Changing dyelots in needlepoint thread, can be a real problem. While it’s relatively easy to deal with them when using solid colored threads (see the page on changing dyelots) They can be a real pain when using overdyes such as Watercolours.
I’ve done pieces, before I knew this trick, where the change was so apparent I threw out the piece. With many types of needlepoint thread, there isn’t much you can do, but with Caron Collection Threads there is help, sitting right on the tag. This trick works for all of this company’s hand-dyed threads.
I started to discover the trick when I noticed something about my favorite color, Tahiti. I called them “good Tahiti” and “bad Tahiti.” The good color had a nice even blend of all the colors of the rainbow. The bad color had lots of lime and chartruse. It’s nothing against those colors, it’s just that I don’t use them much. I bought good Tahiti whenever I could find it and mixed skeins with ease.
Then on a trip I found another Tahiti, which tended toward red. I liked it even more and bought it and brought it home. I noticed something about the dyelots — they began with different initials.
That how I learned the secret. Every skein in all Caron Collection multi-colored threads has a dyelot number in the same format.
First are some letters. These are the initials of the dyer. This is the most important thing to match. Each dyer creates the color mix differently but is consistent from batch to batch. So AA might dye red-white-green with lots of white, while ZZ might dye the same sequence with lots of red.
Dyelots from different people probably won’t coordinate.
The second three numbers are the color number, so they create a nice reference for you if you are looking to match. Needless to say they should always match.
The rest of the number is the day and month the thread was dyed. So 1205 was dyed December 5, while 1215 was dyed on the 15. Thanks to my friend Jan who owns Needle Nest in Indiana for telling me this.
This is less important, but because changes in water can affect dye, the closer these two numbers are the better. Although without the year, you don’t actually know if they were dyed the same year.
Knowing this trick has saved me from countless needlepoint thread disasters and I hope it will save you too.
Do you have have more needlepoint thread than you need? You aren’t alone. That stockpile of thread is called your “stash.” Some people, like me, have enough stash to keep me stitching forever. Other people buy thread only or the current project and have small stashes of odds and ends of thread.
But there are great ways to build your thread stash quickly and often inexpensively. That way you have those little bits of thread you need to stitch a bit on a project or, if you are lucky, you have enough to stitch an entire project from stash. I’ve done many of these and often they turn out more fun than they would if you had bought the thread from scratch.
1. Save the ends of your thread from other projects. Sometimes this is only a little, sometimes it’s lots, but it’s good to have that little bit of red for a pair of lips instead of buying a whole new skein.
2. Take advantage of sales which come your way.
Does your guild chapter have an auction? Stock up on thread there.
Is your local shop closing out a thread? Buy lots so you have some stock of your own.
Does the local thrift shop have some threads? Buy them. I am making a Maggie Co piece with over 50 colors and half of them are from a thrift store pile I bought a couple of years ago.
3. Do you see a thread you like or a new needlepoint thread? Instead of buying randomly (which I used to do most of the time), now I try to buy threads in colors I’m going to use often. Maybe you stitch lots of Christmas canvas, then buy red and green, or your house has lots of blue, then buy blue. This gives you thread you are going to use more quickly.
If you are thinking about buying larger quantities, go for good background colors. Even if you end up making stripes because you bought two dyelots, you have used some of your stash.
I call the whole process “shop the stash first” and now (but then my stash is really huge) most of my projects use stash threads, either completely or partially. And looking at my threads often inspires new projects. In fact I’m planning a small piece now which is based on a Watercolours I bought because it was pretty. All the other threads are from my stash.
It’s like having a shop in my studio. If you follow these ideas you’ll have your own shop of needlepoint thread as well.