From Start to Finish: Adding Color to a Design

It comes as a surprise to some when I say that I choose the colors for a design after the Diamond Delight 10 thread tossdesign is finished. I design everything in black and white, using my software to lay things out. Sometimes I have an idea of which colors I’m going to use, but usually I wait until I’m at the needlework shop to find which colors are “singing” to me.

The colors that are “singing” the loudest are the ones that get used in the current design. I pull one, sometimes two, overdyed threads, then pull supporting colors in a lot of different textures. Occasionally the overdyed thread that I like the best just won’t work, so I veer to a slightly different direction. Rarely I scrap the whole thing and start over.

For a design series like Glitz & Glamour, I will pull only silks, metallics and rayons – no cottons at all. For other series, like Banner Days or Holiday Highlights, the holidays determine the colors – red, white and blue for patriotic holidays, fall colors for Halloween and Thanksgiving, and so on. Seasonal designs are also fairly self-determining. But for designs like the Diamond Delight series, I can go wherever the colors take me.

From the very beginning, as much as 2 years ago, I knew that Diamond Delight 10 would be in my “signature” color, blue. I don’t think I’ve designed anything in icy blue and white since my very first design, Fyre ‘n Ice, and every time I saw Diamond Delight 10 in my mind, I saw it in pale blue and white. Blue can sometimes be problematic, shading to green like teals, or gray, or lavender. I prefer true colors, and looked for blues that had no hint of any other shading.

When I pull threads for a design, I pull as many textures as I can in the shades I think I might want to use. I will probably wind up using 50% to 70% of the threads I’ve pulled, but I want them handy so if I need that texture it’s available.

Then I toss all of the threads I’ve pulled onto the canvas. Open canvas is usually a part of the design as well, so if a color will enhance the design I want to see how the threads will look against the canvas. In this case, I think white will be the best.

So now I have the threads pulled, the canvas mounted, and the general layout. I’m ready to stitch! I write the instructions as I stitch, so that’s next up. It may be a little harder to describe that part of the process, but I’ll give it a go in the next post.

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