THE CLASSIC PROBLEM

Too much stitching left to do. Too little thread. With about a quarter of the stitching remaining I have a problem.

I am using thread I brought back from India. I found it in a shop in the old shopping district in Pune. They specialized in crafting materials, especially beads, pre-embroidered pieces, knitting yarns, and other goodies. But they had a few skeins of what looked like silk floss in one of the display cases. I pointed at it and asked the shopkeeper if he had more. He sent a little boy up into the storerooms, and he came back with a very dusty and crumbling cardboard box full of odds and ends. All of the same type of thread (which turned out to be “art silk” – rayon) but all of very limited quantity. I picked out all of what remained in non-pastel colors, including several multi-skein hanks of deep red, and bought it all, for an astonishingly low price.

As you can see there’s a pile of crimson there. What remains of that pile now is much less –

The wound bobbin in the middle is what I’ve been using (with a caveat). It’s Cifonda Art Silk color number 145. So is the hank on the left. The hank on the right is color number 144. It’s in the same continuum, but a click lighter. At the bottom is flaming cherry red 530, not even close.

The caveat on the bobbin? It’s holding two skeins of 145. Underneath is New-145. On top is Old-145. I wound off the new one, then after stitching the bit below, went on a Wild Hunt, and found one last remaining skein of Old-145. You can’t see the difference between them, right? Neither could I until this happened.

I bet you can see it now. Leaf #3 and part of the interlace below it stands out. I stitched it with the New-145. It’s redder, more garnet in tone than the established work. Clearly the same color number, but a different dye lot (even though dye lots are not labeled ). Even if I could get more of this stuff the chance of matching color with my very-well-aged stock is practically nil.

I will finish out as much as possible with my last skein of Old-145. I may or may not pick out this leaf . Still thinking on that… And also thinking on how to finish out the piece using only what I have on hand. Go for New-145? Go lighter with 144? I’ve seen historical pieces whose stitchers faced the same problem and blithely ignored it. Which is what I will end up doing, one way or the other…

7 responses

  1. Julia Horwood | Reply

    Hi Kim…..I am thinking two dunks in some strong tea juice may tone that red down a bit, but you are right, it’s only modern western embroidery that has one colour tone all over, and has all the cross stitches laid in the same direction. Antique and tribal stuff is full of tone and direction changes, totally non anal ! Heheheh, and it gives it so much character! Took me years to break away from conforming to rigid rules that are really not important. It will look spectacular any way you do it.

  2. Go for the new 145. It’s the closest of what you have, and with light exposure and time it may dull to look more like the old 145. That won’t happen with the lighter shade; it will only diverge further. Pity the thread is not more robust – if the mismatch really bugged me I’d be tempted to unstitch the POC lettering and use that thread to finish – the text would be fine in a non-matching thread. But consider – perhaps only you would notice on the finished piece. And, as you say, it has plenty of precedent.

  3. You could blend the two, one strand of old with one strand of new and transition into the new, so it would have a color gradiation look

  4. I have the same dilemma at my house. My vintage project is out of vintage thread. So, I’m following Fran’s advice for 3 flowers and then switching to the new color. On the other end, I’ll pick out 1 or 2 flowers and do the same thing. With that thread, I’ll redo 1 or 2 flowers on the end. If it can’t be perfect, at least it will be inconsistently consistent.

  5. Michelle Castanon | Reply

    What if…what if…you unstitched the outside edge and used that thread for completing the main design, THEN restitch the outside edge with a different color?
    If you still don’t have enough thread, perhaps unstitch another section?
    So sorry that this happened to you. I really enjoy viewing your projects.

    1. An idea, but this aged thread is extremely friable and not strong enough to stand teasing out and restitching – certainly not for a large area (I can get away with about a dozen stitches of “fix-me” – no more).

      The dye lot difference is more visible under artificial light than natural light, which is probably why I didn’t see it until I was stitching after dark. Had I known about it earlier I would have worked the wording in a different color, or used one red for the skeletons and the other for the supplemental companion borders.

      I think I will follow the suggestion of another person as I complete the remainder. For as long as possible I will use one strand from each dye lot, to marl the two together and ease the transition. AND I will do so both at my current point of completion and also at the point of origin, so that there is no jarring area where the colors entirely shift one to the other.

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