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 Threads and Dyes         

        Obviously, there can be many differences in the appearance of threads within and between manufacturers. Pearl cotton and stranded  floss from DMC and Anchor are the mainstay fibers many people use. In DMC, color numbers are standard across their color line in that if you choose color XXX, it will be the same in floss, pearl and the other DMC products.  This is true in many, but not all, thread manufacturers.

        Regardless of manufacturer and even with no dye lot, remember that different fiber types will "take" dye differently; texture and sheen can vary and will impact color appearance. Dyes can affect the base thread differently (when a thread is dyed it's a chemical reaction) and can result in a minor change in texture of a thread - which is why you will often find that darker colors of thread are a tiny bit "thicker" than lighter colors. Also, even though colors are supposed to be standard in some products (as in no dye lots) - this is not always a given, since no one can control what happens in the environment to threads once they leave the factory. Threads that are stored in less than ideal circumstances can fade, absorb moisture, get dusty or be eroded (roughed up) so that the appearance is less than ideal - and this is not the manufacturer's fault (though it might mean you should be looking for a different fiber store).

        Many companies and products DO have dye lots - that is, even though "Color A" is being prepared according to "formula" - each time a batch of "Color A" is made there will always be a very subtle difference between batches; it can't be helped because of fiber and chemistry. Therefore, each batch is a "dye lot", usually indicated by a combination of numbers and/or letters.  It is always a good practice to purchase or obtain enough thread in the same color AND dye lot at the same time to complete a project, so that you are not finding yourself with subtle (or not so subtle) differences in appearance in a project.  In fact, there is always a "dye lot" - but, in modern technology most times the quality control is held to a tight enough standard that the variance in dye lot is so small as it cannot be seen with the human eye, so the product is advertised as "no dye lot" - which is overall a good thing most of the time. For example - DMC (the last we checked) guarantees their dye lots to be 98% accurate - as in there is only a 2% chance that if you grab a skein now and a skein later of the same color, you are going to be able to "see" a difference in it.

       Another things to remember is that shades of blue (and colors that use blue, like gray and sometimes greens) can over time, take on a brownish appearance. This is not dirt or soiling; the chemicals use in blue-based  colors oxidize over time when exposed to the atmosphere, and change to the brownish hue (think rust). Once it happens, it cannot be "undone". This is why older threads in these colors can seem to have a different tinge compared to new threads in the same color.

         When it comes to pricing differences between companies - well, often times there is a reason for it. If a company starts with a higher quality base thread, generally it will take the dyes better and more consistently, and also have a better wear and drape to it. It will generally avoid things like slubs, and have an overall smoother, more consistent texture and sheen (if applicable to the fiber). Does this matter? It's a matter of personal choice and what your project is.

        Even thought DMC threads are supposed to be the same across the board (that is, Floss #498 red is suppose to be the same in #3 perle, #5 perle, #8 perle, #12 perle, Medici wool, floche and rayon floss). However, because of the different fibers of the threads (i.e. cotton, wool and rayon) they will appear differently. And, the texture of each type of thread plays a roll in its appearance: i.e. cotton floss can be smooth, if laid it will have a shine to it also; perle cotton has a twist and so it will reflect light differently. Wool is a nap thread and so it appears flat or duller than other threads. Floche is a cotton also and if laid can have a shine but it really is more of a matte/flat look. Rayon and metallic are shinny and bright. Different threads of the same color will appear differently because of light refraction and reflection.

        Because of the dye regulations in the US, colors that have a red pigment seem to be more difficult to consistently dye the same. This can show up in blues, grays and greens also. Combine this with the factor that each thread takes the dye differently and you see where the variances can come in. A rule of thumb is to always buy enough of a color at the same time, check the dye lot (if there is one). It is better to have nine yards too much than to be short 36 inches. And DMC is not the only one that has dye lot variances; all threads have these differences. Over-dyes (over-dyed threads are ones that are first dyed a certain color and then have more colors applied over that. There will always be a certain degree of variance in the procedure, which is what adds to the final appearance) are the worst! Not only will an over-dye have a different dye lot, the color range can change and even if two skeins appear to have the same color range the length of color may vary. ALWAYS buy enough over-dye to complete your project at the same time...if you need large amounts ask your retailer to special order the over-dye and it is even helpful to send a skein of the color you like. It will not be an exact match but at least the color range will be close.

        As you use the perle cotton, it will lose its luster/shine buy the constant pull through the ground. Since we use very long lengths of thread in temari this can be a problem and some colors will show this wear more readily than others. You will notice less of difference in a wrapped temari as you will in a stitched temari. If you are doing a lot of "unstitching" (as in correcting mistakes), there comes a point when you do need to  use a new piece of thread, or you'll regret it later.

        If you know at the outset of your project that you are stuck with two different dye lots, then you can make the difference between the two practically invisible if you intermingle the colors: a row or two of A, a row or two of B, repeat. the dye lots will usually be close enough that your eye will blend the two shades into one color if they are intermingled. It is when you have a big block of one next to a big block of the other that your eye picks up the difference, and you're in trouble.

        While many manufacturers market as no dye lot, there always is, even it not discernible. However, neither do they guarantee no variation. The actual color can  vary even within the same wholesale packaging.  So, if color consistency is a major concern for you, be careful buying the threads and examine the color closely in good light since what you see in any given bin is not necessarily the same.  That said, usually the dye lot difference is pretty small and for most purposes doesn't make a big difference.  Unfortunately it is the one time it does that always gets you.

        While it's not usual that temari get wet, colorfastness is something to bear in mind. Some fibers will not have color run if they get wet - others turn into paint boxes. Be careful to not have liquids, even water, spill on your work or threads. Some people also need to be careful with perspiration from their hands.

With thanks to TalkTemari members...

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