Critique or comparison – Use of Merino wool, and wool blends

wool threads for needlepoint

Wool and wool blends - Is there anything like them.  We now offer 4 wool products in our shop:

  • Wiltex - Vineyard Merino wool;
  • Essentials - by Tilli Tomas (planet earth fibers) - a blend of equal parts merino wool & silk;
  • Glisten - by Rainbow Gallery - metalized polyester entwined with merino wool.

and of course

  • Planet Earth wool - for 10 - 13 mesh canvas.

But, how do you determine which merino product is best for your needlepoint.  Read on and we'll tell you how the threads compare, how we liked stitching with them, and the best places to use them. I used all 3 merino threads designated for 18 mesh my latest project.  You'll get a comparison and critique of all 3 thread types from moi - not exactly an expert, but I've been stitching for almost 50 years, and you'll see a few new stitches.

The Canvas:

House by the Lake by Steven KleinHouse by the Lake” by Steven Klein from the design house of JulieMar & Friends.

I chose “House by the Lake” because it has bright colors in well-defined areas.  I also chose the canvas because it is 6" x 6" on 18 mesh (also offered on 13 mesh) and I could finish stitching it for this newsletter -- well almost.  If interested, am preparing a stitch guide which will be available with the canvas.

Threads:  Vineyard Merino wool from Wiltex Threads

Vineyard merino wool by Wiltex

Merino wool from Wiltex Threads, called “vineyard merino”, has a beautiful texture. It is single ply and comes in skeins of 30 yards.  It is 100% merino wool, so it’s soft and fluffy. It comes in 260 colors, some of which are so similar you need to check to make sure you're using the right one.  If you enjoy the feel of wool when you stitch, this is the thread for you. It is thick enough to use on 13 mesh canvas if you prefer lighter cover.

Starfish by Kamala KL1104Starfish by KAMALA

If your preference is for a lighter cover, however, it’s not ideal for 18 mesh. We found it worked well on 18 mesh if you're using the tent stitch, horizontal or diagonal stitches.  But it was not ideal for small cross over stitches - those in tight spaces.  It made me feel as if I had decided to wear my prom dress - a bit too tight (well more than a bit).

Here’s where I used Vineland Merino:
Best places to use Vineyard Merino
The Merino wool worked best on the Leaf stitch and the X over 2.  It was a little bulky on the double stitch and the cross stitch.  But, I wanted a bushy look for those areas and felt the thread suited the design.  I tried doing a small box stitch with a French knot in the center, but the wool was too heavy on 18 mesh and I ripped it out.


Essentials by Tilli Tomas

Essentials by Tilli Tomas

Our favorite fiber to use on 13 mesh canvases is Planet Earth. The wool and silk Planet Earth threads are single ply, soft and easy to use. But, Planet Earth fibers are too thick to use on 18 mesh. Tilli Tomas has come out with a new fiber which is a blend of wool and silk that is lovely. (No I’m not British, but Lovely is the only way to describe this fiber!)

Essentials is a blend of equal parts merino wool and silk. The thread is single ply and comes on cards of 10 yard lengths. Essentials is soft, soft, soft and a bit thinner than the Wiltex merino. It has a slight shimmer so it looks more like silk than wool. Although ideal for the smaller mesh canvas – 16 or 18 mesh, it can be used on 13 mesh as well if you like light coverage. If you want one thread type on your canvas and can’t decide between wool & silk – this one’s ideal. If you like wool – the feel and texture – this is not the thread of choice.  Currently there are about 150 colors which I found a bit limiting (yes, we're spoiled by all the color choices offered by Planet Earth for their other lines).  We're hoping more colors will come out as they grow the line.

Here’s where I used Essentials and the stitches:
the best places to use Essentials by tilli tomas
Essentials worked best for the diagonal stitches, Patterned rows, Diagonal Mosaic (above).  It was especially good for the Star in the Windmill pattern (the long straight horizontal and vertical stitches were done using Vineyard Merino).  It also worked well on the Bargello pattern, although the coverage was a bit light.  I tried using it on the long horizontal stitches on the Windmill pattern, but since I changed up the color the coverage was not sufficient.  Fortunately, I had the Vineyard Merino color which I had used on the trees above.

Wiltex Merino & Essentials by TIlli Tomas – used together

I also used both threads together (no not literally) on the bright green hill behind the tall pines and the tree at the bottom right corner.  The hill is an open stitch with diagonal mosaic and double X.   I used Essentials on the Diagonal Mosaic stitch, Vineyard Merino on the double X. I enjoyed the combination. The colors are not identical and the texture just a bit different. The Merino wool was coarser, so it stood out a bit. It enabled me to give the hill dimension. (It looks like rows of planted vegetables or trees.)  It was used again on the windmill pattern at the bottom.  The combination worked well since the Merino was too thick for the Star and the Essentials too thin for the horizontal and vertical stitches.

If using two different thread types in a pattern – use the coarser one on the simpler, larger stitch.


Glisten by Rainbow Gallery:

Glisten by Rainbow Gallery

Glisten is one of the mixed threads offered by Rainbow Gallery. Glisten is 65% merino wool and 35% metalized polyester. (Of course it has merino wool – that’s why we chose it!) Glisten comes in cards of 12 yard lengths. It has 2 strands of the wool and 2 of the polyester. The wool strands are thinner than either the Essentials blend or the Vineyards wool. The cards tell you that the ideal size canvas for the thread is 16 to 18 mesh. I found it a bit thick for 18 mesh, but would use it on 13. Although technically a non-stranded fiber, if it appears too bulky for your canvas you can pull out one of the wool threads – just be very, very careful as it will interrupt the twist in the fibers.  If you're going to ply down the thread, cut short strands, 12" - 15" long. Glisten is fun to use in defined areas to add a little shimmer to your needlepoint.

Here’s where I used Glisten:
The best places to use Glisten
I wanted my water to shimmer, so Glisten was perfect. I also wanted very light coverage, so I carefully pulled out one of the wool threads.

That’s our take on the 3 threads: Vineyard merino by Wiltex Threads, Essentials by Tilli Tomas and Glisten by Rainbow Gallery. The stitch guide is available with purchase of the canvas “House by the Lake”.  Whichever thread you choose, Happy stitching!