If I survey my stash I realize that the majority of threads I own are hand-dyed or overdyed. This means that where another stitcher might use a skein of DMC floss, I pull out a skein of something dyed by hand.
For many stitchers this would present a world of funny diagonal stripes from stitching Basketweave (learn how to solve that here), but I glory in the subtly changing colors and the fun of hand-dyed threads. So much so I wrote a book packed with ideas on how to use them (learn more here).
Judging from the number of threads out there that are hand-dyed, I’m not alone.
This little luggage tag, a Needlepoint.com canvas, illustrates why they are so fun to use. The light blue is stitched using Flair from Rainbow Gallery, a solid thread. The darker blue is stitched using Silk Straw in Four Strong Winds.
Instead of one basic blue color, I have blue, navy, dark grey-blue, and violet. Plus there are short transitions between the colors. My round now easily coordinates with all those colors.
The constantly changing colors gives dimension to the flat surface of the needlepoint because colors advance and recede visually depending on their value. Because the color change is not patterned the change in depth is not strong, but is enough to keep the stitching from looking flat.
It also creates a wonderful focal point for the project. Stitched in solid colors only the light blue is a weak focal point because it is smaller in extent than the darker blue. This is because we tend to read the color that takes up more space as “background.” With the changing colors in the hand-dyed thread our attention goes there, allowing it to become the focal point, and a slightly stronger one. This happens because changing color attract more attention than solid colors. We think unconsciously “Oh those colors are pretty together.” and look a bit more to see all that is there. When it’s a solid color, we think “blue” and can more easily skip over it.
If you don’t use hand-dyed threads in your stitching start small by substituting a subtle shade for a solid in a small project. If you like the look continue playing with them until they become an important part of your stitching.