Online Sources for Whitework Supplies in Canada
Posted by Claire on Oct 11 2016, in Embroidery
Over the summer, I started another embroidery course through the EAC. My first experience with EAC correspondence courses was pretty underwhelming (see this post and this post for my review of my experience with the Beginners Crewel course). But I won’t deny that my stitching improved and I learned a lot about working with crewel wools. In fact, my biggest beef was with the course *design*, not the actual stitching.
My samples are off being evaluated by my course counsellor right now – when I get them back, I’ll be sure and take pictures so you can see what I’ve done so far. But a big part of my reasoning for taking the crewel course in the first place was because it was a prerequisite to the course I was really interested in: the Intermediate Whitework course. So earlier this year, when I saw that the EAC offered a scholarship that covered the cost of enrollment, I threw my hat in the ring. I learned over the summer that I was one of five EAC members to receive a Pauline Glover Educational Grant this year, which will cover my enrollment and my binder review. So with that in mind, my first stop was to start gathering my supplies.
Thread shopping. What a hardship! said no stitcher ever. Hee, hee.
I thought you might find it helpful if I detailed where I sourced my various materials, threads and tools from. Of course, I could order a lot of this from the States but with the dollar the way it is right now, and the sometimes stupid shipping rates, I really try and support Canadian businesses whenever possible. No duty, cheaper shipping, no credit card exchange fees. Win, win, win.
First stop was of course my own supplies and I gathered together all of the threads and fabrics already in my stash that would work for whitework. I’ve already got lots of white linen, white batiste and white handkerchief linen, so I haven’t had to shell out for those. The only thing I will have to order is the cotton jean fabric when I come to the unit on Montmellick embroidery. It’s a specialty fabric and something I definitely can’t get locally. I plan on ordering it from Tanja Berlin in Alberta – she’s a wonderful embroidery resource for fine needlework, including thread painting, blackwork, goldwork and Mountmellick, among other pretty things.
One of things I found as I was sourcing the various specialty threads and materials I needed was that it can be quite tricky to locate these. Shops have them classified every which way and the websites are very rarely optimized for search engines, which means they get overlooked. It’s also hard to restrict your search to specific countries. So I took a little time out from my dissertation writing (oh, the endless dissertation!) to cshare my findings with you in the hopes that it will help cut down your own search times.
None of the sites I’m reviewing and suggesting here have paid me or given me any sort of compensation; my views are my own, based on my experiences with them, and offered in the hope that you’ll find them helpful.
Michelle’s shop is my go-to source for needlework supplies. I’ve shopped with her for years. She use to have a lovely storefront on Upper James here in Hamilton but has since shifted to an e-commerce only model. I miss the shop but still love Michelle’s service. She carries a wide range of threads, the website is easy to use and the shipping is very reasonable and super quick (although, that’s not a big surprise since we’re located in the same city). I ordered all of the Appleton wools for my crewel course from her last year and I ordered my skeins of No. 16 and No 25 white and ecru coton à broder this time. She also carries some smocking resources like patterns and dots.
This is a true thread lovers paradise, located in Quebec. I’d never ordered from L’Atelier online before but I have bought from them when they were at the Creative Festival in Toronto and when they attended the EAC’s Seminar in Kingston a number of years back. She carries the widest range of threads of any needlework shop that I’ve found in Canada, including supplies for goldwork and silk threads and more. A dangerous place for your credit card, in other words.
The most exciting discovery was the fact that she carries coton à broder in sizes from 12 to 35!! and offers it in 80 different DMC colours. Finding it was a bit of trick though. English stitchers call this thread coton à broder; but in French, it’s called it Broder Spécial. So if you were googling the former, you wouldn’t find it. La grande solitude apparently extends to stitching?! This is the only needlework shop in Canada that I could find that offered coton à broder in these sizes and in colour. I went a little nuts!
This is a shop also based in Quebec. The site is in French, with an option for English. This was my first time shopping here and I was pleased. On the surface, the website looks like its geared to lacemakers, not embroiderers, and they certainly have a huge range of threads and tools for that. But she also offers some really hard to find books on regional and ethnic needlework traditions, like Hedebo, and many of the threads work equally well for tatting, crochet and surface embroidery. If I ever want to make coloured tatting, this is where I’ll go first, in fact. I’d never heard of some of the threads she carries – DMC Tobino? Venus? Lizbeth? – so I ordered several spools, just to to play. I’ll let you know how they pan out. The order interface is not the greatest, I’ll admit (you have to send an email and type in your selections and there’s no ‘basket’ function, so it’s clunky) but the shipping was prompt and everything was very nicely packaged.
This Belgian site has the finest whitework threads currently available on the market. She carries white floche in sizes 60, 80 and 120. To put that in context, DMC and Anchor’s floche are both sz 16, or slightly thinner than one strand of No. 25 coton à broder. This is the only international source I used while I was sourcing my threads. The threads she sells just aren’t available *anywhere* else that I’ve found and I’m really looking forward to trying them out. The site is in French, so if you don’t read it, you’ll need google translate. Definitely check out her kits and her gallery of work is well worth a drool. The standard of work is really inspiring.
Finally, I treated myself to a new set of tools from the in the United Kingdom. All of the tools are of the highest quality (seriously, they feel incredible. They’re the nicest needlework tools I’ve every owned!!). I got the Beginner’s Needlelace tool set, which comes with two sizes of ring sticks, a lifting stick (although I still don’t know what I’m supposed to lift with it?), a lovely stiletto and a superfine crochet hook. There are a variety of tools for stumpwork, needlelace and more and the Guild sells them to help offset their costs. Worth every penny!