Thursday, 13 October 2016

Hand dyed embroidery threads

It is said I'm a tad picky about many things and if my housemates read this, they'll be laughing at me for the understatement of the century.    Having recently bought a bulk lot of embroidery threads of varying types, I've already sorted them into colour groups and picked out the pastels.

I don't do pastels.

It's not that I haven't tried, but I can't get on with them. I do my best work in jewel shades, autumnal shades, and more vibrant colours. Sorbets are about as pale as I like to get.  

So with all these pastels, I've spent a couple of days over-dying them in rich jewel colours.  Not only that, But there's nothing more delicious when embroidering, than using space dyed threads.  So I've created several rainbow skeins, some rich purples, orange/browns, magentas and turquoise.  All my favourite colours.

It took some doing, and I totally invaded the kitchen yesterday and the day before that.  Today was spent winding the skeins onto card, which I find is the best way to store them, as you can tuck loose ends into slits in the card.   I have some space-dyed threads in a bag in my drawer from over ten years ago. They're still intact and just as bright as the day I dyed them... but they are beginning to dwindle  a bit, so I've made a new batch.

SO MANY  skeins!

It's hard to capture the depth of shades with  the camera, but these look mouthwatering, and I'll be making some needlepoint thingies with it all.

My room is so crammed with craft stuff, I currently have all my embroidery threads in a box which lives pretty much on the bedroom floor.  I just need that one more empty drawer - which in my room is never going to happen.

I tried to find an online tutorial so I could post a link here, but there doesn't seem to be anything similar to what I do with my threads.   This one is very good  But they are dying wool, which uses acid dyes. I've been dying cotton and rayon, for which procion MX fibre reactive dyes are best.  

Basically you need acid dyes for animal based thread, such as wool or silk, and fibre reactive dyes for vegetable based threads, such as cotton, rayon/viscose, and bamboo, etc.

Handprinted is a good website for information on dyes, and the dyes themselves.  It's where I buy all my dyes.  I imagine people lining in the USA can find websites and suppliers based over the pond, but for the UK, this is a good retailer.  They also have free information on what dyes to choose, and how to use them.

I wind my threads into long skeins, arrange them in a ceramic or glass bowl, over some clingfilm (saran wrap)  and drip the different colour dyes where I want them.  I then wrap the threads in the clingfilm and leave them for a few hours.

It is a wee bit involved, and you need to focus on what you're doing, but so worth it.  It's much cheaper than buying space-dyed threads and yarns too... although I have ordered some Anchor and DMC space dyed embroidery thread to enhance my projects.  I just can't resist the pretty.

I've also ordered some white perle cotton 5, and will dye that once it arrives.  You can dye over pastel threads, in fact any colour, but the original colour will of course affect the result.  if you dye a blue yarn with yellow dye, for example, you get green thread.  Likewise, if you have say, green threads you don't like very much, you can over-dye them with yellow for a gorgeous olive or lime green green, or with blue, for a lovely ocean green.

The white I've ordered, is for a purer batch of colours.

As a side note, cotton perle 5 is great for 14 count mono canvas. I use Zweigart interlock.

I'll post the results of my next batch as and when.   And of course the needlepoint projects they're destined for.


  1. Such gorgeous colours you are clever!

    1. Thanks Trish. I can't wait to work with these :)


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