Unlike in modern embroidery, most Nuosu women must make their own embroidery floss from regular thread. Using spindles and whorls, they carefully twist lengths of thread into twined floss of the desired thickness. They then either stitch the thread directly into the base cloth, or delicately couch the floss with tiny stitches. With these techniques, the Nuosu are able to create scenes that evoke the landscape in which they live—magnificent mountains where herb and flower filled meadows are dotted amongst the forests.
However, the Nuosu have taken their love of bright colors and their skill in stitchery and adapted more modern materials into traditional items. Alongside felted wool vests with all hand-twined and stitched embroidery can be found jackets made out of velveteen, with factory-made ribbons and trim gaily sewn using a treadle sewing machine like our Grandmothers used. Additionally, cooperatives have been established where young Nuosu women are encouraged to use their embroidery techniques to create purses, pillows, and other items that are decorated in modern interpretations of traditional Nuosu designs.
Because these are handmade items, they should be spot cleaned with cold water, or gently hand-washed with cold water and a delicate detergent (Woolite, for example).