For those who love hand made lace.
Thread size numbers can be very confusing. Crochet is usually worked on a relatively coarse scale compared to traditional bobbin lace or needle lace. Crochet cotton 30 is a little thicker than a pearl 12. But machine threads 30 and 50 are much finer, and comparable to the sizes of quilting threads. So here are some equivalents (or similars) that I use. Each line are rough equivalents, coarsest first. A is coarsest, E finest.
A: crochet cotton #30, DMC Cebelia #30, Anchor or DMC Cordonnet #30, Fresia linen 30/2
B: crochet cotton cordonnet #40 DMC or Anchor, pearl 12, Sulky 12, Aurifil 12, Bockens linen 35/2
B+1/2: crochet cotton #60, Bockens linen 50/2, Moravia linen 40/2
C: Cordonnet 80 (tatting cotton), Fresia linen 80/2, Egyptian cotton 40/3, Brok cotton 36/3
D: Aurifil 28, Sulky 30, DMC Retors 30 or Broder machine 30, Brok 36/2, linen 100/2, Madeira Tanne 30
E: Aurifil 50, Sulky quilting cotton 50, DMC Retors 50 or Broder machine 50, Bockens linen 90/2, Fresia linen 120/2, Egyptian or Brok cotton 60/2, Brok 100/3, Madeira Tanne 50
Not everybody will agree with my equivalents in all the details. But these are equivalences that I use in bobbin lace. The Aurifil and Sulky threads are quilting threads and are beautiful with lots of colors. The Madeira Tanne is no longer manufactured, but some of us have it on hand. Lizbeth Cordonnet numbers seem to be comparable to DMC and Anchor (I only have #20 and it matches DMC 20).
Just to supply a frame of reference. You will notice that the numbers in each general category are all over the place.
The B category has 40, 12, and 35/2. How can they be equal? (or at least roughly so). The short answer is that the numbers refer to the amount of thread that can be produced from a certain weight of fiber. So smaller threads have larger numbers because you can get more small thread from a given weight of fiber than a larger thread. Small threads have less fiber in them, large threads have more fiber in them. Then cotton and linen use completely different weights of fiber and different lengths. Even so, a cotton thread of the same number as a linen thread is usually about half as big as the linen thread, because of those differences in measurements.
Also, a lot of threads that were never intended for lacemaking, per se, are also measured differently. Pearl cotton, for instance is an embroidery thread with 2 large plies and very little twist.
Finally, there is the issue of the number of plies in a thread. Beginners often use tatting cotton size 80. Tatting cotton is a 6 ply thread. So there are 6 plies of size 80 in the thread. It comes in a lot of colors and a six ply thread doesn't break very easily. This is good for beginners.
Sewing threads have 2 or 3 plies generally (there are ALWAYS exceptions) and most ordinary sewing thread is size 50 made of 2 plies. Some quilting cottons are 40/3, meaning there are 3 plies of size 40. 40 is a smaller number than 50 and the number of plies lets you calculate roughly how equal they might be. Just do the math implied by 40/3 or 50/2.
40 divided by 3 approximately 13
50 divided by 2 = 25
This tells you that 40/3 is roughly twice as large as 50/2.
The finishing and amount of twist in thread also influences how they behave. So ioli's list is a very good basis for beginning. Some people just like more detail or want to know why???
There is a new rational sizing system that is slowly gaining traction. It is called TEX and it is a direct measurement system meaning that a thread with a larger number is larger than a thread with a smaller number. Someday all this complicated measurement stuff will be ancient history, but it isn't yet.
Patty: good discussion.
I am completely confused by thread numbers and I wonder if anyone can help with this question. I want to make a Torchon square mat from 'Torchon Lace for Today' by Jennifer Fisher (p53) which is on a grid of 10sq to 25mm. She says to use 'No. 50 linen lace thread or equivalent'.
What would be a modern equivalent? Is Bockens linen 50/2 a 50 weight linen thread? If it is, then I have DMC Cordonnet 100 which is equivalent.
We all have problems with this. Even when 2 threads have the same number, differences in spinning may make for small differences in diameter. The ultimate solution is Brenda Paternoster's book. A search on her name will point you to her website. Most bobbin lace suppliers will carry her book, I think.
Bockens 50/2 would probably work. Their threads are spun a little more tightly than most, making their #50/2 slightly thinner than the average. For DMC Cordonnet, I would go with #50 or #60. Their #100 will be too thin.
In general, with threads, the larger the number, the finer the thread. This is because the numbers ultimately refer to how many yards or meters make up a pound or a kilogram of thread. The more yards, the higher the number, the thinner the thread.
Also, this group has links to some resources. Look for all the red words. They are links.
I am always confused by thread numbers, but know the higher the number, the finer the thread. Patty you describe what is what so clearly - Thank you for making sense of it all!
I wonder how we survived before Brenda brought out her magical little book!!!!!!!! :)
Well, I did a 'swatch' (I'm also a knitter!) by doing a bit of half stitch trail in three different thread weights. It was a bit of a faff winding six pairs of bobbins for each swatch but worth doing. I've decided on the DMC Cordonnet 100 which doesn't look too different from the picture in the book, perhaps a bit thinner but not markedly so. So now I've wound my 34 pairs of bobbins and I'm underway. Thanks for all the advice!
Here is another way of assessing and changing thread and pattern sizes.