Wednesday, June 16

Choosing Cotton Thread for Crochet Jewelry

Four Mermaid Chains, four brands of crochet thread!
Top right and bottom left corner is #10 Opera thread.
See a lovely variegated #20 Lizbeth one.

I have a handsome stash of a fine quality cotton crochet thread called Opera, ranging in sizes from #5 (approaching "fingering" weight") to #30.

The larger the number, the thinner the thread. Size #30 might look like sewing thread to some folks compared to size #10, but sewing thread is closer to a size #100 or #120.

I use Opera crochet thread mostly for crocheting jewelry. The jewelry I've made with it stays looking great longer because of its high quality cotton fiber, the higher twist, and smooth finish.

Opera is made by Coats, though regrettably I must now say WAS made by Coats. (It's discontinued.) What to do?

I've been having great luck with a crochet thread called Lizbeth. While maybe nothing can replace Opera thread for me completely, the Lizbeth color choices are great fun! Best of all Lizbeth is a six-cord thread (see below).
From the Slider Charms Trio 
pattern set.

What I Look For in a Crochet Thread

I used Lizbeth Size #10 for the green & brown
Sweet Almonds Set
Especially for jewelry.
  1. The higher the amount of twist, the better. (Known as a hard twist.) It will stay looking new longer and will hold its shape well.
  2. The number of plies matters--the more, the better. Threadies will refer to a thread as a "3-cord" or a "6-cord". Perle cotton is a "2-cord" thread. I've seen 6-cord threads referred to as "cordonnet" and heirloom-quality. Generally speaking, 6-cord is great for jewelry--at least, the kind that I like to design. Opera is an extra nice 3-cord thread, so that's why I say generally speaking.
  3. The quality of the cotton used. One can't always tell by look and feel because the fibers can have finishes added that give it a smoother, denser, shinier look on the ball. After some use, a lower-quality thread will get fuzzy or hairy, indicating that cheaper, shorter fiber lengths were used.
  4. Pretty colors! (Some of the best threads have traditionally been available in only white, off-white, and black.)
The best crochet threads for jewelry seem to be imported. Although your local yarn shop likely has a good selection of imported yarns, very few yarn shops carry heirloom-quality crochet thread.

Where to find great thread for jewelry? A few years ago I wrote "mainly on the internet if you live in the USA", but today it's easy to find Lizbeth thread in craft stores too. 

Learn how & why I developed this stitch pattern
to do planned color pooling with Lizbeth thread.
Occasionally I see DMC Cordonnet (an excellent thread) in a craft chain store, but only in white in a size #50 or crazier thinner (for tatting). I wonder if it's easy to tint with dyes....