Overdyed threads are often touted by their fans as being the answer to so many of our needlepoint problems. And the promise and lure of them is irresistible. For years I would buy a new overdyed thread the way some people would buy a new lipstick — just to be a pick-me-up. Unhappily the problems began when I started stitching with them.
I’d find funny colors in the sequence that I couldn’t use. I’d get weird diagonal lines. I’d find long runs of colors I could not identify. And more problems I can’t remember at the moment. Ultimately I made my peace with overdyes and hand-dyes and now I use them more than any other kind of thread. I’d like to share with you how to combine these threads with solids for a great look.
Combining the Threads
My current project is the mitten pictured above, it’s part of a series I’m doing based on Colour Complements’ mini mitten series. I’m using her mitten outline and threads from my stash of Colour Complements pearl cottons. But I wanted to stretch myself and almost all the mittens have used colors I would not normally use in my stitching. This lovely pink & green overdye is an exception; I love this color combination. It’s sat in my stash for years because I couldn’t figure out how to use it. But July’s mitten helped me create a formula for mixing solids and multi-colored threads in the same project.
- Pick a non-reprsentitive item to stitch. It could be an outline to fill or a geometric design. The key is that you want something where you can use multiple colors and still have it look good.
- Pick your overdye. It should have at least two clearly distinguishable colors. Unwrap the skein enough so you can see the colors.
- Pick two solid or semi-solid threads from the dominant colors in the overdye. If you pick any semi-solid threads there should be one solid for every semi-solid. Green is semi-solid and pink solid in my mitten.
- Pick you stitch(es). The stitch should be one where one color can dominate. In my mitten the two rows of Byzantine are different widths and the overdye rows are wider.
- If areas on the piece are isolated or in accent stitches, do not use the overdye in them. This allows the overdye to be the dominant thread in the main part of your design. On my mitten, the green thread is used alone on the cuff.
I liked how this process worked so well on this little mitten. I’m going to try it again on another project next month, an insert for my new turtle bag.