Dealing with the Golden Acorn

Silver Braid Stitch

Silver Braid Stitch

You last saw the Golden Acorn in July, when I was thoroughly fed up with it.

Since I’d got so engrossed in stitching that I’d neglected to pay attention to the details and had to unpick the lot, when I came to re-stitch I decided to put in the braid stitch in silver first.

I found the silver to be a more temperamental thread than the gold, although structurally it was exactly the same. However, these threads are all made more or less by hand, and must be hugely susceptible to temperature and humidity.

I know from my textile technology studies that natural fibres – such as cotton, wool, and silk – are susceptible to environmental conditions, because the basis for the success of the Lancashire cotton industry was due in no small part to the fact that ideal conditions for growing cotton are far from ideal for turning the cotton into cloth. In fact, nowadays, textile factories are built with climate control, because the speed of modern production demands that all possible variables be thoroughly ironed out.

In the same way, if you visit a woollen mill, you will see piles of wool at various stages of production, just sitting there. If you are a time-and-motion person you’ll get very uptight about this, and talk about “Just In Time” manufacturing – only to be told, in no uncertain terms, that if you want to pay for all the failed batches that will result from not allowing the wool to relax (technical term – yes, honestly) between processes, you’re welcome, but the manager won’t let it out of the factory with their name on it.

The silver and gold threads we are using have natural fibre cores, so sensitivity to climate is only to be expected!

Second Time Lucky

Second Time Lucky

I found both of the two main stitches in the strapwork, Ceylon stitch and Braid Stitch, rather troublesome in metal thread, although Braid Stitch in pearl cotton  is one of my favourites. There’s no denying that they produce a rich and exotic effect once they are in place, though!

I became slightly fed up with tent stitch – there was such a lot of it! – while I was working this, so I’ve been giving myself some time away from it. I’ll get started on the next one of these when I feel ready for fine tent stitch again.

I’m also waiting until all three are stitched before I decide which to finish to create which stitching accessory. If I recall correctly, there’s a scissors keep, a needlecase, and a pincushion. I suspect they’ll end up in that famous Winter Decoration Corner I keep threatening to do!


  1. Very interesting, thanks!

    Best not send Sir to one of these woollen mills then. As a former Lean Manufacturing consultant, he’d find it hard to get his head around!!=)

  2. ladyfi says:

    A lot of hard work has paid off. Tis lovely!

  3. coral-seas says:

    It looks really good now. I am pleased that you went back to it. I rather enjoyed doing braid stitch with the metal threads but found Cylon stitch a lot more challenging. I have not started any of the ornaments and may never get around to them 🙂

  4. Jules says:

    Leaving it and re-visiting now has obviously paid off!:)

  5. Penny says:

    That braid stitch just looks so intricate and difficult. I rather like the thought of wool sitting around ‘awaiting’ its turn in the process. Slow cloth work sort of ‘requires’ that pieces and parts are allowed to ‘sit’ until they or the stitcher is ready.

  6. Carolyn says:

    It is a lovely piece and as an Textiles and Design teacher I can related to all that technical information. It is something I hammer away at in my classes, although I have to resort to all kinds of stunts to keep that glazed eyes look appearing in students eyes. Glad to see you saw the relivance of it from your studies.

  7. karen says:

    it’s good when we leave something and then go back successfully!

  8. As always I love your work. Living in Hawick, I should know all about woollen mills …… although there are only a few left now.

  9. Susan says:

    I enjoyed the lesson on natural fibers. Glad you finally conquered your acorn. It looks lovely. I’m wondering what you’re making for this year’s Christmas card?

  10. Jan says:

    The gold and silver stitches look just stunning. Time away from a frustrating project has done wonders for you. It’s just gorgeous!

  11. Sandy says:

    I always knew there was a sound scientific reason for allowing one’s project stash to sit and percolate!
    This has turned out to be a very handsome project.

  12. Anita says:

    Thanks for sharing these great info about the natural fibers. It’s a lovely project and I totally agree with you about tent stitch filling especially with a medium or dark shade thread.Braid stitch in silver looks gorgeous!

  13. MeganH says:

    I’ve been wanting to do this project since I saw you start it…even more inspired now. Especially now I’m getting the hang of fine tent stitch 🙂 It looks lovely! Thanks for the info on the natural fibre centres.