Spices crisis

Having stitched mostly smallish projects recently, I was looking forward to starting on something a bit larger, one of my planned-for-February designs, Spice Islands. With its clove-shaped cut areas and warm earthy colours it is my little ode to Dutch cooking, and the spices I love to use – cloves, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, ketoembar (coriander), djinten (cumin), kurkuma (turmeric), djahé (ginger). You could make a song out of that!

Spice Islands

Some years ago I was putting the groceries away, and suddenly noticed three jars of spices I’d bought: paprika, ginger and turmeric. What lovely colours, I thought, and how well they go together! And because like most stitchers I’ve got That Sort Of Mind, I tried to work out which DMC shades would come closest. They turned out to be 919, 677 and 782, and together with a dark brown I used them for a salamander bookmark.

DMC spices

So when I started thinking about a spice-inspired piece of Hardanger, I naturally picked up on those colours. Looking through what I had in my stash, I picked five shades of perle #5. The lightest one, cream, would be used in the central motif, the other four would make up the Florentine sections and the Kloster blocks. Those four I would need in #8 as well, for the bars and filling stitches.

That’s where I ran into the first difficulty. DMC, in their wisdom, have decided that we really don’t need all that many shades of perle #8, and so two of the shades I’d chosen in #5 were actually non-existent in #8. Fine, we’ll use one shade lighter. And so that’s what I put into the Spice Islands "short pack" (which is what I call the documents which contain a chart and some basic notes for a design).

Fast forward 13 months or so, and I’m getting the materials together to start stitching. And suddenly I realise four things: that the brown perle #5 is too light; that one shade darker is better, but that both are really much too grey-brown; that the darkest perle #8 I have for this series of browns is a medium shade of stone; and that the paprika shade is far too orange.

After a short bout of panic, the inescapable fact that it was 8.30pm on a January night with a standard lamp as my only illumination made it quite clear that any colour changes were not going to be made that night. So I decided to start on Shades, a small, simple and soothing project to keep me occupied until I sort out the spice colours.

Later today, before dusk sets in, it’s off to my box of stranded cottons to choose the perfect shades, and then to the online shade card to see if the perfect shades exist in perle #5 and #8. Wish me luck!

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