Linen Threads

Linen is from the flax plant which has a long stem and light blue flower. In the spring, the seeds are planted and grow to maturity to about 3 feet tall. Through a series of processing, the stocks become long fibers ready to be spun into lovely threads for the needle artist.  


Because of the nature of linen thread, it can be uneven in diameter. Also, natural color of linen is a light to medium brown. DMC has a lovely line of linen thread in pastel shades.   The thread is strong but will wear out in the eye of the needle. You may wish to have a short tail hanging from the eye.


I will take a little time to explain the size coding. The lower the number, the larger the thread will be. For example, Rainbow Linen is size 16/2. This means, the linen thread size is 16 and the second number indicates the number of plies which is 2. (You cannot separate the plies and stitch. The thread will be too weak.)

The Threads

Backgrounds Natural Flax: A heavy, thick, 3-ply thread by Rainbow Gallery. Backgrounds has a hemp or rope feeling to it. You may think of rigging on ships or sail boats when you see the appearance of this thread. You will want to stitch Backgrounds on size 12/1 -14/1 needlepoint canvas. For smaller canvas, try couching the thread. Be creative in anchoring the tails. Also, the thread has a tendency to untwist when you are stitching. All you will need to do is twirl the needle in your hand to maintain the correct twist.  Also, the thread may want to knot. Again, twirl the needle between your fingers and thumb to correct the problem. To prevent fraying at the needle’s eye, try using a slightly larger needle than required.

     Uses: Rope, mountains, rocks, sand, tree trunks, dirt, “nature” things

Backgrounds Natural Linen: This thread is similar to Backgrounds Natural Flax with the exception, Natural Linen is much finer. The canvas count for this thread is 18/1. The thread may become untwisted. Just readjust the twist as you are stitching. Also, the thread can kink and knot easily.

     Uses: Rocks, mountains, sand, tree trunks, dirt, fields and samplers

Flax & Colors:  You can find this wonderful thread size 20/2 in a 30 yard skein and 16/2 in 20 yards per skein. The color range is very large and soft.   Flax’ n Colors is by The Thread Gatherer.

     Uses: Rocks, clothes, tree trunks, fields, sand, dirt, mountains and samplers

Linen Embroidery Floss: This thread is by DMC and comes in 6 strand colorfast thread that is divisible. The colors are in a range of natural and pastel shades. DMC had discontinued their linen line. You may find it in some stores as a close out. Note: if you do purchase some, buy the quantity you will need. You will not be able to acquire any more.

     Uses: Rocks, clothes, sand, dirt, tree trunks, fields, mountains and samplers

Olde Willow:  The linen threads are 6 strand, 2-ply thread which comes in an array of lovely colors. Olde Willow linen threads may be stitched in the same manner as embroidery floss.  

     Uses: Rocks, clothes, tree trunks, fields, sand, dirt, mountains, samplers and endless possibilities

Rainbow Linen:  This is a fine linen thread which can be strand in the needle to fit any stitch or canvas size you wish. (Not suitable for very fine petit point.) It is very strong can comes in a wide range of colors.  You may want to use a smaller length of thread in the needle so the thread will not become dull before you have finished the length when stitching. This thread is by Rainbow Gallery.

     Uses: Rocks, clothes, tree trunks, fields, dirt, mountains, sand and samplers