West End Embroidery are brilliant!

If I were wearing a hat I would take it off to Yvonne at West End Embroidery. Throughout the ordering process she has exhibited the patience of a saint as I kept asking for things that weren’t available or changing my mind about the colours I needed. And very reasonable prices too – highly recommended!

One of the problems, as I explained a few posts ago, is that West End Embroidery are pretty much the only online shop in the UK to stock Dinky Dyes perles, and they are phasing them out. Sew & So will order them in for me with no minimum order, but they are quite a bit more expensive; and both Yvonne at W E E and Margaret at Little Thread Shop said they couldn’t just order one or two skeins, which is perfectly understandable. Now for the Guildhouse project I showed you last time I will need about 50 yards of a hand-dyed perle #8; the one I used in the model is Dinky Dyes 095 Airlie which is very pretty and of which I have about half a skein left. Yvonne had only the one left, so on to Plan B – email Margaret as she had said she could order in if I wanted at least three of one shade. Unfortunately Margaret had already placed her order with DD and wouldn’t re-order in time for the course. It was clearly time for Plan C.

Earlier this week I telephoned West End Embroidery to make sure that all the chopping and changing I’d done hadn’t irreparably messed up my order, and she was very patient and helpful; for one thing I learnt that it was not just my imagination that there can be an awful lot of difference between Dinky Dyes dye lots. It doesn’t matter too much in my designs as I tend to use them as the only colour in an otherwise neutral piece (like Douglas, Heather and Round the World), but it’s something to bear in mind. She then suggested that I look at Threadworx perles as a possible alternative.

That was inspired. I do, in fact, use them already (in Scotland the Brave and the coloured version of Lviv), but they are not one of the “default” brands I think of when choosing threads. And there are so many lovely colours! The one I would have used for preference in the Guildhouse piece is the one I used for Lviv. It’s not a direct match for DD Airlie, but it’s got that same multi-coloured pastel look.

Threadworx 1078 Pastel Bouquet

Unfortunately it only comes in stranded cotton and perle #5, so I took the Threadworx perle #8 page as my starting point to find a few possibles. The only pastel rainbow one is a bit too sweet for my taste, and Bradley’s Balloons, though fun, is perhaps just a touch too bright. In the end I settled on a colour that isn’t in the least like Dinky Dyes Airlie, but which I think will look quite striking – 1040 Shanghai Nights. I’ll let you know when the threads arrive (and whether I managed to order what I meant to order)!

Threadworx 1040 Shanghai Nights

More threads – fewer threads

I’ve been adding some very pretty threads to my collection over the past few weeks, and one of the pleasant things about ordering them has been the discovery that stitchers are just Very Nice People! Margaret at the Little Thread Shop, Susan at Treenway Silks and Yvonne at West End Embroidery have all been really helpful, ordering things in, comparing colours, finding out about threads and so on. Strictly speaking I do not know whether all or any of them are actually stitchers themselves, but they are definitely stitch-associated, so I think that counts smiley.

Here are the goodies that came in from the Little Thread Shop a week or so ago; including postage they came to less than 60% of what I would have paid if I’d bought them in the UK, which is pretty good going! These are Weeks Dye Works perles (only #5, unfortunately, so I had to source the #8 elsewhere – hats off to Sew & So who as usual took a day to get them to me) and Caron threads; the lovely variegated orange at the bottom is Calabasa, which I used in my latest Guildhouse project.

Threads from the Little Thread Shop

And then there were the silks I ordered from Treenway. One of the things I like about both these American suppliers is that they are happy to send orders using First Class post (I hope I got the name right), which means postage on these orders was between $4 and $6. I will come back to that a bit later on, but first things first, the silks. Don’t you just love unwrapping an order of threads or fabrics or beads and simply enjoying the look and feel of them? That’s what I did with these – they are terribly tactile, and need to be stroked and handled. I don’t care if the oils in my hands mean that at some Antiques Roadshow in 2213 the expert will tut and say “oh dear, these silks have been handled far too much, they’re disintegrating”; it is simply impossible not to pet these beautiful threads.

Threads from Treenway Silks

Some of the colours I chose to match some I already have, some are new matching pairs (like Mandalay and Faded Rose, the muted pinks in the middle of the bottom row), and one is a top-up (Tangiers, second left of the top row). The ribbon, which is Tangiers as well, I got especially to go with the colour combination I showed you some time ago, with the dark wine red fabric. I have since found that some Miyuki beads I picked up at the Knitting & Stitching Show will go beautifully with that, so now all I need is a project for them.

Treenway Silks, Miyuki beads, DMC and Zweigart fabric

So why the “fewer threads” in the title? That’s because I’m finding some threads harder and harder to find, certainly here in England, and some overseas suppliers are pricing themselves out of the market (at least my market) with their shipping charges. I have just placed an order with West End Embroidery for some Petite Treasure Braid, WDW perle #8, and Dinky Dyes perles. It’s the DD perles which are the problem – Yvonne told me they are phasing them out and won’t be replacing any that they sell. This means that as far as I know there isn’t an online shop in the UK that sells Dinky Dyes cotton perles (Sew & So sell the silk perles, but they don’t come in the same range of colours and are obviously much more expensive). Margaret at the Little Thread Shop said she’s happy to order them in for me, but I’d have to order at least three of each colour, which is more than I need. I did find one or two shops in the US which sell the cotton perles, but their shipping charges make it impractical to order from them; at one shop I chucked 20 skeins into the virtual shopping basket as an experiment, and found that postage to the UK would be about $36! So if any of you know of a supplier that sells these threads and whose p&p to the UK is reasonable, please let me know – I’d very much like to keep using Dinky Dyes’ pretty perles.