Here a thread, there a thread…(Part 1)

The bread and butter of every needlework designer is thread. Thread is our medium, how we do what we do, our “paint”. We surround ourselves with it, with color cards, floss rings, whole thread lines, and never have enough.

One of the questions that I get asked a lot is how do I decide which threads to use in a design. Some designers are very monogamous, sticking with only one thread line for their designs. I haven’t seen a thread yet that I didn’t love, and want to use in a design somewhere! As a result, I use several different thread lines in my designs, and that can create problems sometimes. So the next few blogs will be about how I choose which threads to use in a design, my process if you will.

When I design a new project, it begins with a concept, that gets fleshed out in black and white lines on the computer. Sometimes I use gray lines as well, just for distinguishing stitch patterns, but for the most part, everything is black and white. I may have in mind a color scheme, but usually I don’t – the color comes later.

Next I start thinking about a color palette. I usually base my color palette on an overdyed or hand-painted thread, except for the Glitz & Glamour series. For the Glitz & Glamour series, the color is selected before the design begins, because the gemstone or precious metal may suggest some of the form of the design (for instance, Glitz & Glamour Gold was suggested by gold ingots stacked together, Glitz & Glamour Opal featured lots of round and oval shapes, and so on).

Once the overdyed or hand-painted thread is selected, I start pulling every thread in every texture that I think I *may* want to use in the design. Lots of metallics, rayons and rayon ribbons, silk/metallic braids, flosses and pearl cottons in differing weights. This is when my thread lines come into play. I pull from several different lines – DMC, Presencia, Kreinik, Caron Collection, Crescent Colours, Rainbow Gallery – anything that I think may be useful for the texture and pattern in the design. I always have way more threads pulled than I will actually use, but I want to have lots of options.

I take all of the threads I have pulled, and do a “floss toss” – all of the threads get laid out on the canvas, to see which would be the best color to use. Sometimes the canvas color is a part of the design, sometimes it isn’t essential. Doing a floss toss helps me determine which color of canvas is going to make the colors work best together, and if the color of canvas I thought would work actually will.

Next – deciding which thread lines to use

8 thoughts on “Here a thread, there a thread…(Part 1)”

  1. foreverxstitching

    First, I must say that Glitz is part of my DNA. Secondly, I love the amethyst because of people, but I have an emotional attachment to the farmer piece. When I graduated from high school, my parents have me a stunning garnet ring. Years later, I came home to find our house had been robbed. My children’s Christmas gifts that were hidden in my closet were stolen, but I say on the floor and sobbed because my garnet ring (and my silver charm bracelet with years of special charms) had been stolen. I visited pawn shops for months going to find my ring. I have never even found one like it to replace it, so stitching the farmer canvas would, perhaps, give me a piece of that memory.

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