An Experimental Seahorse

Small Seahorse in overdyed filament silk

Small Seahorse in overdyed filament silk

Sometimes I play with threads for no other reason than to play with them. In this case Stef Francis gave me a skein of overdyed filament silk to play with. She tends to create a much more “freeform” style of embroidery than I do and she wanted to know what I thought of the thread.

I found a simple transfer that offered scope for several different stitches, and started playing. I had been concerned that it might twist up when I didn’t want it to, but it stayed fairly flat most of the time, and it is noticeable that the stitches look and feel different in a flat thread, as compared with a round one.

For example, in a round thread, the stem stitch line tends to be more textured, and the direction of slant is more obvious. Here, the slight flatness creates a smoother line. That same flatness makes the satin stitch smoother and cleaner looking. It also helps to mask any slight imperfections in the stitching!

On the other hand, that same slight “spread” of the filaments clouds the distinctiveness of the Wheatear Stitch in the fin on his back, so not an unalloyed success, but interesting and worth trying all the same.

Silk Filament Experiments

Silk Filament Experiments

Then I started just to play with stitches in a spare corner of fabric. The Braid Stitch (top row) works quite nicely, I think, and the Turkey work (bottom right hand corner) is better than I hoped, especially considering that I’ve not done it before. I can’t imagine what I would use that texture for in these colours, but Stef has a fabulous range of overdyed shades and I am sure that something would spring to mind for one of them. The little triangle of Closed Herringbone Stitch is hardly a success, but that may be a problem of scale. I don’t think the Braid Stitch would have worked if it had been any wider than it is here.

I don’t think this thread adds anything to the Reverse Chain Stitch, or to the Spider’s Web Wheel, but I do like the Chained Feather Stitch couching. In fact, that might have been better had I had the courage of my convictions and made the base that’s being couched about twice the width.

All in all, I had a lot of fun playing with this thread. I’ve now got a much better idea of What To  Do and more importantly What Not To Do with it. One important thing to remember  –  make sure hands are smooth! Silk catches on everything and filament silk does so even more!


  1. I agree about silk thread catching, especially the flat thread without a high twist.

  2. karen says:

    yep, silk thread is a nightmare if you have the slightest bit of dry skin! I love these though and I adore Stef francis threads too.

  3. Lady Fi says:

    What a delightful seahorse… it’s rainbow-coloured!

  4. Stef Francis threads are among my favourites too, along with Oliver Twists. It’s really interesting to see the different effects and to compare the qualities of round/flat threads.

  5. Elmsley Rose says:

    Your comments re round vs flat threads were most interesting! Eager to hear any more on the subject…..

    I said “Awwwwww” when I saw the Seahorse. Does he have a name? I think you should give him a name. He’s so sweet!

  6. Janice says:

    You know Stef Francis and she just gave you the thread…?! (Dear Stef, I love your threads too…!) In fairness, I wouldn’t put them through the trials you’ve just put them through. I would probably just sit and look at them! And maybe rub them gently against my face. Silk threads brushing the face is a wonderful experience. Hmmm… probably having quite got the hang of this embroidery thing…