Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Flower Power

Do you remember the very first thread that you used for cross stitch? A lot of you are going to answer DMC, or maybe Coats & Clark (Anchor,) both of which have been the big players in the market with over two centuries of thread spinning history.

I've been happy this week to reunite with one of the first flosses that I encountered as a little girl.  As it turns out, they not only are still making it but have added some new colors.  In the early 70's my Mum ran a little shop out of our house that sold imported Scandinavian & Icelandic knitting wool and Danish embroidery kits.  I cut my teeth on Eva Rosenstand and Danish Handcraft Guild (or as they call themselves, Haandarbejdets Fremme) pieces.

My Danish Flower Thread stash (228 was a popular color!)

Bit of trivia for you - "Eva Rosenstand" is really a dude. He used a fictional first name and his Mum's maiden name because (assumedly, and probably correctly) he felt a female's name would sell the product better. Whatever thread Eva Rosenstand kits use, it is really nice. I still have wads of it left over from kits that I use for small random (non-commercial) projects. It is a 6-ply cotton that shines, feels, and works up similarly to DMC.

This other stuff, the Danish Flower Thread - totally different and beautiful animal, and is the subject of today's post. It makes no attempts to be like DMC, although DMC had a brief foray into trying to have a product like this Flower Thread (I still have a full set of DMC's version relegated to the "discontinued - don't use for new designs" box.) Flower Thread is not shiny - it is soft and matte. It is non-divisible, just thread your needle and go. It's coverage is roughly the same as using 2 plies of DMC, so it works as-is on fabric counts of 28 to 32 (over 2.) I can't visualize this stitched on anything but plain (not over-dyed) linen. The natural linen pairs so well and keeps the simple, clean look. The colors are soft and even and very relatable to the original design subject matters and dyeing materials: flowers and plants! And, I'm not sure how to put this, the colors seem more sophisticated than DMC colors - they have more depth.

And they don't immediately lend themselves to grading out into color families the way DMC does, with lights and darks and steps perfectly spaced in between. With the Flower Thread, you might find a nice green and see a few shades that are lighter green, but one has a hint more yellow and the other a hint more gray. The names and numbers give no clues as to how shading might play out. If you've played around on a computer and generated colors using the HSV model (Hue, Saturation, and Value) you would recognized DMC families as exercises in sliding the value knob up and down. Flower Thread colors are more complex and richer and families occur using a CYMK dart board. This makes it more challenging a design effort, but more rewarding a result. Danish designs have a very clean style, and these colors just sing. Have a look at some pieces by Gerda Bengtsson, the Grand Dame of the guild, if you are unfamiliar with the style.

I was so happy to hear from my friend Marty, owner of Danish Needlework, on the subject. Her store is one of the few places where you can find the original Danish Flower Thread in the states. If you need something, it's probably best to call her - the website for the store is a little, ahem, underdeveloped at present.  But her review of the flower thread is spot on.

It's worth trying to put your hands on some. Perhaps with Marty's help I can introduce a new design with a kit option. I'm also wondering how well it would play together with Caron Threads's Wildflowers.



  1. Fascinating. These threads are really beautiful.

  2. Awww sweet memories! Remember the year you cleaned up at the fair with
    Gerda Benson's patterns and the flower thread?

  3. Caron Threads were the first threads I found and stitched with - wonderful! Then I moved to DMC, tried Anchor, found the quality poor and moved back to DMC. Love silk mori but can't afford it (yet!)

  4. "CMYK dartboard." I love it! I'll have to try some of this to see how it works on canvas. It may not, but I've got to try, right?

  5. I saw the book and had a "oh gosh!" moment when I realised that somebody had the same strange book I picked up in a charity shop. Mine's in German.

  6. Please let me know Marty"s store address or phone number or web address. thank you