Updated December 1, 2020.
If it even happens once, it’s too often — you’re running out of thread and you can’t find a dyelot to match. With so many of us stitching from stash, we encounter this problem more often.
What do you do? Cut everything out and start over? Pretend not to notice?
I’ve done both of these things and, to be quite honest, they are not the best solutions. The keys to making dyelot changes work are either to make them unnoticeable or to make them look planned.
Here are some of my favorite ideas for mixing dyelots.
I’ve had this problem many times and found it easiest to do one of several things. I’ve been burned by this so many times that now I build in these solutions whenever I know I will be using more than one package of thread. You can see an example of how I do this in the Golden Gate ornament. It turned out there was no background difference, but if there had been, there would have been no problem.
If you suspect this will happen and it is the background, make it look planned by creating a striped background, alternating the two dyelots. It’s a very subtle effect that looks chic, like a damask fabric. The picture above shows a project halfway through this process with the first color’s stripes done.
Using a textured stitch, especially if it alternates directions, adds to the effect.
If it turns out that the dyelots match, you still have a cool texture and, if you alternate direction, and a ‘feel’ of different colors.
Mix Areas of the Colors
If the areas in this color are divided into discrete areas (such as the sky between fence posts), scatter one dyelot throughout the area and then fill in with the second dyelot. Your eye won’t see the same dyelot repeated in any pattern, so your brain will blend the two lots.
Why These Idsas Work
These ideas work because our brains want to see patterns and will take any excuse to find one. By deliberately creating stripes, you take this tendency and make it work in your favor by repeating the stripes so the color change doesn’t stand out as it would if you just changed dyelots.
It works in the second case because by scattering the areas around; your eye cannot create a pattern.
But sometimes you cannot do either of these and you must blend. Suppose you are using a stranded thread, blend the old color into the new by replacing one strand at a time, along the area’s length. Gradually replace one strand at a time until you are only stitching with the new dyelot. The stripes with dark pink on the bottom of this kimono use this method of shading. This is the traditional way to handle dyelot changes; you’ll find this suggested in many vintage needlepoint books.
If it is a single-strand thread, you will need to scatter stitches of the old dyelot over a wide area, thinning them out as you get further away. Never have more than 3 stitches of the minority color in a row (it forms a pattern & draws attention to itself.) The stripe with dark pink on top use this method of shading.
The principle behind these two techniques is that being presented with multiple colors constantly changing and close together, your eye mixes them, a process called ”optical blending.”
If you want to learn more about shading, I have some other resources for you. To learn needleblending, try my Iris Trivet class from Art Needlepoint. Try several shafing techniques in my Basic Shading class (available here). Lots of other techniques for shading that can also be applied to different dyelots are in my Shading book (available here).