Monday, February 15, 2010

Getting excited...

My first package of goodies arrived on Friday, and I'm awaiting several more packages of goodies to come as I prepare to dig in and do some serious model stitching over the next few months.

I received a parcel from Gloriana of GORGEOUS Vanilla, in silk floss and silk perle for my hearts sampler. This is one of those "must have" colours for any silk enthusiast. It's a soft variation from a light cream to a deeper, richer cream, and is wonderful for soooo many things. I'll be using it for the lace in the design, but I really forsee several designs in future using it. It's so versatile, it could be used on a dark fabic for monochrome stitching, on light fabric for whitework style stitching, and that tiny bit of variation just adds an antique elegance I can't explain in words. Now I have to wait (not so) patiently for the NPI threads and Lakeside linen to get here so I can dive in head first! I still haven't officially named this design, and I'm open to suggestions. Temporarily, I've been calling it "Victorian Hearts", but that might change yet.

I'm also awaiting a BIG parcel from Arizona... I finally ordered the Crescent Colours Belle Soie silk set and I'm eagerly anticipating some serious silk fondling. I've been picking up a few colours of this thread here and there, and I'm in love with Sharon's style. She's got a real eye for sampler colours, her threads have a beautiful flow from light to dark shades and are just awesome to use in substitution for solid colours. While I love the bold colours from Dinky Dyes, and I love the dramatic colours from Gloriana, I think this series will make a lovely compliment to both of these in future designs. And since I have sooooo many new designs coming, what better time to increase my arsenal of thread colours?

On the design front - I'm waiting for my Belle Soie to pick colours for a few more new designs. Forget me nots are ready to stitch, Tulips and Daffodils are almost there, and Daisies are well underway. Still to come are quite probably Violets, Roses, Tiger Lilies and Bluebells. I'm going to have so much fun picking colours for these! And I'm excited, because the aida stitchers out there will finally be able to stitch something of mine, because this whole series is just plain old cross stitch. Of course I'll be stitching mine on 40ct Magnolia. ;)

I've also started work on a new band sampler. It will be a monochrome and quite probably be stitched in Gloriana's Vanilla as well. I really, really, really want to stitch this on a burgundy red fabric, though I'm having a tough time finding one in 40ct. I've found a couple, but they're either not widely available to stitchers or they're just plain too expensive to justify using. I may have to just accept that 40ct might not happen this time and just go with 32ct, since Ruby Wine Belfast is exactly the colour I'm looking for. This one will be a combination of cross stitch and specialty stitches as are most of my designs, and what I really want to play up in this one is texture. I anticipate that this will use silk floss, silk perle in two weights and quite possibly wool thread to accomplish this, but who knows until I really get going. :)

I'm also expecting some personal stash... I ordered a whole bunch of Carrie's Creations silks, I've been itching to try them out. I also finally caught up my collections to the most current colours - of course with Nashville this weekend, I'll have to catch up again in a week. And I ordered something "just for me". I finally kitted up Alpine Garden. Of course, I won't be starting it until I finish up with the two Chatelaines I already have on the go, and I'll be doing a whole lot of model stitching in the next while, but at least now it's ordered and I CAN start it when I finish my other two Chatelaines. Alhambra and Romantic Rose Garden are both about 2/3 done now. And I ordered a hank of silk perle #12 from HDF for my Whitework Sampler, and a couple of custom colours in really bright blues. I also really want to order the Mini of the Month colours, as Vikki's added a couple new reds that look interesting and I'd like to check them out, but that will have to wait until later in the month as I have a ton of model threads I need to buy first!

On another note, and touching back on my ever growing "thread arsenal"... I'm going through a bit of a dilemma, which is, "how much thread do I really need?". First, here's what I have... an NPI colour card, and full collections of Gloriana, Dinky Dyes and soon Belle Soie. I also have an almost complete tag set from HDF, a colour sample set from Eterna, and a full set of Sassy's Strings but I use those more for conversions than anything else now, simply because of their lack of availability to stitchers who don't use the internet to get their supplies.

Here's my dilemma. In doing some business planning, I've been trying to figure out what I still want/need to get to complete my thread arsenal. I know I have a decent collection going on, and that some may see future collecting as overkill or me being greedy, but I like to have my bases covered. I'd rather have ten choices for "the perfect blue" than have to search for one through pictures over the internet! I also know that not all threads are available at every shop, and it's important to me to be able to work with shops and stitchers alike to find colours that will work well for them in whatever is readily available to them. My decisions on what sets to buy largely depends on three factors. Do they have colours that are different enough from other companies? How easy is it for me to get samples and/or model threads? And finally, are they widely available to stitchers everywhere?

I'm fairly sure that at some point I will pick up the full line of Silk n' Colors, I do love the colours in this line, and I can see using them often. They're widely available in needlework shops everywhere and have a great array of colours. The company makes it very easy to purchase threads for models and colour samples. However, it's a big set - about 350 colours - even for a sample set it's a bit on the expensive side for me to purchase all at once. So I've already resigned myself to the fact that this will have to wait a while, but it will happen eventually.

I want an AVAS colour card, but I have a huge debate raging in my head about it. I love AVAS, and I love the huge selection of colours that they do. I use them frequently in my own personal stitching so I generally have a good supply on hand. The other benefit is that the shades that I find NPI's range lacks, AVAS has, so it's a good supplement to the solid colours I already have. I would also like to have it so that I can do conversions for shops that do carry AVAS instead of NPI. As far as how easy it is to aquire threads for models, I simply don't know at this point, I haven't yet needed to investigate this avenue. So I will probably get one when I come across a colour I need that NPI is missing. I do have a pretty huge collection of these already in my stash, so I might not need the card anytime soon.

As far as solid threads go, there is also the Splendor angle to consider. While I really like the threads, and the colours I've used are very pretty, do they offer anything that NPI or AVAS don't apart from being a bit more affordable, and how widely available are they to stitchers? I know they offer a colour card, which is a bonus. However, I find that their ranges are pretty limited - some only have 3 shades in the range, so I don't know how helpful they'd be. I don't know how easy they are to get for models, again, I've never needed to. And, the bulk of my designs use variegated threads, so another set of solid colours might be a little redundant and unneccessary. So these are a maybe, but probably not.

Next dilemma. Do I bother with a set of Northern Lights silks? I have several, and I love them. I also love that they co-ordinate beautifully with the NPI solids. Here's the dilemma - NPI doesn't do a colour card for them like they do for the solids. They also don't offer a discounted sample set, which is a bit expensive given that I won't actually be stitching with them and would just be using them for colour consideration. They are also currently very limited in their colours, with only 70 in the current set, and of those 70, most aren't that unique that I can't find something similar that would work just as well in another brand. However, I can get model threads easily and as I said previously, I really like them. Pondering their usefulness at this point in time, as I think this would be more of a personal stash aquisition than one I would frequently use for models.

And on to one of my biggest dilemmas. Caron Soie Cristale and Waterlilies. They don't do colour samples as far as I can see. They do printed cards, one for solid and one for variegated, both of which I have and both or which are pretty useless as far as determining what a colour REALLY looks like. I have tried on several occasions to contact them about designer samples and I never get a response, so I've resigned myself to the fact that if I want these, I'm going to have to get them at retail price, for both samples and model threads. On top of this is the fact that there is a huge variance in dye lots, so colour samples really aren't going to be that useful given that I might pick a colour based on a skein I already have, only to find that when I buy threads for a model that it doesn't look anything like what I wanted. And finally, one of the things I dislike about Waterlilies is that on a lot of the colours, the colour repeats are really, really long - like 18" per colour or more. That forces me to have to use seriously long threads to stitch with to get the variegation in my stitching, or to cut several lengths and work from several at a time instead of just one, else my stitching looks looks like blotches of solid colour all concentrated in specific areas. So why do I want them? Well, a LOT of shops carry them, especially the Waterlilies, so they're a good thread to have on hand for that reason. They're also very pretty, with some fantastic colours. And finally, they're a dream to stitch with. I really love how they stitch up. But does that justify the negatives? Right now, mostly because of the cost factor, I'd have to say no.

And I'm debating a set of Carrie's silks. I love her cotton colours, and I have some silks on the way to play with to see how I like the thread itself. If I like the thread, this might be a good set to own and use for models. The positives - Carrie has a great range of colours some solid-ish and some heavily overdyed. She also has some very unique colours that aren't similar to other companies. Thread samples and model threads are relatively painless to get and Carrie is lovely to work with. And they are affordable for stitchers, more so than some of the other threads on the market. The drawbacks though are the same as those for some of my other favourite threads. The availability in shops is pretty limited. If a stitcher doesn't have an internet connection, they might have a tough time finding them, depending on how willing shops are to order them. That's really the only major drawback, but is a relatively big one. If a stitcher can't find the materials, it's usually a pretty good bet that they won't buy the chart. I've said lots of times that I'm not in this to make a forture, but I would like to see people stitching my charts!

And finally, how far do I go to offer conversions? My last considerations are sets of overdyed cottons, namely Weeks Dye Works, Crescent Colours and Valdani. Maybe Gentle Arts. If I were to buy these, it would strictly be for conversions, as I don't really stitch in cotton and can't really see using them in models. However, I know lots of stitchers like cottons and would love to have conversions to overdyed cotton instead of just solid DMC. So more just pondering. I'd have to say probably not, at least not right now.

Some insight into the inner workings of my mind. Helps to understand why I ramble the way I do with so many things bouncing around in this skull of mine, no?

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