Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sulking or Sulky-ing

Here is the latest design I've created. I tried an experiment with a new kind of thread (new for me, at least) so I thought I'd share my thoughts on it.

Pepper Tree
The thread used was Sulky cotton thread in 12 wt., important to differentiate because it also comes in a 30 weight which is geared mainly for machine sewing. For cross stitch and other hand work, you use one ply of this 12 wt. for nice coverage on 28 to 32 count linen over two threads. I'm curious to put my hands on some of the finer weight and try it on higher count linen.
Sulky Blendables Thread
The Blendables line comes in 126 colors. There are 66 solid colors also. The dyeing on the Blendables is really quite different than any of the other variegated threads I've used, in that the color blocks are only 2 to 5" each, and they repeat in a random order. So, you only get four or six stitches before the color changes, but the colors go together nicely and have a bit of transition between them. Here is a zoom where you can see the individual stitches.  Note the coverage and the crispness.


  • Using a single strand - cut and go. No time stripping plies or uneven ends as you work.
  • This stuff is strong. You can thread a length as long as your arm and it will not fray or break.
  • It did not tie itself into knots as I stitched, although I did find I needed to give the needle a little twist periodically to keep it well behaved.
  • Spool has a snap end that anchors the thread so it doesn't unwind. Very easy to keep tidy.
  • Stitches stay very crisp and distinct - this stuff is like tiny cord. People actually love it for tatting! It does not flatten out. See picture above.
  • Dyes did not bleed at all during damp pressing. No crocking or color transfer during work. I expect these colors are here to stay.
  • Beautiful colors. Note not all of them will work well for cross stitch. Pick one where there is not a huge variation between the darkest and lightest shades, or your work will look too blotchy to see the pattern.


  • Only 14 of 126 colors come in the small "Petites" spool size (50 yards versus 330 yards.) This could easily change if the company finds a good market for the smaller quantities. Doing some math, 50 yards of 1-ply does the work of about 16 yards of 6-ply DMC used 2 strands at a time. That is to say one Petite spool is just under 2 DMC skeins. A big spool is 12 or 13 DMCs worth, which is enough for a big piece like Cirque des Coeurs or Woodland Vines.
  • Popular in quilt shops, but only slowly finding it's way into cross stitch shops. One of the big company mandates is that it will NEVER be in the chain stores, so don't even look in JoAnns. Or so they say - a google search shows you can buy it at Kmart.
  • Impossible to guess how much is left on the partially used spool.
  • "Sulky" means morose, bad-tempered, and resentful. How did they pick that as a good name?
My recommendation - pick some up and give it a try. It's fairly inexpensive and seems to work up quickly, giving a nice finished product. And for anyone interested in this chart, I'll have it at the Celebrations of Needlework in St. Charles Mo later this week. Shops will be able to order it at the Online Needlework Show in October.

Oh, yeah - edited to add this. I created this simple mini spool holder/thread dispenser to attach to my magnet board that worked just great. It's a short length of DMC memory thread, a metal washer, and a tiny very strong magnet.
Make a spool holder!


  1. This is just really beautiful and it looks like it would be fun stitching someting like this with that thread just to see how is looks with all of the gorgeous colors. I love this and as always your design is beautiful too. I love the hand dyed ric rac around it too. It really adds so much. I want to try some of this thread. Your designs are perfect for this!!

  2. I will give it a go... thanks for the pro/con list...I will see fi I can find some online too

  3. I've been meaning to try Sulky. Thanks for being my "guinea pig";)

  4. I have stitched with the bigger spools (I did a JBW and a Lizzie Kate with them). That is all I can get in my area so didn't know there was smaller ones. I am thinking of
    using it with my triangles. I just have to find the right colour and then do it... just too many WIPs already in the bag at the moment LOL

  5. Thanks for the critique Tracy. I am going to see if I can track soe down over here in Aussie.

  6. my first thought when seeing the word "sulky" is the horse-drawn carridge, but then, I have been called wierd before :-)

  7. I've been using this thread in a AAN design and I love it. I wish it was easier to get hold of in the UK (any retailers reading this that stock it, feel free to drop me a line!).

    Thank you for a wonderful critique!

  8. Thanks for this tip! For those in Europe, this is G├╝termann Sulky Cotton 12, I am going to find me a big spool for Cirque des Cercles.

  9. I tracked this down finally and have started one of our Attractive Opposites designs with it. I love it! Thanks so much for posting :)

  10. Neat I'll be looking for some i the future to try!

  11. Thanks for posting this critique for us. I love the idea of only using 1 strand to achieve the coverage of 2 strands. I've Google searched and find the blendables are available at Joann's and Walmart. Don't know about the solid colors.