A perle problem

There are, of course, always problems about using hand-dyed perles. Problems inherent to the product, I mean. For one thing, dye lots can vary wildly so that a stitcher may find that her version of a particular design looks washed out compared to the stitched model, or on the contrary rather garishly bright, or much greener, or much less purple. There is the fact that they are often rather more expensive than standard perles, and (depending on the brand) not so widely available or easy to obtain. And then there is the risk of colours being discontinued.

Colours, or even whole collections. Earlier this year, Dinky Dyes was taken over by Kathy Filosi, and she decided to continue the trend towards concentrating on the silk threads at the expense of the cotton ones. This is not an insurmountable problem for the stranded cottons, as the DD stranded silks come in exactly the same shades, and those of my designs which use stranded DD (like Floral Tiles: Pansies and Patches) already specified silk rather than cotton – although it does mean that the less expensive alternative is no longer available.

The perles are a completely different story, however. Dinky Dyes do have a collection of silk perles, and very nice they are too, but the colours don’t match those of the now abandoned cotton perles. Again not too much of a problem for some designs – Round the World uses a shaded red, green, yellow and light blue which shouldn’t be too difficult to replace, perhaps with Weeks Dye Works; Citrus uses a yellow/orange/red which is not an unusual combination and might even have an Anchor or DMC near-equivalent. The difficult ones are going to be the colours used in Douglas & Heather, and especially in Sunken Treasures.

Why especially that last one? Because unlike in the other designs, where the Dinky Dyes perle is the only colour used, in Sunken Treasures it has to fit in with several shades of standard perle – blue, green and purple in dark and light. Oh well, time to trawl through my stash of hand-dyed threads to see what possible substitutes there are. For the first one, “Airlie” (the middle bobbin in the first picture), candidates are Caron’s shade Parfait (bobbin on the left; less yellow than Airlie, and cooler in shade), Threadworx’s Wildflowers (on the wooden ring; cooler in shade, and with turquoise instead of green) and Treenway’s Mandalay (bobbin on the right). The right-hand picture shows Mandalay used in another design; the colour is quite close to what I’m looking for, but it’s silk, so rather expensive, and not very easy to get. I may simply suggest all three in the chart pack and let the stitchers decide how much they are willing to spend and which colour they like best.

Alternatives for Airlie Treenway's Mandalay

Finding a suitable substitute for “Daydream” (the middle bobbin in the picture below) in my stash is proving more challenging. The two closest I could find aren’t really very close at all – Caron’s Eggplant (bobbin on the left) is far too muted, and doesn’t really have any blue in it. Caron’s Appalachia (bobbin on the right) is too bright and the proportion of green is too large. Let down by my stash I looked into all those lovely threads out there which I haven’t got yet and found that my last hope is probably Threadworx’ Mosaic, which looks as though it may be a bit too dark and bold, and with a different purple, but which at least has a more “watery” look than Appalachia.

Alternatives for Daydream

Next step? Stitch a motif from the designs using the various substitutes, and see which ones come out best (if I choose the motifs wisely they’ll do for cards or gift tags so the time, thread and effort won’t be wasted). But first it’s off to Sew & So to get Mosaic in perle #5 and #8. I wonder if there’s anything else I can order at the same time to make best use of the postage…

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