Celtic Summer – finding substitutes for Robin’s Egg Needlepaints, and deciding which fabric to use

I want to make the Lavender and Lace ‘Celtic Summer’ cross stitch picture soon – partly because it’s very pretty, and also because I’m making the whole set of four seasons, plus the Christmas one (eventually).

However, I have a problem.

Everyone who wants to stitch this design has a problem.

That’s because when the designer, Marilyn Leavitt Imblum, was designing it, she couldn’t find the exact shade of grey-green thread that she wanted for the dress, so she had some manufactured, and sold the skeins under the name ‘Needlepaints’. All good so far. But now these threads aren’t available (well, the lilac and purple shades in the range still are, apparently, but not these ones, which are known as the ‘Robin’s Egg’ shades. And Celtic Summer uses all six of the Robin’s Egg shades. So, just substitute colours from other manufacturers’ ranges, right? Well, no, not really. I have looked everywhere for decent substitutions, but I have found that it’s very difficult to find (a) good images online to compare substitutions with the originals, (b) anyone who’s actually got the whole range of the substituted thread to sell to me, and (c) substitutions that actually work.

By the way, it doesn’t help that the chart pack image is not one of a stitched model – it’s a computer generated chart without the grid lines, so the colours have all come out looking ‘hot’, and not realistic at all.

Celtic Summer original colourway

I did manage to find several places online which gave really helpful advice, though.

On the Told In A Garden website (Marilyn’s company)  it says: “The DMC low 500 series (504/3813, 503, 502, 501, 501+500, 500) is not as blue or deep but will work in the designs using the 2100 series of Needlepaints. You might want to adjust the blending to get six shades.”

On Julies’ X Stitch, she has a very helpful chart in colour, showing how a slightly different selection of DMC threads would look, compared to the original Needlepaints:

Needlepaints Robin's egg shades to DMC thread equivalents
Needlepaints Robin’s egg shades to DMC thread equivalents

On the Needle In A Haystack website, there is an image with the Robin’s Egg Needlepoints shown in colour, with Finca brand substitution numbers listed:

Needlepaints with Finca suggestions - 1Needlepaints with Finca suggestions - 2

At first, I thought I’d use the Finca threads, but after buying them, I felt they looked too drab with the other threads for this design. I also thought they didn’t really go well with the purple shades of Needlepaints threads (which I *HAD* managed to buy online).

I then bought the DMC threads as suggested by Julie’s Cross Stitch, but again, I thought these were too drab. So, I got my own DMC thread shade card out, and started from scratch. I decided to use these shades: 3811, 598, 597, 3810, 3809, 3808. These are shown below, along with the Finca shades I bought first, for comparison on the right. The purple Needlepaints threads are along the top.

Summer 5

My selection on the left is much more tealy than the suggestions given when people are trying to make a close match with the Needlepaints, but I’d seen this alternative colourway below, and although there were no thread lists given with it, I loved the sharper contrast between the purples and the teals.


I saw another version, on a green fabric, and loved that, too:

Polstitches colourway on their silversage fabric GALLERY_celticsummer

So, with the threads decided on, I now had to choose the fabric. Another problem  – I couldn’t use the fabric suggested on the chart pack, as that needed the original grey-toned threads for it to work, so I had to make my own choice. I decided to lay out the threads on various pieces of 28 count evenweave linen that I had in my stash, to see what worked. First up, Zweigart Platinum – a ‘safe’ choice, but a bit dull.

Summer 1

Next up is Cashel linen in ‘Natural’. This is what I am going to stitch Celtic Christmas on. Again, it’s OK, but a bit dull for this colourway. I think it would do if I had nothing else to use.

Summer 2

I had bought this ‘Silversage’ 28 count hand dyed linen from Polstitches when I’d thought I would be able to buy the proper Robin’s Egg Needlepaints from somewhere, but it’s far too greeny-yellow to use with my DMC teal substitutions, although it’s nice fabric for a different project!

Summer 3

This is what I’ve decided to use in the end – it’s ‘Jacaranda Haze’ – a hand dyed fabric from Stitches & Spice, in Australia. Yes, that’s right – to get the right fabric for the project, I had to buy it from the other side of the world! But it is really beautiful – a lilacy-grey, with very subtle mottling. The teals look fantastic on it (the photo doesn’t really do it justice). The only thing I might still have to change is one of the colours of beads – the light green ones, second from the top in the photo below – for something more tealy.

Summer 4

So, that was easy, wasn’t it?! No!!! But it’s important to get the fabric and thread choice right for a project like this, as it’s going to take about 90 hours to stitch it, I reckon. At least I’m ready to begin stitching now.


Dollhouse Needlepoint newsletter sign-up invitation




11 thoughts on “Celtic Summer – finding substitutes for Robin’s Egg Needlepaints, and deciding which fabric to use”

  1. Hi Janet,
    I stitched my Celtic Summer on Ecru evenweave instead of the Khaki Cashel Linen that the chart suggested and I was very happy with the finished results. There were some of the Needlepaints left over which I’d be happy to send to you but I can’t be sure there would be enough for the whole design and I would hate for you to run out nearing the end.

    I’ve just finished Celtic Autumn for which you kindly sent me the leaf chart and have just started on Celtic Winter, which is my 5th and final one.

    Happy Stitching!

    1. Hi Sue, thanks for the offer of the threads but I think the tealy ones I’ve settled on now will be fine. Yes, running out near the end would be heart-breaking after all that stitching! I did enjoy looking at the images of the Celtic Summer on your site – they were very inspirational for me. I’m going to do Celtic Winter soon, hopefully, but in a deep blue shade for the dress, and with the woman having silver grey hair. They’re amazing designs – I never get tired of looking at them.

  2. I have found this information absolutely priceless……I have had all 5 of these charts for 5 years and have never been able to do the Celtic Summer because of the same problem stated here, a huge thank you Janet I am indebted to you as now I can finish my collection…..also liked your Pinterest pins with all the colour variations on the ones I have already completed, makes me want to do the Winter one again, and again…..

  3. Seeing this post reminded me how spectacular the Lavender and Lace designs are. I like your final choice of fabric and colours. It should look fabulous. Have fun doing it!

  4. Hi,
    Did you end up changing the color of the minty beads? If you did could you let me know what you substituted it with? Thank you!

    1. Hi, I haven’t got around to stitching this yet, but I decided not to change the colour of the minty beads. The photo doesn’t really show up the colours properly, but the beads and the teal threads don’t actually clash, and the minty beads are mainly for the patterned border anyway, away from the dress, so I don’t think it’s worth changing the beads. I just need the time to stitch this, as it will be lovely when it’s done!

  5. Hi Janet, I almost finish Celtic Spring after 5 years!!!! I have all the collection and want to start celtic summer. That shades you sustite can you tell me which one are? I mean 3811 is NP2101? 598 is 2102? 597 is 2103, and……please can you tell me? Thanks!!!

      1. Hi Janet, it was great to read your information about Celtic Summer. I was fortunate enough to buy everything I needed for the 5 in the set from Stitches and Spice at a local Brisbane Craft Show years ago…unfortunately the needlepaints were not included, and I didn’t realise that. Imagine the scramble about 4 years ago to find them….eventually did and I have just completed Celtic Summer. Stitches and Spice is no longer active, which is a shame. I chose all my linens with the lady and she matched with thread that was dyed to blend for the beading. Starting Celtic Spring…😊

      2. That’s a pity that Stitches & Spice is no longer going – there are fewer and fewer outlets for stitching supplies now, and that one was a good one! Enjoy stitching the rest of the Celtic ladies!

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: