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....


  1. Great post!! I have been searching for advice on this topic for days as I am just getting into crochet thread jewelry! Thanks much!

  2. Thanks so much. This is a great aid. I wish you would create an online jewelry course for people who can't make it to your live ones. Your analytical approach to crochet is fascinating and helps everything make sense.

  3. Thank you Tara and Carol!
    Carol, I'm developing crochet classes that are easy for more people to access at their leisure instead of attending conferences. Especially for crochet jewelry - so much in that topic!

  4. I recently discovered Lizbeth thread too...oh so nice. As my stash gets depleted I will be switching over to Lizbeth- so many colors!

  5. I would like to make my crochet necklace a bit stiff but still pliable...any suggestions? Thanks

    1. I guess it's a personal matter how much "a bit stiff" is, but here's good rule of thumb: the more twist a thread has, the stiffer it will be, as well as more durable. Pliability of a highly twisted thread can be increased by the fiber choice; for example, a highly twisted silk or rayon thread will be more pliable than a highly twisted cotton thread. Both will be kind of springy or wiry.

      You can use certain design strategies to control the amount of stiff to pliable qualities. With a limp thread, use a smaller crochet hook size for tighter stitches, and with stiff thread loosen up your stitch gauge a bit. And, some crochet stitches and stitch combos are more innately stiff/dense vs. limp/draping.

  6. How does cotton wear compared to silk? Can't find a silk cord for pearls on a spool big enough. And how do you thread through the hole in the pearl?

    1. I'm not sure, firstex. I haven't tested them in the form of beaded crochet jewelry in side by side comparisons over a long period of time. I also have trouble finding a good range of silk threads to match the range of cotton threads I have access to.

      Another factor is that you specifically mention pearl beads, and they seem to be notorious for having tiny holes with particularly rough rims that can fray thread. Silk is known for its strength, and IIRC is the traditional choice for pearl stringing, but I don't have enough experience with bead stringing cords (as opposed to crochet threads) to know if the silk needs to be coated, have a special type of plying, etc.

      I'm sorry I can't help you!

  7. I enjoy working with DMC Cebelia. It's lustrous, very smooth and even and and almost silky in appearance. I think it is worth every penny. One thread I will never recommend is South Maid. I do so want to support American manufacturers, but this thread is just an abomination to work with. It's stiff, splitty and irregular. Thank goodness I was really just experimenting on a recent project, but I won't be giving the bracelet I made in South Maid to anyone, even if the color was nice. You can't feel a thread when it's wrapped in plastic and it "looks" ok on the ball.

    I can't find #10 Lizbeth in local stores, but I see it's available on line.


On-topic questions are welcome!