Making thread lengths from a skein

It is essential to be patient once you handle a new skein of thread. The manufacturer has been to pains to help keep things neat and sensible. If you take short cuts you may put yourself into the danger of a huge tangle which will, later, cost a lot of time, and maybe even result in a waste of material as you give up untyimng knots and throw it out. It does not take long to do all this, preferably as soon as your thread is delivered. It will take longer to follow through these notes than it will to tackle your skein.

If there is a main tie around the whole bundle remove it, or cut it. Your bundle will probably look like this. Sometimes a small bag serves to keep it together.

When bundling the thread up the manufacturer started with a large continuous loop. The ends of this loop were held in two hands, which were then brought together, so that the bundle was half the original length. This was repeated again. The two sides of the loop are usually twisted into a slight spiral. This helps to stop threads of straying from the main bulk. The half and half action results in a loose clump, as shown above.

Your aim is to revers that process. Open out the clump by finding two ends and gently separating them, doubling their distance apart. Check, every time, that the loop remains neat, with no mislaid threads. Gently coax the various bundles apart. A flat surface to work on is a great help.

Do not be tempted start your sewing by looking for an end. Unnraveling it may well give you something to press on with. The price may well be high. Everything has been bundled together, and removing bits now and again will not be helpful. The photo, above, shows one of the ends, inviting you to tug it out and start sewing. As you undo the first loop you will see that one end has the two loops that will later form the next two ends.

In the picture above the upper loop is about to be held in the left hand. As it is being held push a finger through the loop to keep the threads apart. The lower loop of the picture will be spread out to the right. Let it all rest on the desk top. Bring the right hand over to join the finger of the left hand and use a finger of the right hand to gently make the final untwist. If you have treated the whole thing gently, with no forcing, this should be easy to do. This particular manufacturer has tied the bunches of thread together. You can see the small knots. They can be cut away eventually, but leave them for as long as possible.

Eventually you will be able to put one loop over some suitable hook. Here it is a nearby window handle. Stretch out the other end. All the threads should remain neatly bundled together

If you want a ball of thread then now is the time to make it [see xxxx]. If, as is likely with anyone sewing with a needle (such as a bookbinder) the thread will be need in cut lengths. (Further notes on this are at xxxxx.) The length is determined by the manufacturer. If the lengths are not suitable then a ball will have to be made, (or purchase a spool next time!)

Tie all the threads together with a tight knot of some sort. In the picture below it has been done just below one of the manufacturer's figure of eight ties. Then cut through all the threads.

Straighten out the threads and hang them on the back of the workshop door, or in the cloakroom, or anywhere that gives a large enough drop. Pull out a thread whenever one is requred for use. The knot you tied will get loose as you do this and will have to be tightened, or retied. not pull a thread out, just snip one out of the bundle below the knot.

Or...dip all the threads into some glue and leave to dry.

The knot can stay, since with waxed thread there is a chance that the glue may not stick perfectly to each thread.

Snip each thread as it is required.

If there is not space to hang the threads, then adopt the method of making skeins, as briefly described above, using your bundle of cut lengths. Half, twist, have again, twist, clump. (More detail, with illustrations, at XXXXX).

If the loose threads are going to be moved around with drafts or passers-by then it is a good idea to very loosely plait them and put a rubber band round the bottom to stop the plait unravelling.

Or...thread them through a length of suitable pipe. This will keep them clean as well as tidy.




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