Hand Dyed Floss

What is hand dyed floss and how do I use it?

Dinky Dyes silk

Hand Dying techniques

There are many different ways of hand dyeing embroidery floss. Broadly speaking these techniques fall into two categories:

Vat Dyeing – the skeins or hanks of floss are immersed or dipped into a container of liquid dye

Space Dyeing  – where coloured dyes are placed along different parts of the floss skein or hank.

Vat Dyeing is where you make up a liquid solution of pigment or dye, and then you dip part or all if your floss into it, or when you drop your floss into it, giving it a bath. You can tie loose knots in your floss so that the dye penetrates some areas more than others. This is the easiest range of methods for mottled threads or subtle dye variations.

Space Dyeing  is where coloured dyes are deliberately added to specific sections of the floss skein or hank. Usually the dye solution is added to the floss. Space Dyeing methods are mainly used to create colourful rainbow threads.

Dye Types

There are many different types of dyes and pigments used to dye floss.  Some are powders that must be mixed into water or oil, some are already liquid, some are derived from plant materials, or squished insects, others are made in a laboratory.  Some require a “mordant” to hold the colour to the floss, others do not. Often different dye processes are used on synthetic fabrics such as rayon and nylon to those processes used for cotton, silk, cashmere, wool etc.

Every different dyer uses their own type of dying process and dyes or pigments.  This is why some hand dyed threads are colourfast and others are not.  Read the label carefully if you are planning on stitching a large design or a small travel piece, as the threads may not be washable at the end.

Classic Colorworks

Cleaning tips

If you do need to clean an item that has non-colourfast threads on it, here’s how to do it.

  • Turn on the tap over your basin or sink.
  • Use tepid or cold water.
  • Do not put the plug in.
  • Rinse your fabric under the water, thoroughly wetting it.
  • If any colours run, this is usually excess dye leaching from the thread. Leave your stitching under the running water until the water runs clear.

If you put the plug in or swirl this fabric through a basin of standing water then that excess dye lands on your fabric and stains it.  If you leave the water running without a plug then the water carries the free dye down the drain before it can land and stain.

Caron waterlilies

Photographing floss and Colour Vision

The same issues we discussed in the Hand Dyed Fabrics article apply here. There is no possible way for either monitors or printers to accurately reflect the full range of colours that our eyes can see. However, you can often get a good idea of the range and variation in the shading.

Carrie's Silks

Hand Dyed Means Unique

Again as discussed in the Hand Dyed Fabrics article, there are just some variables in the hand dying process  that you can never plan for:  The minerals in the water used in the dye bath, the temperature of the water versus the temperature of the ambient air on the day, the humidity levels or how the floss was dried.  All of these factors can these can subtly change the characteristics of the final piece.

If you are buying variegated threads for a specific project, ALWAYS BUY THE WHOLE AMOUNT OF FLOSS AT THE SAME TIME . Wherever possible, ask that the skeins are supplied from the SAME DYELOT.

This is particularly important if you are planing to stitch a large piece in hand dyed floss, By requesting skeins from the same dyelot, you will know both the shade and patterning will be consistent throughout your piece.

Gentle Arts Sampler Threads  - Reds and Blues

How do you stitch with hand dyed threads

The way you stitch with hand dyed threads makes a significant difference to the finished effect. To show this, I have stitched a sampler to illustrated some of the more common stitching styles.  I have used a skein of Carrie’s Jelly Fish as there are many colour changes.

2014-12-12 16.36.46

Left block and first long strip were stitched:

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  then ///////////////// (yes I was taught by a left-hander)

In both the block and the row, some of the colours are barely seen because they are used on the bottom  \\\\ and others are shown more because they are solely used as the top ////,  This can create an unusual look for your piece. I do like the interplay of colours with the yellow over pink add the purple over green.

I’ve only see one pattern that deliberately asked to be stitched that way; “Is it my Eyes” by Susan Saltzgiver. Most of these blocks have the bottom \ in a different floss to the /,  Usually light over dark but sometimes dark over light.

Is it my eyes - Susan Saltzgiver

Middle block and middle strip are stitched one full stitch at a time, so \ then / then \ then /   The rows are stitched:

01, 02, 03 … 09, 10
20, 19, 18 … 12, 11
21, 22, 23 … 29, 30
40, 39, 38 … 32, 31   etc

Although it doesn’t look much different in the block, the row shows how this can lead to a stripey stitched effect.  This method best reflects the real patterning in the hand dyed thread. One such as this:

Fire flower finished

Right Block and third strip were stitched via my way. I’ve developed a habit of stitching two stitches, then going to the next row and stitching the same two stitches, and then back up to the previous row and stitching another two stitches, then down to the next row and stitching two stitches etc.  So the block was stitched like this:

01, 02, 05, 06 … 17, 18
03, 04, 07, 08 … 19, 20
38, 37, 34, 33 … 22, 21
40, 39, 36, 35 … 24, 23
41, 42, 45, 46 … 57, 58
43, 44, 47, 48 … 59, 60 now there are three rows left so
86, 85, 80, 79 … 62, 61
88, 87, 82, 81 … 64, 63
90, 89, 84, 83 … 66, 65

This produces more of a mottled effect instead of stripes:

Angle-of-Love-Finished

Or you can throw all of that out the window and cut your hand dyed threads so that you choose where each section of colour goes.  In this case, I stitched the left project using my usual two stitches method.  On the right, I cut the thread so that the colours went where I wanted them to.

Summary

Hand dyed thread will always produce an effect that is guaranteed to be unique. No two stitchers will create exactly the same outcome and often this variation creates some truly beautiful finishes. Ultimately, you can stitch with your hand dyed threads any which way you please. It all depends on the effect you want for each project.

Stitched Sampler

Places to Buy

World Wide:

These are threads that are available in most cross stitch stores:

Anchor Multicolours. Anchor Embroidery Floss is spun from the world’s finest 100% Egyptian cotton. Anchor offers you 24 multicolours that are completely washable and offer outstanding colorfastness.

Caron Waterlilies Hand-dyed 12 ply spun silk. 6 yard skeins. Easily divided, use two plies for cross stitch over two threads on 28 count fabric.

Caron Wildflowers A single strand hand-dyed cotton in variegated colors. It has more of a matte finish when stitched.  36 yard skein.

Classic Colorworks (formerly Crescent Colours) A hand dyed floss that begins with 100% cotton DMC six strand floss and gentle fabric dyes designed specifically for cotton. Available in a variety of beautiful colors that work well with cross stitch. 5 yard skeins.

Classic Colorworks (formerly Crescent Colours) Belle Soie Silk Floss These silks are hand dyed with the same creative eye and flair you’ve come to enjoy in their cotton flosses, with a softness unmatched in other silks. They start with a 12-stranded spun silk, and package them into 5-yard skeins.

Dinky Dyes Now based in the United States, Dinky Dyes started in Western  Australia.  Luxurious hand-dyed 6 strand spun silk sold in 8 meter skeins.

DMC Color Variations These give you the look of hand dyed floss with the added quality and reassurance that they are made by DMC. Twenty-four beautiful multi-color and tone on tone shades that are colorfast.

Gentle Art Sampler Threads Six Strand hand over-dyed floss. Sold in 5 yard skeins.

Gloriana This spun silk has silk’s beauty, luster, and shine but doesn’t catch on your hands. Gloriana Silk is soft and remarkably easy to use. 12 strand silk, 6 yard skein.

Gloriana Florimell Au Ver a Soie Soie d’Alger artisan-dyed 7 strand silk by Gloriana Threads. 5 yard skein. Hand-washable in cold water.

Needlepoint Inc Northern Lights 8 Strands. Colourfast. 100% Pure Chinese Silk. Overdyed to create this wonderful range of multicolour silk threads.

Thread Gatherer Silk N Colors 100% silk, 12-ply, 6 yard skeins. Silk N Colors initially separates into 3 groups of 4-ply. Before stitching, separate and put together the desired ply. Cross-stitching: we recommend 1-ply on 30 count or finer, 2-ply on 28 count linen.

Threadworx Overdyed Floss A premium quality, six-strand embroidery floss made from the finest long-staple, 100% Egyptian Giza cotton. Sold in 20 yard skeins.

Threadworx Vineyard Silk Artisan dyed by ThreadworX. 100% Pure Chinese Silk. Twisted. 20 yard skeins.

Valdani  Superb Hand-Overdyed colors in Cotton Floss for the “matte” look. Embroidery Floss Skeins in 6-ply cotton for cross-stitch

Weeks Dye Works Hand Over-Dyed Floss. 5 yard skeins. The colors are variegated enough to be noticeable, yet subtle enough to blend naturally. Because it is pliable, this fiber is perfect for cross stitch and needlepoint on many counts of fabric and canvas.

Australia:

Colour Streams Colour Streams hand dyed embroidery silk threads are available in 50 glorious overdyed colours.

Cottage Garden Threads Our passion is to produce hand dyed threads inspired by the diversity of colour among the flowers and foliage of a cottage garden.

Primke Threads are hand dyed cotton threads from Australia, they come in 72 colours.

Stitches and Spice is Australia’s only floss hand dyer. There are 56 colours in Naomi’s range and they complement her fabric colours. 5 metre skeins of Hand-dyed 6 stranded 100% cotton.

France:

Annick Abrial creates beautiful hand dyed floss colours. 100% cotton, 6 strands stranded, hand-painted, which are capable of steam ironing. The colors are guaranteed in time and are 8 metre skeins.

Rainbow Fingers  I’m a fiber artist living in France that has a passion for dyeing also.

The Silk Mill Our silk is 100% pure Chinese monofilament silk thread. The thread comes in skeins of six strands of 6.5 metres long, with a total skein length of 39 metres. There are 700 shades of silk to choose from.

Italy:
Romy’s Creations Overdyed DMC floss in beautiful colours.

Poland:

Nina’s Threads 100% stranded cotton threads, hand dyed with professional dyes, for embroidery and cross stitch. 8 meters / skein. Rinsed in neutral scent after dye.

South Africa:

Chameleon Threads are individually hand-dyed in South Africa using cotton, rayon and pure silk.

House of Embroidery Un-dyed cotton threads are imported from Europe and un-dyed silk is imported from Japan. Our threads are dyed in South Africa, using European dyes.

United Kingdom:

Crafty Kitten These threads are dyed to match our fabric colour range.  Each skein is 5m in length. These threads have been hand-dyed on high quality DMC white stranded embroidery cotton.

Jodyri Designs Hand dyed cotton threads priced at 99p per 8m skein. These cannot be guaranteed to be colourfast

Polstitches Dragon Floss has some wonderful thread names.  6 strand cotton, 8 metre skeins.

Rainbow Girl Each item is unique, and cannot be reproduced. I use a low water immersion technique with procion dyes. Every item is thoroughly rinsed and washed in Synthrapol, after dyeing, but I cannot guarantee that they are colourfast.

Sparklies All my threads are full skeins of DMC, hand dyed to an overdyed finish. Currently these are mostly two-tone, but I hope to expand the range to include multi-tone colours in the future.

Stef Francis 6-strand cotton, length 10m.  12 strand Silk, length 6m.

Thread Pickerz Silkz Here you will find wonderful silks to help make your cross stitch projects stand out. Each silk skein has 50 single strand lengths of approx 0.96m in length.

United States:

Carrie’s Creation Threads All threads are 100% cotton DMC,  and available in either the 6 strand cotton, the premium weight floss known as Floche, or Silk!

Dragonfly Lotus Produces hand dyed silk and wool threads.

Fiberactive Organics Our Shop Specializes in hand-dyed organic cotton products. We use low impact Fiber-Reactive Dyes to achieve the most vivid and fade resistant colors for all your project’s needs.

Fiberlicious  is a Facebook only dyer. Cotton floss is 6 strands and 10 yards long (approx).Silk has 50 single strands of 1.2m long which is 60 m in total. They are dyed with variation of colors (not colorfast). My silk is Pure silk (Flat Silk, 2 plies), not processed silk with polyester so it’s pretty soft and delicate.

Garibaldi’s Needle Works is an ebay only store that produces beautiful mottled fabrics and threads.

Hand Dyed Fibers by Vicki Clayton. Silk floss comes in two sizes. Regular silk floss is about the same size as DMC. Premium floss is much thicker and has single strand coverage over 2 on 28 ct. – 32 ct. You can use the drop down box to choose which type of floss you would like. Vicki is swamped with orders and has taken down her floss pages for a couple of weeks.

Mo’s Sale a Facebook supplier that now has her own website. Often releases new colours in themes such as MockingJay and Harry Potter.

Rumple Beary Rumors On Facebook and Etsy.  My skeins are hand measured and dyed/painted, so each will vary.  10 yards each of 6 strand cotton embroidery floss  Most times you will get a bit more than 10 yards. My threads are hand painted/dyed on a DMC base white thread and are variegated.

Victorian Motto Sampler Shoppe On Ebay and Etsy. My floss is 20, one yard pieces, per skein.

Discussion

Did I miss any good dyers?  Please comment below and I will add them to the list. Also, what article do you want next weekend?

Feedback

Did you like this Weekend Spotlight? Did it contain all the expected information? Is there anything you would like added or removed from this? Do you know of a particular chart, designer, stitch along or accessory creator you want to see featured here? If so, please head to the Suggestions page and let me know.

Last updated: 13 December 2014

 

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Calypso (Lynch) by Heaven and Earth Designs

Art to Stitch Wednesday and yes we have finally arrived at the most well-known fantasy art-to-stitch site, Heaven and Earth Designs (HaED).

HaED - Calypso
HaED – Calypso

What is it?

Calypso is a watercolour by Jo Lynch translated into cross stitch by Michele Sayetta of Heaven and Earth Designs.

Note: Please respect our artists. Your work will be a labour of love for months and years to come. Buy from reputable designers such as those reviewed on this site. They support the artists who produce the original works. By buying cheap art-to-stitch designs, you are likely buying from a designer who is not paying royalties or licensing and the chart is likely to be low quality. Without support, our artists cannot thrive. Your time, and theirs are worth more.

Why this chart?

I’ve always loved Jo Lynch’s artwork, especially her watercolour animals.  She also “donates a portion of her sales to help various animal charities and shelters, and works with one group in particular, Art 4 Critters , in which she is now a co-leader. Each year she donates some paintings and artwork to animal groups to sell during fundraisers.” Very inspiring.

Michelle Sayetta and her site Heaven and Earth Designs are well-known for licensing fantastic artists and then investing over 60 hours into each artwork, designing and tweaking to give stitchers the best possible art-to-stitch chart. Heaven and Earth have been in business twelve years and that experience shows in their charts.

Most art-to-stitch designs are fully stitched, in that the background is treated as part of the picture so every square is stitched, culminating in a project comprising thousands of stitches and months if not years to work.

Calypso is different; smaller than the average art-to-stitch chart and and with no background so stitchers can choose any background they like to personalise their vision.

Calypso is a simple design, it is full cross stitch in DMC only; a beginner has the skills to stitch it. However, this is still a large design, so pace yourself and enjoy the journey.

Calypso
Calypso

Review

Heaven and Earth designs are available as printed charts or digital downloads.  All designs are available in regular or large format.  My copy of Calypso is a digital download of the large chart format. Calypso is a 16 page chart pack in digital format. Save the design and you can work from the digital chart or print sections as you need, or print it all and store it with the rest of your paper charts; the options are yours.

The Calypso chart pack contains:

  • front cover sheet with original artwork, stitch count and finished sizes for 25ct fabric counts and the artist licence information.
  • one page of instructions on how to stitch art-to-stitch design.
  • three pages of the DMC floss symbol key or legend, in DMC floss number order.
  • thee pages of the DMC floss, listing both the number of stitches and number of skeins required for for each DMC colour.
  • the 8 page chart

Heaven and Earth Designs provide black symbols on a white background.  Each successive chart page includes a three-row shaded overlap from earlier pages. Michelle carefully selects the variety of symbols to maximise ease of differentiating them on the page.  Again, you can almost see the design due to the symbol choice.

The larger chart format shows only 65 x 80 stitches per page. The standard charts use 80 x 98 stitches per page; so the symbols on the larger chart pack are easier to see.  I recommend buying the larger chart pack if you suspect the design includes many colour changes (confetti stitching).

When Calypso was first released in 2009, Heaven and Earth Designs recommended stitching this design in silk floss created by Vicki Clayton of Hand Dyed Fibers.  Vicki’s silks to DMC chart is listed here.

Although the stitchcount is listed on the front page, the three pages of floss list can only be seen once you buy and open the chartpack.  Due to this, Heaven and Earth Designs provide the floss list on the website.

Calypso is a bold fun design with no background stitching; as such you can stitch on any fabric that you choose.

Materials Required

To stitch the charts exactly as designed, you will need:

1 skein each DMC 150, 152, 156, 159, 160, 162, 169, 209, 225, 315, 334, 367, 371, 402, 413, 517, 524, 550, 554, 580, 598, 606, 666, 676, 700, 704, 720, 740, 741, 742, 775, 780, 781, 791, 792, 794, 796, 797, 798, 799, 807, 809, 813, 814, 817, 819, 820, 825, 826, 842, 890, 891, 898, 900, 921, 932, 936, 946, 947, 966, 970, 971, 972, 993, 995, 996, 3042, 3072, 3325, 3743, 3747, 3752, 3761, 3765, 3766, 3805, 3808, 3810, 3814, 3832, 3835, 3836, 3842, 3843, 3845, 3852, 3853, 3861, 3865, Ecru.

25 count White linen (stitch count 245 x 121). This design can be stitched over 2 or over 1.  Stitched  over one with the a 3″ border allowance, fabric size needed is:  16″x 11″ or 40 x 28cm  or a fat eight (13 x 18″)

For 14ct Aida or 28ct evenweave (with 3″ border allowance) fabric size is: 24” x 15”  or  60 x 38cm  or  a fat quarter (18 x 27″).

Approximate cost for Project

Approximate cost to stitch Calypso  using the recommended DMC floss stitch over one 25count fabric (prices are in $US, at recommended retail and do  not include postage):

Chart: $19.00
Floss:  $ 39.60
Fabric: $  7.70

Total: $66.30  ($130.00 AUD or €114.60  or  £84.70)

Places to Buy

Heaven and Earth Designs sell globally, both pdf digital charts and printed charts. Both in regular and large formats.

Australia:

Colours Down Under has all the threads and a variety of white and off white fabrics in stock. Jo would be happy to order in the chart, and offers a 10% discount on the package (chart + floss). Mention this review when ordering.

Colour Cascade Fabrics has a variety of fabrics for you to make this design unique. Tammy offers a 15% discount for readers of this site. Code is: CSReview. Offer ends 6 December 2014.

Europe:

Casa Cenina in Spain can order this chart in for you.  They also stock a variety of fabrics and floss for your unique creation.

United Kingdom:

Colray Crafts provides kits for this and other Heaven and Earth Designs.

Cross Stitch Heaven provides kits for Heaven and Earth Designs, contact Donna about kitting up Calypso if you are interested.

SewandSo  stocks DMC, plain evenweave fabrics and DMC Magic Guide fabric.

Sparklies “For this one, given the fabulous colours in the design, I would stick with either Ink or Pitch.”

Polstitches “earthen colours always enhance colour so would love to see it on Polstitches Heirloom”

Chromatic Alchemy  “Calypso is a stunning design with wonderfully rich colours, a dark fabric will really make him/her shine, shown here on Nox.”

United States:

123Stitch has the thread in stock and offers a variety of fabrics.

ABC Stitch Therapy has the chart and all materials in stock.

Discussion

Do you like Jo Lynch’s designs – would you stitch them in DMC or hand dyed silk floss?

Feedback

Did you like this review? Did it contain all the expected information? Is there anything you would like added or removed from the reviews? Do you know of a particular chart or designer you want to see featured here? If so, please head to the Suggestions page and let me know.

Last Updated: 26 November 2014

 

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