I am fairly certain that DMC uses reactive dyes for their threads, because it is highly permanent and lightfast; as an advantage for those who are concerned it's also environmentally friendly, almost all colours having NO heavy metals, and a very few colours have a small amount of metals.
I am fairly certain that it would be safe to put threads out for birds to use as nesting materials in spring. I find it is just too much a hassle to compost anyway, I have never really found that thread breaks down that easily, maybe because the critters and bugs that process compost find that orange peels are far tastier than thread from which nutrients have basically been stripped.
One strand, always just one; unless I am padding an area to be covered over, then two, but only for the padding, then I finish with one strand. It makes a highly polished, skillfully worked look. More than one strand just seems sloppy in appearance to me, and considering the extra work it would take to get more than one strand to lie smoothly and evenly (enough for my tastes) doesn't save any time due to the thread being thicker. Now if I wanted something to have heavier thread for whatever reason, I would move up to thicker threads, which I hear are harder to come across in the States but I gather pearl cotton is available, and I know there are silk embroidery threads available in the States.
I admit I am persnicketty about it, however my interest lies in achieving the quality of Madeira or the embroidery houses of royal/impirial France. (Haha someday, though I feel that I am well on my way)
There is a reason that things haven't changed so much, it's because when you get it right it doesn't need to be sorted. Hoops are only meant to be a transportable frame for stitching, for those stitchers on the go. Any serious stitcher in days gone by would have had (and current stitchers should have) a stand to hold their hoops, scrollframes, stretcher bars or their slate frames. These stands can be on the floor or lap, etc. At the very least your frame should be propped up on something. "Snuggling in the couch" sounds like it might not be good for your spine over extended periods, it doesn't make sense to trade one injury for another. LOL I feel like I'm lecturing but that is not my intent. The above posters have the right idea, take care of yourself and let your hands rest sometimes, like any muscle or joint, those in your hands do get tired; if pushed too hard they inflame and then it is only just a stone's throw from real injury.
Also, on a less health related note. If you un-hoop your project each time you put it away you won't get the hoop ring effect, it is pretty well impossible to iron out because the fibres get all stretched and wonky. Alternately you could switch to stretcherbars or scrollframes. Stretcherbars are probably the cheaper of the two (I did recently pick up a scrollframe for about $20 though), you can get them at art supply stores they are used to stretch canvas for painters. You can set them up and tack your fabric in place on the selvage or excess around the outside of your project.
I too am passionate aboute needlework and play the piano, I have also had to find ways to work that have less impact on my body.
Awesome, you pulled this of fantastically, I especially love his face. I would like to point out you might want to be careful of snagging some of the satin stitch around our inquisitors shoulders; the stitches there are fairly long in comparison, satin stitch is excellent over smaller areas, the longer the stitch the more likely it is to roll or get caught on something. Your satin stitch is beautifully done though, it is very even and your lettering is very tidy. Being that this is your second embroidery, you are already well on your way.
Yeah you absolutely can embroider one stitch over another kind of stitch. What I would suggest you do would be to cross stitch the whole background without the words then couch some threads over to make the letters, that way the fairly open even weave of Aida cloth will not cause difficulty with other forms of surface embroidery, as it would with a split stitch. Couching thread is really simple, basically you have your a thread on top of your material (3-6 strands of floss maybe?) and you stitch over it at intervals with a finer thread (sewing thread or maybe 1 strand of floss) in the same colour to form the shape you desire, then you "plunge" the ends of the thicker thread to the bottom side of the fabric, that is at the start and end of your letters. Tie everything off, rinse, repeat, admire your handiwork.
I hope this explanation is clear enough, I am sure that you can find instructions on how to couch threads on the vast interwebs.
I squealed when I saw this; the second I saw Lowly worm I was done in, and when I saw Huckle- well my husband had to come see what the commotion was about, even the cat got off his "feed-me-now stool" to find out what was going on. I'm definately inspired now. I'm thinking up a bajillion nostalgic projects that I can't wait to get started on<3
For some reason I was giving this further thought today and I figured I would elaborate here on my prev opinions. Excuse me for beating a dead horse, if you will.
So here's what I was thinking today. Pretend we're not talking about embroidery, say we're talking about painting. There is traditional painting, and there is digital painting. Of course it should be obvious that when creating your own traditional painting it requires both the techniques of rendering and the ability to create something new. In traditional painting, there is a practice called Master Studies, whereby one copies the work of a master artist as a way to learn skills, techniques, etc. Effort and ability is required to recreate what had been created before, you can take the end work and say, "look at what I was able to accomplish".
When you do your digital paints you are creating a work of art, then you can go and print it off. Getting to that end point of making that print takes skill and talent, but you can't take sed print and say that you are skilled traditionally(though digital artists often are). Fair enough, creating art is challenging regardless of the medium. Now say someone else was to find that digital painting online and they print it off on their home printer, they can't claim either skill in the making of the print, or in the creation of the digital work. There is in effect no creativity required. Machine embroidery is like using a printer in its most basic regards. The designer is creating something, not embroidery but a design that is going to be rendered into embroidery; the simple user is just printing out the work of someone else to have something pretty.