Thread Showdown: Kreinik vs. DMC Glow-in-the Dark
I see a lot of questions about glow-in-the-dark threads: how do I use it? Which thread is best? Glow-in-the-dark (GID) thread exists?! While the former question is one I will leave for another day, I decided to write a post that directly compared two GID threads that I know of: DMC and Kreinik. Both brands make metallic and GID threads. While I personally have always used Kreinik, I realized I could not pass judgment or provide recommendations without having used both and testing them as objectively as I can.
For the sake of clarity, these tests were performed with Kreinik 052F (Glow-in-the-Dark Grapefruit) #8 on 14ct Aida, as I consider these to be the "standard settings" of stitching. For DMC Light Effects, I used DMC E940 with two strands. I should also note that, as stated above, I almost exclusively have used Kreinik up until this point, and my Make Art Your Life pattern calls for 2 spools of their pink GID thread (there is no DMC equivalent to this thread, more on this later). I purchased all of the thread used for these reviews myself and neither DMC nor Kreinik contacted me regarding their products for this review. I also use beeswax when I stitch to condition my thread. For the sake of being able to provide an objective view, I completed this test stitching au natural without beeswax. Despite having used Kreinik before, I went into this with as open of a mind as I could. The goal is to be able to recommend one over the other objectively and provide you a good review of both threads separately while coming to a conclusion on which is better at the end. To put them to the test, I designed a cross stitch pattern because who wants to test on a boring old swatch? The pattern will be available for download for free at the end of this article.
Price is a practical consideration; thread and materials for any piece an quickly add up. Gathering supplies for any stitch is step #1. So let's be rational buyers and do a quick price comparison.
Kreinik thread can be purchased in local needle stores (LNS) or on their website. Personally, I tend to purchase them either through my LNS for$3.55/spool or 123stitch.com for $3.21/spool + shipping. The thread we'll be using for these tests is available for $3.79/spool when purchasing directly through Kreinik. I go with 123stitch.com if I'm purchasing a lot at once, as shipping spread over multiple spools can make this a less expensive option and I won't have to walk anywhere. When you purchase Kreinik #8, you get 10 meters (11 yards). Keep in mind with Kreinik you only need to use one strand, so you theoretically could get 11 yards' worth of stitching out of the spool.
Price: 29¢ - 32¢/yard + tax.
DMC Light Effects
DMC Light Effects can also be purchased the DMC Website for $2.45/skein or local craft stores. My local craft store, A.C. Moore, had DMC Light Effects for $2.29/skein. For this price, you get 8.7 yards. Keep in mind that when working with DMC Light Effects, you typically use 2 strands to stitch and get 6 strands, which means 26.1 yards maximum of stitching out of each skein.
Price: .04¢ - .05¢/yard + tax (calculated with 8.7 yards)/.08 - .09¢¢ (calculated with 26.1 yards to account for six strands).
Winner: DMC Light Effects
CORRECTIONS CORNER: Clearly math is not my forte! As Magical in the comments below so kindly pointed out, my original math for this section was wrong, as I had forgotten to calculate DMC Light Effects' price using six strands. Oy! So... the winner for this category is actually DMC Light Effects.
Here's what Magical said: You do indeed typically use 2 strands but DMC light effects is made up of 6 strands so in reality you would use 1/3 of the section you cut off the skein so you get 3 lots of 2 strands x 8.7 yards = 26.1 yards of stitching from a skein.
This section discusses how each thread felt to use, its ease of use, and how well it held up in the stitching process. To test this, I wanted to be sure to use both side by side but didn't want to stitch a boring old swatch. So... I whipped up a little pattern that is also free to download at the end of the article. I wanted to operationalize criteria for this category, but honestly DMC GID and Kreinik GID are just VERY different.
I was nervous about stitching with the Kreinik without beeswax, as that's what I've used for so long. The Kreinik thread has a very different feel from DMC Light Effects. For one, you only use one strand of it, as it's considered a braid. This makes working with Kreinik very sturdy, though you'll have to forego the loop method.
There was a decent amount of fraying with the Kreinik, and I forgot it frayed so much after having used beeswax for so long. The key here is a small tail - anything after the eye of your needle is going to fray significantly and make re-threading a pain. While stitching, the Kreinik does not glide through the Aida very smoothly and you will notice an audible difference when you pull the thread through the Aida. Being so sturdy though, it holds up nicely.
It was pretty easy to get the stitches to look consistent while stitching. The braid stayed together pretty well and I didn't have to work hard to prevent strays from coming through the Aida, which would have been especially noticeable on the black. Securing threads on the back is a bit more difficult because the braid is less forgiving than regular DMC, but it's do-able and will be fine once secured. Stitching with Kreinik is definitely different from stitching with regular DMC, but it's a difference you can get used to. I'd also argue it's a difference worth the look (more on that later).
As for knotting, it will be present in the Kreinik thread. I tend to avoid that by stitching with shorter strands, but it can slow you down while stitching. I never had a knot that I couldn't easily get rid of, but it's still annoying to have to deal with.
I was actually really surprised by the DMC GID thread. I had heard pretty abysmal reviews of their light effects in general and had expected the GID thread to be virtually unusable, especially considering I wasn't going to be stitching with beeswax. When I first started stitching, I enjoyed the feel more than I thought I would. It's a lot more cottony or fluffy to work with and is what I imagine stitching with spider web is like. The strands themselves are a bit thicker because they fluff out.
However, I did notice while working that the thread felt delicate and like I was stitching on pins and needles. If my thread accidentally became unthreaded from the needle, re-threading was kind of an ordeal because the ends frayed like crazy. The thread also has a sort of elastic feeling. While this was fun to start with, its novelty quickly wore off and I found myself wishing it was sturdier. By stitching the "HE" of the pattern I was able to immediately compare back to regular DMC. This made me realize just how different the light effects thread was and it was quite the relief to get back to regular DMC. My stitching was also slowed down using the DMC GID. The strands within the main strand would separate, so it became difficult to stitch evenly. This was frustrating while I was using it - more on this when we get to the Look comparison down below.
As far as knotting goes, I didn't really notice any. This could be because I was using shorter strands than usual, but that was a pleasant surprise! The thread glided through the Aida smoothly and without much force. I was also able to anchor the threads with ease to fasten the ends.
The verdict? This was a close call as neither was idea, but I'm going to have to go with Kreinik in the Feel category. The novelty of the elastic DMC GID wears off quickly once I realize how slowly I have to stitch out of fear that it would snap or fall apart. The Kreinik is also a lot more consistent and allowed for faster stitching without warping the stitches. Though it knotted more than the DMC, its hardiness was worth it.
This is not a completely fair comparison. Kreinik offers their GID thread in a variety of colors, including white (as seen here), green, yellow, orange, and pink. They used to have a gorgeous blue as well as a purple, but alas, they were discontinued and as far as I know don't have any plans to replace them (a moment of silence, please). For the sake of comparison, I'll focus mostly on their white GID thread which they've called Grapefruit, but you can see a really great image of the different GID effects in this piece by 8.bit.stitch (the kit for which is available here - it even lets you get your hands on that coveted blue GID).
I've used their Grapefruit before but the thread that I used for this experiment is from a different dye lot and appears ever-so-slightly green even in the light. If I was looking for pure white, this would be a negative, and Kreinik also recommends purchasing multiple spools at once for a project as dye lots can differ. You can see the difference is even more pronounced when compared to DMC BLANC. Despite this, I love how vibrant the Kreinik is! The sturdiness from the braid makes it stand out more. The stitches were very consistent and even the back stitching turned out to be nice and crisp. You will get a more raised stitch with the Kreinik because it is braided, but it makes for an interesting texture. Overall, I was pleased with it for this stitch.
With the lights off, the Kreinik is amazing. If you're working in a well-lit area or with a lamp, you'll notice a slight glow just from turning the lamp off with light still around. Wow! I like to charge my piece up with the light on my cell phone before turning the lights off, and you can see for yourself just how vibrant and beautiful it is. You can see it from across the room with no problem.
Overall, the look of the DMC was just... dull. I expected more contrast especially when compared to the black Aida. The benefit of the DMC was that it matches the white non-GID thread perfectly, so it makes secret hidden messages like the one in my pattern easier to show up without giving it away in the light.
Probably my biggest issue with the DMC GID was the fact that I had to work so hard to get stitches to look consistent. This drove me crazy and sometimes became so impossible as portions of the thread would pull through in the middle of the strand (as pictured). Perhaps this was due to the fluffy/elastic texture, but I was not impressed. Also, the back stitching just looks horrendous on the DMC in my opinion. It was really hard to get a nice, crisp line while back stitching with it.
With the lights off, the DMC glows fine. It shows up. To be fair, it shows up a bit better than what was pictured but it's not as pronounced as I expected.
Despite Kreinik's dye lot differences and slight difference from DMC BLANC, what really won me over on the Kreinik was its consistent look coupled with the fact that I didn't have to work nearly as hard as I did with the DMC to achieve consistency. Not only that, but Kreinik comes in a variety of colors that makes it even more appealing and versatile. To achieve the comparison in the glow-in-the-dark picture, I charged each photo up with my cell phone light, which is why both look kind of streaky. With the same light exposure, Kreinik just blows the DMC out of the park with the lights off.
Kreinik was the clear winner here for me. DMC Light Effects is far more cost effective and the feel of the thread comes down to personal preference. I really tried to give these threads a fair comparison, and while Kreinik won each category keep in mind that it still has its own flaws. To combat them, I recommend stitching with beeswax at your side, which reduces fraying and helps the thread glide more smoothly through the Aida. If you have experiences with either Kreinik or DMC, feel free to weigh in in the comments below. And if you're thinking of trying both for yourself, you can stitch the pattern that I created yourself by downloading it for free here! It's a very quick stitch (only a few hours). To create the hidden message, I stitched the "HE" in "heart" with regular DMC BLANC. Don't forget to share your work with #FreudianStitch on Instagram!