It’s easy to forget that other folks besides needlepointers use thread and that many of the threads they use will work beautifully for needlepoint.
Everything from hand-sewing to knitting can yield wonderful threads for us to explore. A really fruitful area for exploration is the world of folk art and crazy quilts. More than traditional block-based quilts, these rely on decorative stitching for many of their effects.
Hand-in-hand with stitches are interesting threads.
Recently I came across Sue Spargo a folk art quilt artist who has an on-line shop selling threads and other supplies. While some of her threads, from The Thread Gatherer, are familiar to us, she also has several lines of unusual threads.
The first one I tried was her dala #5 pearl cotton. These threads are exclusive to her and are dyed by her daughter. They are 100% mercerized cotton in 25-yard skeins. Currently 17 colors are available directly from her. Most of the colors are different values of the same color, some subtle and some bold. It was used to stitch the teal building on the left in the canvas above.
The base thread is a single-strand cotton pearl that’s slightly different than the same thread from major manufacturers. It is slightly thinner and more matte than DMC or Anchor pearl. In most applications this difference will not be noticeable unless you put the two next to each other.
This particular shade was one of the most subtle variations and the model bears this out. You can see more variation than the solid Pebbly Perle used on the other two buildings, but less than on the Soy Lustre used for the sky. You can also see how all three threads have a similar amount of shine, one that is more matte than DMC or Anchor.
Even though the variation is subtle, it can clearly be seen. You will need to treat this thread as an overdye and not stitch it in Basketweave. Even in the darning pattern you can see stripes of the lighter value. These problems would be magnified with colors that had more variation or colors.
I loved this thread. While I have no problems with #5 pearl on 18-mesh canvas, I really liked the way this thinner thread nestled down into the canvas in the darning pattern. The coverage was as good as DMC #5 pearl while having a lighter feel.
With only 16 colors in the thread, you will find green the most popular color (6 shades). There are three shades of blue, 4 red/pinks, 2 oranges, and one each of several other colors. Most of the shades are either semi-solids, variegated (one color but more variation in value) or analogous color schemes. Only two of the colors are multi-color.
This thread is sold directly by the maker and is $7.50 for a 25-yard skein. That makes the per yard price $.30. To compare DMC solid colors are under 7 cents a yard and weeks perle is $.35 per yard.
With a price in line with other hand-dyed pearl cottons and a lovely hand, dala pearl cotton is worth seeking out.