HNW - Drawn Thread

John Ordway ordway at
Thu Oct 30 19:31:23 PST 1997

Hello all -- I'm new to this list and have just had the time to read vol. 7-10 in my digest forms.  If there is any way to get archives -- I'd love to know.

I'm an American in Russia; my husband is at the US Embassy here.  I'm taking drawn thread work lessons from a Russian teacher -- two lessons in one, you might say -- sewing and Russian, too. 

 I started drawn thread work last year with a group of other international women -- basically, the teacher starts you out with a sampler that takes about a year.
The linen here is excellent when you can find it, and she starts with hemming the piece, then pulling threads for needleweaving, and then off to learn different ways to do the work -- each little section taking about a month.  Needless to say, I'm only 3/4 the way through last year's project.  <g> I am just about finished with a "towel" though -- all in white.  The sampler is done in different colored floss as one needs to see one's mistakes, which as we all know, we can't when we use all white or all black.

There is no book for the course -- it's all in her head.  Or rather it's from what SHE was taught from -- a Russian translation of the famous  (DMC) Therese de Dillmont's book on needlework.  I've just now this summer found the English reprint in the States for a grand total of about $15 ... after having spent a fortune at Bette Feinstein's Hard to Find Needlework Books looking for stuff on drawn thread (found two excellent DMC books specifically for drawn thread -- old, engraved "pictures", and well worth the money).  I also have the book in Russian  -- a wonderful gift from the teacher.  I also found the book that LACIS puts out -- looks like it was all written about the same time -- late 1800s.

I also had a wonderfully romantic idea that what I did would be from "all" Russian materials.  Not a chance at the moment -- i.e. -- there is no white cotton sewing thread -- what there is is imported from Turkey.  I think that formerly the cotton thread came from Uzbekistan, and now that pipeline isn't working <g>,  I use a good US lap stand quilting hoop, Mettler 40/3 quilting cotton for thread, German manicure/curved scissors,  DMC floss and ...oh, yes, these wonderful Russian sewing pins.

These pins give me great pleasure because they are so hard to find.  They are probably from the Victorian era -- they look like a small flat loop that is not totally closed on top of a pin.  They are sharp, and lie flat, and are a dream to use for needlework.  The Russian think I am crazy -- why would I want those old things when I could buy imported pins with those fancy colored tops (and also which aren't very sharp).  And where do we find these pins?  In the sewing sections?  Of course not -- they are metal, right?  So they are with "metal things" in the stationary section -- with thumb tacks, paper clips and the like.
Oh, and the price is right -- about a $1 for a box of 1,000  (the price has even gone up in the past few months).

The teacher is loathe to admit that what we are doing is not "all Russian" but obviously it is not.  I don't see much of it done nowadays outside of Russian except on Irish tablecloths.  Here it is done mostly for tablecloths in factories that churn the stuff out.  I do own some "modern" pieces and the teacher has fun pointing out how badly (ahem) that it was done in the factory and how much better I could do it by hand ....  I also quilt, but don't have much time for that at all.

If anyone else is doing drawn thread work, please speak up -- I don't want to hog all this space again. <gg>.  Can we gabber on and on or are we supposed to e-mail people privately?

Maryjo Ordway
Moscow, Russia


To be removed from the Historic Needlework mailing list, please send a
message to Majordomo at Ansteorra.ORG with the message body of "unsubscribe

More information about the H-needlework mailing list