Updated August 25, 2020.
One thing I love about hand-dyed and overdyed threads is that I can use many colors without having to change threads. One thing I hate about these threads is that if you use Basketweave it is difficult to avoid those ugly diagonal lines of color.
One solution I use for this problem is a technique I call clumping, which is a not too exciting name for a great way to use hand-dyes and overdyes. Areas done in clumping are done in two passes, the first pass is easiest to do in Continental, while the second pass can be done in Basketweave or Continental.
This post shows you how to do clumping step-by-step. I have used shades of overdye with dramatic color changes for demonstration purposes. Your results will be better when the overdye is more subtle, as is the case with the pictures of two of my projects, one above and one at the end of the article.
Begin by threading up and starting to stitch in about the middle of the area, above top. Stitch in a small irregular clump (hence the name) but ONLY until the color of the thread changes. When this happens, move your needle a bit and make another clump, above center. The clumps shouldn’t be more than five stitches wide and high, although this size will depend on how quickly the colors change. The edges of the clumps should be uneven on all sides, so it’s OK to skip stitches, even within the clumps, above bottom.
Continue to do this until at least two-thirds of the area has clumps, above top. Clumps can be next to each other, above center, which is especially nice to create larger clumps of the same color. Or they can be separated by several stitches, above bottom.
For the second step, begin in the upper left or lower right corner of the area and fill in all the open stitches. above. Because you are using the same overdye, sometimes these stitches will fill out the clumps, sometimes the color will be different, but that’s part of the fun.
The two samples above and at the top of the srticle show areas of clumping as used in actual designs. The top sample uses Madras from Needle Necessities (no longer made) to depict distant crop-covered hills. The bottom sample uses Gloriana Silk in a stained glass design to mimic the effect of Tiffany art glass. The canvas at the beginning of the article used Shaded Very Velvet to stitch the trees.