Most of us are self taught in the needle arts. That is, we saw a kit in a big box store, liked it, bought it, brought it home and struggled through it. Some of us struggled more than others! But some of us thought, this is easy, and continued on. If you were taught by your grandmother or mother, chances are they were self-taught as well, so a lot of the tips and suggestions we pick up in classes were not a part of your initial instruction.
For instance, stranding threads. The instructions said to use 3 strands, so we separated 3 strands, usually all at once, and wound up with a huge knot as the strands would not come apart.
This is a much easier way – tap the cut end of the floss (this works for silk, cotton and rayon flosses) until you see some separation of the strands. Grasp 1 strand with your thumb and forefinger, and slide the remaining strands down the cut length. Do this as many times as needed to get the number of strands you need to stitch with. Then recombine the strands and thread the needle.
Take it a step further and reverse the direction of the strands before recombining. Say you’re stitching with 3 strands. Remove 1 strand and lay it aside. Remove the second strand and lay it aside. Remove the third strand, but this time flip it before recombining it with the other 2 strands. I think you’ll find that the strands lay apart better and are easier to lay.
Why is this? Here’s my very non-technical answer: the strands are pretty tightly twisted together to form the skein. The strands want to stay tightly twisted together, not lay apart. Flipping 1 strand forces the strands to stand apart from each other, since the twist is not the same.
Using a loop start does this same thing, reversing the twist of the threads. I usually find that loop start threads lay a little better that regular recombined threads.
Of course flipping and loop starting won’t work with over dyed threads, unless you want a heathered look. But try it with other stranded flosses to see if you like the result and it makes your stitching a bit easier.