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This was part of a recent discussion on the SRESafeHaven mailing list at Yahoo Groups.  It has been reprinted her with Vikki's explicit consent.   Click on the photo to see a larger version.

No. 5 pearl cotton just means that it's 5/2 mercerized cotton, usually gassed. (I couldn't find a legal definition for pearl cotton but I'd have to say that it is always mercerized and often gassed). So it's 2 strands of #5 cotton that has been run through a chemical process to add sheen and strength and then sometimes run through a flame to burn off the fuzzies that all cotton has.  (Extrapolate this through #8 and #12 pearl cotton).

Twist makes a lot of difference. Tightly twisted yarn looks thinner than less tightly twisted yarn. That's why different manufacturers pearl cotton will look like it's slightly different sizes. But it all conforms to the 2100 yards per pound designation or it can't be 5/2 or #5 pearl.

For silk - there is no number/number designation technically for reeled silk in the count system. It's denier silk but that confuses consumers who really only know about 1000 denier when you start labeling your silk threads with denier designations. So many manufacturers call it pearl or perle and give it a cotton count number that's about the same size. This gives people a frame of reference. It's a - what's the word I'm looking for Rissa? - convention maybe?? 

In silks, only spun silk has a technical number/number definition like cotton (cause of course they're both spun). For stitchers though the floss nomenclature is a convention in both cotton and silk and they don't really use any other spun silks for stitching.....

Vikki
http://www.hand-dyedfibers.com

(Edited for style only.)

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Last edited: 12/28/2003