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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.