmare.  I had unfortunately bought a large collection of the stuff (SonAndHeir was in the USA at the time and brought it back for me).  I kept it, and find it makes quite acceptable bobbin lace.

>What nontraditional lace threads have you used and why? For example – DMC stranded cotton – had the colours I wanted!
>How did they work up/behave? Would you use them again? Any interesting tips for using them?

At Nadine Pauwels Russian Tape Lace workshop a year or so ago, she extolled the virtues of using DMC stranded cotton in your own choice of plies, especially for gimps.   She said she actually had someone in her class in Belgium made an entire large tape lace mat all from DMC stranded cotton, because it was the only thread available in the shading she required.   She did comment it cost the lacemaker a lot of money to buy that quantity of thread, though!

The DMC stranded linen also works up well, but single strands are a little weak, and won’t withstand a good Torchon Tug.

I’ve happily used 1 ply wool to make a scarf – it didn’t shrink all that much when I took the pins out – well, less than I expected.

I’ve used an equivalent to the Rajmahal art silk (something called Cifonda) because I just LOVE the colours, and found it surprisingly easy to work with.   I love to just grab a handful of colours, set up a bookmark with just any colours on any pins, and let them go where they like.

To unstrand both DMC stranded cotton, and the art silk, I lock the cat outside, then sit in a lounge chair with the skein of thread, undone, one side on the floor and the end on the arm of the chair.   I take one strand, and gently pull it out, piling it up on the floor on the opposite side.   Once unstranded, I wind it around a piece of cardboard, then tackle the next strand.   It’s only the first strand that is so tedious to separate, the others are no problem.

And if you’re ever in an old haberdashery shop, keep an eye out for a Birch thread, in a reel in a plastic packet, called “Glista”, which came in metallic gold and silver.   It tats to perfection (the only metallic I ever found that did) and also works for bobbin lace.   Unfortunately, it is no longer available, but I still have a stash, and keep my eye out in any new possible shop.

All  Finca threads are lovely to work with. In Wales last year I was at Pat Gibson’s house when a large consignment arrived and I was able to buy
Finca Presencia which is a perle thread suitable for needlelace . It comes
in 16 which is a lot finer than  DMC 12 and really smooth to use.

Has anyone used Madeira Rayon 30 for bobbin lace, and if so how did you find it to use?  I have a simple pattern for a bread basket doily that I want to
make, and it calls for this thread, but I suspect it might slip off the bobbins easily and also stretch?

I have tried rayon and would not use it again.  It slips easily.  It knots around itself easily.  It is so springy it is hard to keep good tension.
I agree with Joanne in that it slips easily but also found that one extra twist before the slip knot on the bobbin prevents that. I found that it makes up very nicely with a surprising firmness to the finished lace. The incredible colour range is an added bonus.

I ultimately solved my problem by measuring the distances between the pins and working from the pricking size to the threads I had. for those of you newbies, if you measure the distance between the pin holes on the footside (ie along a straight part of the pricking),that equals 2 lines on a grid of graph paper. This will give you the size of graph paper used and then you can work backwards to the threads that use that separation (some of the old Lacemakers had this information and Rosemary has it in her beginners book on Torchon).

It was of course a little frustrating at first using the Paternoster book only to discover that the threads in the book didn’t match up with what was recommended in my ancient patterns and then neither matched with the threads I had. In the end I discovered that the thread in La guipure du Puy ‘soie no 100/3)or coton egyptien casse no 40’ are almost equivalent to DMC retors no 60 (this thread hasn’t been made for years!!!!!). It has turned out to be better than the original silk I had wound. The cotton is one shade lighter
than the nightie the lace is destined to decorate.

The other problem I had was with the Maincoff and Marriage book (original
was from 1908) that required Barbour No 80 which when compared to the
threads in Paternoster would have been far too fine, I discovered my linen
50 (forgot the brand, maybe BOUC as there is an elk head on the crest. I bought a huge amount 28 years ago when I started lacemaking) did the trick
and works a treat, I’m making the wide Russian tape lace edge from that

A word of warning to newbies when you buy thread and the brand is on the
outside cover keep it with the thread, either stuff it inside the core on which the thread is wound or place it in a small bag with the thread. It will save a lot of angst in the long run.

Have you looked in the book called Thread and Pricking: A Partnership?  Is there something in particular you would like me to look up?  No guarantees it is in there, but it might be.

I was very ‘clever’ and decided as I was going to learn Bedfordshire  I had better use linen thread. I wound the bobbins before leaving home and did all right (even if I do say so myself) at the workshops but when I got home again I did not touch the Beds on the board for about a month. During that month some little fairy had sprinkled separation dust all over the threads.
Within the first hour of starting it again I had 6 separated threads and a very frayed temper! I did the workshop in air conditioning, I traveled by plane home and the board was stored as usual in the dark craft room same as always which is also airconditioned. So I can not blame the heat or light. To my knowledge I did nothing different in the lace technique – CONCLUSION – watch out for the separation fairy!

The other thing that can cause ‘parting threads’ is heat. A friend had left her pillow sitting where it got the sun on it inside the window but as she had it firmly wrapped up she thought it was fine. And she was busy sorting the place out as they had just moved in.  When she came to unwrap it she gently smoothed the bobbins down and most of them came away in her hands – the threads just parted. They were linen! I think it just needs to be handled more carefully than cotton.

When I started working the big Russian mat I had only gone about 10 cms when the gimp …. perlé 5 …..started to “part” and was annoying me intensely so I spent 5 mins unwinding the bobbins and then rewinding them the “wrong” way (ie left handed!)
It’s not been a problem since! :-

Thread snapping is, I think everyone agrees, usually caused by pulling too hard on the thread, or thread rubbing on a rough spot on a bobbin or pin (I’ve had thread break when the neck of the bobbin has been poorly finished.) Thread parting is another matter altogether, and I don’t believe putting a wet Chux over the pillow will help, personally, especially as I don’t think “dry” would describe the Darwin climate!!

I had a student some years ago now who had no problems at all as long as she used what I would call “non-lacemaking” threads which are not specifically made for lacemaking, and which the experts usually say has the wrong twist for lacemaking.

However, when I moved this lady onto using threads specifically made for lacemaking, we found that her threads started parting. Eventually I got her to wind her bobbins in the opposite direction to normal – and the problem went away.  It would appear that the problem of threads *parting* is linked with the amount of untwisting which occurs in the making of the lace. This seems to differ from one lacemaker to the next.  Some people never have any difficulty, whilst certain threads cause others heaps of trouble!

I had the problem with Madiera Tanne, which I will never use again – however, other people love Madiera Tanne, and some of those people have difficulties with threads which give me no problems at all.

I’d suggest next time this happens, that you try winding your bobbins in the opposite direction.

Incidentally, when I first discussed this issue with Rosemary Shepherd in an effort to help my student, she’d never heard of it, although I think she now mentions it in the latest edition of her teaching book?

Does anyone know if DMC perle threads are colour fast? Would you treat a coloured finished piece of lace to stop it running? How would you do it? Just asking. I am making a thai silk suit with lace trimming.

Many of the problems with linen thread are common to the other threads – tugging and twist of thread/direction of winding/lacemaker’s own tendency to unwind or re-wind the twist while working. However, temperature and humidity are an added consideration with linen.  While many of us in Sydney don’t think that Sydney is humid, it IS. (I don’t notice it particularly now I have been living back here for over 2 years unless it is really “muggy”, but when I used to be an occasional visitor from full-time residence in Perth I used to find it intolerable even when it was not particularly sticky by local standards.)

I worked with linen quite a lot in my early lacemaking days in Sydney without major problems, except for 120/2 when I was very inexperienced. I always thought the SA and WA lacemakers who claimed their climate was too hot/dry for linen just hadn’t tried hard enough and/or were blaming their climate for their own problems. But one day about 15 years I was demonstrating with 100/2 in a shop window (Myers, facing onto ) with a bright light. It didn’t become unpleasantly hot since it was midwinter, but it was quite warm the air was very dry. The longer I was there, the more threads I broke. Same lacemaker, same pattern and stiches, same thread. I really believe hot and dry conditions are very unkind to linen (and that the SA and WA lacemakers are right)

For Tatting especially around handkerchiefs give me Dentelle 80. I have a box of Coates mercer 100 which I also use for tatting. I rarely use anything else.

I used a lot of Cebelia in my crochet days, Julie.   It is a lot softer than Cordonnet, and I prefer the Cordonnet for bobbin lace.  But it does crochet well, and also makes up quite well for Romanian Point crocheted cords, especially the thick Cebelia 10.  I don’t think I’d like to tat with it, it’s too soft.  I did use it for candlewicking little things in clothes hanger covers once, looked good.  And for me, 80 Dentelles is too fine for tatting, I like Cordonnet 40s and 50s. My favourite bobbin lace thread is Finca (especially Finca 40) and I realised the other day that 80 Dentelles is 30 wraps per centimetre and Finca 40 is 29 WPC!

I’ve been doing some tatting lately for a handkerchief, have passed the first corner and am continuing on. Its in DMC 50 crochet cotton. I was wondering if anyone here (I’m sure there is) uses Cebelia cotton? Ive always used DMC mercerised, have used 80 Dentelles for bobbin lace but not for tatting. What does everyone prefer ?

Colcoton is the brand name of a dutch producer.  There is a silk, a linen and a cotton.  The following equivalents refer to the thread size and not the nature of the thread, just to give you an idea of the thickness of the colcotons.
The 70/2 cotton is equivalent to the Fresia 140/2.  It’s very near neighbour is Egyptian 80/3 and the Fresia 120/2.
The 34/2 cotton is equivalent to DMC cordonnet special No. 50 or DMC cebelia No. 40, or bockens linen NO. 40/2
The 18/2 linen in white is equivalent to DMC cotton perle No. 8 and its very near neighbour is Bockens 40/3 linen.
The 18/2 linen in colours is equivalent to Bockens No. 35/3 linen.
The two ply silk is equivalent to a Bockens 40/3 linen.

I love the entire range of Finca Bolillos thread. I’ve used the Finca 20, the thickest they make in the Bolillos range, for Russian Tape lace with great success – it comes in several pastel colours. I use Finca Bolillos 40 for most of my Torchon pieces, both white and ecru and just love the way it works up, and the finished product.   I’ve used the Finca 30 too, with great results.  It’s only a tiny bit thicker than Finca 40.  I’ve worked up both on a 2mm grid.

Someone on gumlace reported some time ago that they tried a reel of Finca and didn’t like it because she found slubs in it – I’ve never had that trouble personally with Finca (touch wood) and I’ve used an awful lot of reels.  I did find a knot in a reel of Finca 40 once.

I’m currently using Finca 100 for a Bucks hanky edge, and even though I’m a bit heavy handed (swapping between Torchon and Bucks frequently), I’ve only broken the thread twice in over 45 cm of finished lace.

Finca threads are good. For a colour chart, go to the English site Biggins , the Torchon people, and go to their threads, and then Finca threads, and you can see the 6 or so colours you can get. The finer threads (#60 & #80) come in 3 colours, I think (I haven’t checked the Biggins site for a while) as well as white & ecru. I usually use Finca these days. Our supplier at Lace Days has it, and it is a good white white – if you know what I mean!!  DMC Broder Machine etc are usually a broken white – “Blanc” is Not white – when you put it next to something that is really white.

I made most of the patterns from Rosemary’s book with DMC Perle 12 (21 wraps per cm) up to chapter 14 and all worked our OK. Your Anchor Perle 8 (16 wraps) would be much thicker and your Finca 40 much finer (29 wraps). There is a Coats 40 in Brenda’s book which is 31 wraps but it may not be the same as yours. The worst that can happen if you use a different thread from that specified is the finished lace will be more crowded with thicker thread and sparser with finer thread. Then you will have learned by experience about the relationship between thread size & grid size. More experienced lacemakers will also tell you that they sometimes prefer a different thread size from that specified. Jenny Brandis has some information on her website about threads & grids.

Coates Crochet cotton size 40 is 23 wpc.
Coates Sylko (sewing machine cotton) size 40 is 28 wpc
J&P Coats cotton size 40 is 31 wpc
J&P Coats 6-cord size 40 is 33 wpc
The thing I like about Finca 40 is that it is the same thickness as the little balls of DMC 80 which you can get in all sorts of colours (I’ve got a drawer full of them) so if you want to add some colour, like the worker in the fans on an outside edge, all I have to do is choose a colour!

Linen!  I’m so used to working in cotton. The slubs in the linen really annoy me, and it feels so sticky to me.

I have, off and on, over the past umpteen years tried to use linen thread and even though it makes great tallies, it is NOT by any means something I enjoy using! As Noelene said, the slubs are a pain and I find it creates a lump where
you do not want one (if anywhere). That, plus the fact that linen does not slide into place easily. Some cotton threads have a lovely sheen on them and that is something you will never get with linen!

This linen thread is the “Fil de Lin” that I bought over 25 years ago on a 10000m cone, excellent quality. You are right Noelene tensioning is different but the result is crisp and firm. The only thread I have used in cotton that comes near this is the Finca thread. When I tried Linen thread in Bucks I really noticed the difference, much more care was needed, no wonder most Bucks is made with cotton.

The King Tut quilting thread is just lovely to work with and is so fine that the variegated colours work in beautifully.  It’s about equivalent to a Finca 60 or the old DMC Broder Machine 40 or Madeira Tanne/Cotona 50.  I measure it at 37 wpc.  But it’s incredibly strong, and the finished piece has a lovely sheen and feel to it.  It’s not sticky at all.

I have used waxed quilting thread for a couple of book marks and also for the wedding hankie I made for my DD1’s friend.  It was a little firmer, washes well and looks good for the bookmarks too.  It does tend to hold its shape really well.