Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 35: beaded thread counter

This beaded thread counter is the last accessory that I need to make as part of the set of sewing accessories that will go inside the box designed by Carolyn Pearce, and described in her book ‘Home Sweet Home: an embroidered workbox’.

It is an unusual accessory, and not one that I have come across before. I debated whether to bother making it or not, but for the sake of completeness, I thought I’d have a go, as it doesn’t take long.

It consists of two small tapestry needles, attached to fine cords, with a tassel on the end. It is used to work out the fabric count of an evenweave fabric, by inserting one needle in the fabric, and then counting the threads for an inch (which then tells you the tpi – or threads per inch). Or, if you need to count across a large gap of fabric from one area of stitching to another when you’re working from a chart, you can use the two needles to mark your place before actually starting to stitch.

I started by making a fine cord from two lengths of two strands of Anchor stranded cotton, and sliding a size 28 tapestry needle up to the centre of the length before I starting twisting it, so that the needle, when the cord was doubled back on itself, would be held at the end of the cord. Then I made a second one in the same way. These two cords were then knotted together, about 8 inches away from the needles.

Counter 1

I made the tassel by winding three metres of Anchor stranded cotton in the same shade as the cord around a piece of thick cardboard two inches high, and cut the threads along the bottom edge of card, giving me lots of pieces all the same length.

Counter 2

Then I laid the knotted cords along the cut lengths, with the knot just to the left of the centre…..

Counter 3

….and tied strong quilting thread around the centre of the bundle of short lengths and the cords, just to the right of the knots, to trap them inside the tassel.

Counter 4

Then I folded the lengths over in the middle, enclosing the knots of the cords, spreading out the threads to make a nice round head for the tassel. I used a bag tie to hold the tassel threads down while I tied the head of the tassel with more of the quilting thread.

Counter 5

Lastly, I trimmed the ends of the tassel with large cutting out shears, to get a nice tidy end to the tassel.

In her book, Carolyn suggests that you then work detached buttonhole stitch in fine gold thread over the head of the tassel, but I couldn’t be bothered with that bit. I just wound Kreinik very fine gold braid around the neck of the tassel, sinking the ends down into the centre to hide them, and hiding the green quilting thread as I did so.

Then I threaded some beads onto both of the needles, so that they slid down to the head of the tassel. To keep them in place, after the final bead had been threaded on, I knotted the two cords tight up against the final bead.

Counter 6

It might not end up being the most used piece of equipment in my sewing box, but I like how it’s come out. The beads finish if off nicely, I think.

Counter 7

That’s the last accessory completed!


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15 thoughts on “Carolyn Pearce Home Sweet Home workbox 35: beaded thread counter”

  1. Does it not have a holder in which to keep it? I would have thought that there’d be something to keep the needles from jabbing you. I think this thread counter is a neat idea and it has certainly come out looking very pretty.

    1. No, it doesn’t, and I was quite surprised at that, too. I think I’ll keep it with the needles poked into the emery block, to keep the tips of the needles from sticking into me by mistake. Or I might make some kind of needlebook-thingy to keep them in.

    1. Hi Pam, Yes, I’ll be making the actual box next. I started on the ‘smalls’ as the box itself seemed too daunting, and I thought that if I started with the smaller items I’d get the hang of the stitches and style of the piece before doing the box.

  2. I’ve not heard of one of these before either, but when you think about it, it would have been a useful tool in the days before the availability of lots of previous counted fabrics available. I’m looking forward to seeing everything in its box when it’s finished.

  3. I have made a single needle tool, threaded and strung with beads, as a “frogging” tool, but I did this with a larger tapestry needle. I love the idea of the thin cord and tassel!

  4. That’s an interesting tool. I’d not heard of it before, but thinking about it I am often using several needles to count my way across a blank stretch of fabric, so I can see it would come in handy. I did read there might be another reprint of this book, so I will be keeping an eye out for that. Really enjoying this series and looking forward to following your progress with the box! 🙂

      1. Some good news … I just received the Inspirations newsletter and they say that due to the terrific interest in Home Sweet Home, they’re hoping to have it reprinted and back in stock by July, along with The Embroiderer’s Handbook. Keeping an eye out for updates! 🙂

  5. Thanks for explaining what this tool was for. I have the pattern for the work box and am so glad you are making it and all the “smalls”. I’m looking forward to seeing your box.

  6. What an interesting tool! Like others I haven’t heard of one before! You have finished it beautifully and I love the beads! I do think I would be keeping it somewhere out if harms way – I know I would have my fingers if it was in the box without some protection! I look forward to watching you make the cottage

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