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Variegated & Over-dyed Threads      

        Multicolored fibers - that is, more than one color on the strand, have become widely available and can be wonderful to use. The title given to a multicolored thread depends on how it is created. The most common, and oldest, is variegated. This generally refers to a thread that is programmed, so as to speak. It consists of measured blocks of color, often progressing from light to dark and that pattern is repeated for the length of the thread. It's often created by mass production machinery, and done on a natural or no-color (bleached) thread base. Another form is space-dyed; this is a more ambiguous term, and generally indicates spaces of color on a fiber as opposed to it being one solid color, though not blocked. It can be created by machine or hand, using from 2 to many colors, beginning on a natural or bleached thread.

Shadow dyed threads intertwine light and shadow on previous dyed or colored threads. These fibers are generally one color (monochromatic), applying different values of the same hue to the thread.  The end result gives the thread an appearance similar to how the color "changes" depending on the light and angle when looking at velvet or waled corduroy. These are usually hand-dyed fibers.

Over-dyed is probably the most common today. This process is generally done by hand, and begins with a thread that has already been given a base color. Additional colors are then added on to it, over the base color. The placing is random, the base color usually shows in some places and may mix and mingle with the added dyes in others.

Another term that may come into play when discussing multicolored thread is ombre; this refers to a color arrangement rather than how a thread is dyed. Ombre means a gradation in shade or tone of one color. 

While there are technical differences based on how the colors are produced, the common vernacular terms tend to be variegated or over-dyed when talking about multicolored fibers, regardless of production type. A collection of hints and tips for using multicolored threads in temari as grown through the years. The first is in general use only one variegated thread in a given project. There are exceptions to this but remember, using a variegated thread automatically puts anywhere from 2 to upwards of 4 or 5 colors into your project. Selecting other hues to go with this can be perplexing. It is very difficult to predict where specific colors are going to pop out in a design. This is often magical to see happen as you work, but combining several "surprises" can also backfire.

        Pay attention to the working length of thread, and look at what is is displaying. There often can be small areas of the thread where the different dyes overlap and may create a less than pleasing hue. Some stitchers are careful to either trim these out, or bury them in the mari base while working so as to keep the displayed colors on track. When choosing the additional colors to work with the variegated thread in the project, it can help to pull off a length of the variegated long enough to see the whole color repeat pattern, and be sure that the accent colors being worked with will play happy with all those in the variegated.

        Most people use variegated thread as it comes off the skein as is, since the serendipity of watching the colors come forth in the stitching is delightful. However, there may be a time when one wants to "color-match" a variegated fiber - that is, the goal is to get the color to flow evenly rather than have a possible abrupt change when a new working length needs to be added. There are two ways to accomplish this: always thread the needle with the end that was just cut from the skein; this will keep things flowing pretty smoothly in terms of displaying on the temari as it appears in the color path in the fiber. A more precise process (from Janet P.) is to open the skein and start to straighten it.  Examine the skein as you are doing so to find where the sequence repeats; it will be different for each skein.  Cut the thread. Repeat this process until the thread is completely cut into lengths. This process should be used when you want an exact sequence of colors to appear everywhere in the design.        
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