Trials and Tribulations of Thread Shopping

Although I still have ten thousands kits to work through and an unimaginable number of works in progress, after I finished my Ribbonwork Heart, I found myself hankering for some more ribbonwork but with no obvious next project in line.

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While I love working pre-made kits because you can just dive straight in and don’t have to worry about how it will look, I’ve been feeling more and more that I want to move to designing my own pieces and mixing techniques because, let’s face it, there is no project that is not improved by the inclusion of spangles.

Monograms are one of my favourite things – from lavish illuminated letters to simple shapes with outrageous colour schemes. A while back I finally got around to starting calligraphy lessons, something I’d wanted to do for many years, which didn’t do much to help my love of all things letters.

Embroidered monograms therefore seemed like an obvious union of two of my loves and, with the dangerous inspiration combination of Di van Nierk and Mary Corbet, a plan was formed. The monogram is one from Mary Corbet’s ‘Favourite Monograms’ e-book which, while I’m not in love with most of the alphabets in there, does have a few gems.

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The plan was to do something reminiscent of one of Di van Nierk’s flower-encrusted letters from her book ‘Letters and Monograms’. Thank you to Di for helping me track down a copy of her book in the UK, although it only seems to exist in French now! It is an absolutely gorgeous book, and you can see some examples of her style of work in it here. I’ll do a full review when my French is good enough to be a little more appreciative of the text but even the pictures are just wonderful.

I’m currently working another project in DMC Satin Effects which will be the subject of a rant at some point in the future (if anyone has any advice on how to stop that stuff fluffing and shredding then please let me know….) and, wanting something luxurious and shiny without a headache, I decide to indulge in some silk…

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As I am living somewhere where the idea of a ‘local yarn store’ or a serious craft shop would be like a mirage in the desert. There are a few places for picking up standard DMC cottons but nothing really inspirational enough to encourage me to go. That means I am stuck relying on online shopping which, when you need to do colour matching for a project, is a miserable experience.

I’d decided I wanted to work the piece in Au Ver à Soie’s Soie d’Alger with silk ribbon to match. While the information on Au Ver à Soie’s website is hopelessly out of date, there are a couple of UK stockists listed that still carry a good range of their threads. As I wanted somewhere that had a good selection of ribbons as well, I settled on shopping at SewandSo.

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Soie D’Alger 132, 114 and 134 left to right

What ensued was several hours of misery. I wanted to do the monogram in a pale, pure blue with a slightly darker edging and have green and purple ribbons for the surrounding flowers, with some yellow as a contrast colour. While I can’t complain at the customer service and sales part, SewandSo’s thread photos are borderline useless and not at all accurate…

colourguide
Colours from my photo (left) and SewandSo’s website (right)

It’s not the most accurate test, but I decided to pick out the RGB codes from the photos on SewandSo’s website and compare them to those in the photos I took. There are lots of reasons this is not totally accurate – I have selected a single pixel and this assumes there are no issues with the colour balance of my camera but as you can see from the comparison below (mine on the left, SewandSo on the right) there’s some pretty big differences for the mid blue in particular. If you want a way to pick RGB or other codes out of pictures (very useful if you’re doing digital colouring for designs) I really recommend JustColorPicker – it’s a nice lightweight program that allows you to grab colours from your screen super easily.

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Luckily for the Au Ver à Soie I was able to look at a few other websites to get a better idea of what I was buying (such as here) and there are some some heroic DMC to Au Ver à Soie code converters as it tends to be much easier to find good pictures for more common threads. Of course all of this adds an extra layer of time-consumption and irritation to the whole process.

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I also picked up some ribbons by The Thread Gatherer and Gloriana that look absolutely lovely (in person – it was impossible to tell whether they were variegated or solid dyes from SewandSo alone….) and I look forward to letting you know what they’re like to stitch with. I came across somewhere that sells House of Embroidery ribbons and threads too that I also decided to add to the collection!

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It was a pain but now I have some wonderful Soie d’Alger which has such a nice handle and is delightfully soft and a fun selection of ribbons. I haven’t quite decided what stitch to use to fill the monogram…. Raised stem band wouldn’t be a bad choice but I’m still a little traumatised from my Jacobean Crewelwork. Any suggestions readers? I think I’d like something a bit raised but padded satin feels like it would be a lot of work.

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7 thoughts on “Trials and Tribulations of Thread Shopping

  1. I sympathize with trying to colour match. I used to order one yard lengths of fabric and hope that the colours worked out, then I discovered pre-cuts and designer collections that consisted of co-ordinating fabrics and that is the way I go with online fabric shopping now. I order swatch cards for yarn.

    I don’t suppose you can order swatch cards from your favourite companies then you’d have a definitive source to pick your colours? I love the colours you choose and I’m looking forward to seeing your monogram when it’s done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m a little concerned how well a ‘greeny-blue’ will go with the purple flowers I have planned but we’ll see! I can always claim it was supposed to be a ‘contrast’ colour.

      Shade cards are definitely great. The main thing is I have been using a lot of different kinds of threads and experimenting with some new kinds recently but maybe what I should start doing is making my own cards from what I do buy… That might be a good future project!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel your pain for colour matching. I haven’t had a local embroidery shop for so long, and have resorted to buying the ‘proper’ shade cards with the actual thread in them. It took a while for the Au very a Soie one to be made and tracked down, but it makes such a huge difference and I think worth the expense if you have to colour match online.
    I’m not sure about your filling dilemma. Maybe chain stitch? But that is probably not the look you are going to. Laid work with a trellis over the top might be a nice option.
    Looking forward to watching your two loves combine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whereabouts did you get your Au ver one? I’ve only seen them being sold for some ridiculous prices.

      Laid work might be a good idea (and I always love trellis!) or maybe I will go for padded satin but I’ll pad with felt/whatever I can find rather than thread. Or I could just learn to be patient! Loving your silk shading by the way and good luck with your self-imposed deadlines.

      Liked by 1 person

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