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.
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.
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
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
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
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