The World of Threads – Part 4

Variegated Fibers

The links provided here are for your enjoyment and convenience only. The inclusion of these sites does not imply endorsement by EGA or any of its regions and chapters.

27 thoughts on “The World of Threads – Part 4

  1. This month we continue our discussion by talking about the world of threads made from “variegated fibers”. This includes threads called “variegated”, “over-dyed”, “hand-dyed”, “shadow-dyed”, etc. In general, “variegated fiber” means colors change along the fiber or the fiber is multi-colored – the other terms used reference the dyeing method used. Today there are many companies (both small and large) that make “variegated threads”. Primarily these are made from cotton, silk or silk/wool blend fibers (such as Impressions by Caron). Please feel free to add any that I missed by replying here.

  2. I’m sure most of us have used at least one of these types and have some in our stashes.

    Please join the discussion and share, by replying here:
    • Look at the threads in your stash – what “variegated” fiber threads do you have?

    • I have all the ones DMC makes. What I like is that some of them have 3 or 4 distincly different colors and others go from light to dark in a single color. I also have a variety of Caron’s in Waltercolours, Wildflowers, Waterlilies, etc.

    • I was stunned to discover how much of my stash is variegated threads. Like Rosemary, I like that they either have several distinct colors or contain various hues of the same color. Unlike Rosemary, I have very few from DMC. From the Caron Collection – I have lots of Watercolours, along with quite a bit of Wildflowers & Waterlilies.

      Most of my variegated threads are cottons such as Crescent Colours (now known as Classical Colorworks), Dinky Dyes (also have some of their silks), Weeks Dye Works, Needle Necessities, Threadworx, JP Coats Pastelles, Stranded by the Sea, Six Strand Sweets, and Rainbow Gallery’s Bravo, Encore & Overture.

      In addition to cotton variegated threads, I also have them in silk, metallic, rayon, and silk/wool blends.

      • WordPress makes me log-in so I apologize for the lonely ‘j’.
        I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE variegated/over-dyed threads. I can hardly use solid colors. Even the subtlest “movement” of color in a thread is so much more exciting for me to work with and to love the results. I feel like the variations add texture and life. But, as I think about my personal tastes, I realize that I have a very, very hard time using solid color fabrics in my quilts! I truly, physically, can’t bring myself to do anything solid except black or white. Even then, if I can find something with some variation in it, I will use it.

    • Sampler Threads (Gentle Arts), Weeks, Caron, Rainbow Gallery…. I even have some threads in my stash whose companies are no longer around. I do find that I am much more attracted to over-dyes versus variegated, as I feel that the color changes are more random and I can find more variety in the colors that I like to have more subtle variations in the flow of the thread.
      I do have a lot of skeins of orphan threads, especially from Caron, because I find that the dyelots vary from one to the next so I tend to over-order when I’m purchasing for a project. This is especially true because I don’t live anywhere close to a needlework shop. But, for the fun little projects that are in abundance, I can use those orphan skeins. It’s fun to have them in my stash. I love seeing them there.

  3. For our next challenge, related to these types of threads, find a pattern that illustrates the effects from using a multi-colored thread vs a solid thread. If you need some inspiration, try one or more of the following:
    • Lois Caron’s online class (Using Variegated Threads for Dramatic Effects) at – or any of the other online classes
    • One of the free patterns provided by Rainbow Gallery at
    • One of the Holed Up Minis, such as Pat Mazu’s Diagonal Flowers and Pat Dugan’s Fan Stitch Ornament (provided free by designers on ANG’s website) at
    If you don’t want to use these, you can use any pattern (to include one already stitched) or just a doodle cloth.

    CHALLENGE: Explore the effects created by the use of multi-colored threads vice solid-colored threads and share your “findings”. Here are some questions to help with your explorations.

  4. CHALLENGE QUESTION #1 – What kind of pattern did you choose for your exploration (geometric, figure, ornament, landscape, etc)? Did you achieve the look you wanted?

    • If you look at the Photo Gallery, you’ll see 2 works of mine where I used variegated threads. In my Balloons Along the Big Horns, I used those on mountains and grasses. In my Pueblo Owl, I used variegated for the “feathers” on his lower face. The look of the mountains is one of my absolute all-time favorites.

  5. CHALLENGE QUESTION #5 – Have you found any drawbacks for using variegated threads? Would they stop you from considering using them in the future? If so, why?

    • On something I just finished stitching, it has very large windows using Dense Rhodes and Jessica stitches in a very variegated thread. They turned out gorgeous! However, I’d beware of using variegated thread on small specialty stitches, because I think you’ll lose both the texture of the specialty stitch and meaningful color changes.

  6. Check back frequently as we continue to explore other types of threads and discuss challenges encountered. Please let us know what threads you would like to explore by replying here!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.