How to pick a primitive palette

Have you been thinking about using silk threads for a sampler? It is a good choice; silk was the thread most often used in sampler stitching over the last few centuries. It is strong, easy to use, and has a beautiful sheen. 

Kreinik Silk Mori (a floss), Silk Serica (a pearl-cotton-size), and Silk Bella (a super-fine size) are three different weight, or sizes, of silk thread available from Kreinik. You can get them on standard sized spools or large cones/skeins. They come in more than 175 colors. 

To some, 175 colors may not sound like enough. To others, especially those just starting to use silk, it's overwhelming. No problem; here we will show you how to get started:

1. Pick a starter thread assortment like one of our Silk Home Decor Collections. You get a small collection of silk colors with minimal investment. The "antique" set is particularly synonymous with the primitive look, but you can also go with a brighter group if you prefer. Here are links to sets from which to pick:

2. Narrow the 175 down to primitive, shaker, antique, or "sampler" style colors (see the list below) Print a copy and take it to your favorite independent needlework store, or visit one of the many online shops that carry Kreinik Silk Threads. Look for "half-skeins", or 2.5-meter skeins to start your collection. Choose these colors in Silk Mori for cross stitch, applique, and hand embroidery, or Silk Serica for Hardanger, needlepoint and crazy quilting. Note: Silk Bella is perfect for small details in all techniques, but doesn't come in as large of a color range as Mori and Serica.

1093 Light Wood Violet
1094 Medium Wood Violet
1096 Dark Wood Violet
1098 Wood Rose
1119 Garnet
2014 Medium Gold
2016 Dark Gold
2017 Very Dark Gold
3063 Light Henna
3065 Dark Henna
4074 Medium Dusty Green
4076 Dark Dusty Green
4077 Very Dark Dusty Green
4203 Light Sage
4204 Medium Sage
4206 Dark Sage
4212 Lightest Avocado
4215 Medium Dark Avocado
4216 Dark Avocado
5057 Very Dark Slate Blue
5107 Very Dark Cerulean
6123 Light Dusty Lavender
6124 Medium Dusty Lavender
6216 Dark Dusty Lavender
6127 Very Dark Dusty Lavender
6204 Medium Dusty Plum
6205 Dark Dusty Plum
6207 Very Dark Dusty Plum
7012 Lightest Lead Grey
7014 Medium Lead Grey
7024 Antique Parchment
7025 Parchment
7086 Dark Straw
7087 Very Dark Straw
7126 Ecru
7134 Medium Bark
7135 Medium Dark Mocha
7136 Dark Mocha
7166 Dark Brown Black
7173 Light Honey
7174 Medium Honey
7175 Medium Dark Honey
7183 Light Sable
8050 Black
8075 Medium Dark Charcoal
8077 Very Dark Charcoal
8086 Dark Gray
All of the Milkpaint color range (the color numbers begin with "0")

3. Get a silk color card and use it to match silk colors to an antique sampler. Then once you have your list, you can order just what you need. Here is the link to the Kreinik Silk Thread color card, which has actual thread swatches.

Don't be intimidated by silk threads; stitchers have been using it successfully for centuries. Your fingers will be spoiled by its softness, your mind will be impressed at its strength and durability, and your eyes will delight at the beautiful, natural sheen. For the price of a small skein or spool of silk, it's worth a try.


Stitching tips from the experts: You

A stitcher posted a question about Blending Filament on our Facebook page recently, and the wonderful community of stitchers chimed in with helpful suggestions. Facebook is wonderful for sharing and discussing, and we welcome all comments and questions. Come on over to our page and "like" us at

Here are some of the tips in response to the question, "How do you keep a metallic from breaking?" It looks like the most important factors are: adjusting tension, using shorter lengths, and making sure you have the right needle. 

  • Shorter threads and larger eyed needle - don't pull too tight and slow down — Bev F.
  • Stitch slower, and use shorter threads. — Karen C.
  • Use a larger needle so that the thread won't get worn from rubbing on the ground fabric. — Beth V.
  • Definitely use shorter lengths! — Anita C.
  • Thread Heaven and short lengths. — Emily W.
  • I always use shorter strands and I lightly wet it with a sponge and that helps a lot. — Anne K.
  • Change your needle - your needle might have a burr in the eye that is wearing the metallic down and you might want to switch to a slightly larger needle - it'll make the hole bigger as you pass the thread through the fabric, making it easier for the metallic to pass through the fabric. — Erica K.
  • Use a wider eye needle this way there is no fraying as you pull it back and forth thru the fabric. — Denise S.
  • I have found using short lengths of thread helps out a lot with the breakage. Instead of Thread Heaven (I have never used it so I have no opinion on it), I just used a damp cloth to dampen the thread and it works wonderfully for me. Also, after every couple of stitches I let my needle and thread untwist by holding my fabric upside down and letting the needle and thread dangle on its own and it untwists for me. — Dawn T.
  • Short lengths, don't pull through the fabric too tight, and maybe a needle with a slightly wider eye…Be gentle and patient with it. — Steff W.
  • I use the Japanese needles with any of the metallic threads - the round eye helps with the fraying. Shorter lengths as previously said and keeping your fingers over the eye so the thread slips less. Then tension - then gentle but firm in your handling. — Robin B.
  • Continually twist your needle with each stitch as you go, which will keep it from twisting then breaking. One of my teachers said this is a Japanese embroidery technique. So, for each stitch or two, twist the needle in your fingers a rotation. Then as you go, in between stitches, keep twisting as you pull it out. You will find your thread rarely breaks if you do this. — Mary M.
  • Watch your tension - I've never had an issue with it breaking. Also use shorter lengths and Thread Heaven (thread conditioner). — Susanne C.
  • Use much shorter lengths to prevent so many twists and the wear and tear on the thread as you sew which can cause it to get caught. — Katrina S.
  • With the Blending Filament, I have found that using shorter lengths helps in keeping the filament strong. It means threading a needle a few more times, but the fewer passes through the fabric you make, the less tugging you are doing on the thread… — Carolyn M.
  • Thread Heaven, short lengths and let the thread "untwist" almost every stitch. — Judy K.
  • With Blending Filament, you can sometimes do all of the stitches without it and then just stitch the blending filament on top. Neat thing about that is that it really sparkles and it isn't twisted with the other thread. — Christine F.
For more about Blending Filament in particular, visit these pages:


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News direct from thread maker Kreinik Mfg. Co., Inc., located in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Visit our factory outlet store when you are in the area; call for hours 1-800-537-2166.

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