If you find books about mixing paint frustrating, it’s good to know that we do have, as stitchers, a limited ability to mix colors. This process is called optical blending. With this two distinct colors, when placed next to each other create a different color. This is why needleblending works.
You can see this yourself in this little experiment. Take a scrap bit of 13 or 14 mesh fabric. Now pick two shades of floss from the same color family but not shades next to each other; you want them to be easy to distinguish.
Put three strands of each into the same needle and stitch a square of Basketweave. Step away. Isn’t the color you see different from either of the colors you used, a shade in between them? That’s because your eye blended the two colors together to create the new color.
Now look at the patch where you can see each individual stitch easily. Notice that now you can see that some stitches are one color, some the other and some have strands of both colors showing. This happens because the threads twist slightly as you stitch. Because of the two colors and the twisting you are able to get an area where the colors are randomly dispersed, creating the opportunity for your eye to blend them together.
While it’s easiest to see in stranded threads, a similar process can happen with single strand threads as well. And you can do it with any thread, including metallics, to create dynamic needlepoint. The kimono pictured here, from Patt & Lee Designs, is a Needlepoint Independent Study Course of mine that covers three methods of shading. You can use the button below to purchase it.
The class is $35 and includes the canvas.