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Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... life ... art

What’s with all the blended colors?!
May 7th, 2011

Many people tell us, “I like your patterns so much — now if they just didn’t use blended colors!” or “There are 450 DMC colors — why isn’t that enough for you?”

Here’s what happens if you replace the blends in a couple of our patterns with the closest solid colors. The pictures on the left are the actual patterns, with blended colors — the ones on the right are using solid colors only.

With blends
With solids only

With blends
With solids only

Even in these small pictures it’s easy to see major differences. The flower, instead of having a continuum of shades of blue, has bands of obviously different colors. The same thing happens to the owl’s breast and head feathers. The sky, instead of being a deep blue, is just dark gray.

Here are closer views.

With blends
With solids only

With blends
With solids only

The solid-only versions don’t use as many colors, because in both patterns, there were several groups of blended colors that were all replaced by a single solid color. The morning glory dropped from 71 to 54 colors, and the owls dropped from 70 to 41 colors. That’s a lot of subtlety lost, not to mention the fact that many colors in paintings are really not close to ANY solid DMC color. The world is full of drab, dirty, unsaturated colors — not appealing colors for embroidery floss.

We know that many people would rather not stitch with blended colors, and we’ve tried many times for good results with solid colors, but regardless of what the picture is, the results are significantly less good than with blends. Yes, we could make such patterns available anyway, but there are plenty of patterns like that around already, and it just doesn’t seem worth our time or yours.

Another thing we hear frequently is “OK — some blended colors, but this is mostly blends!” We do use solid colors as much as possible, but again, usually they just don’t match very well.

The bottom line: we are really about the results, and sometimes the most worthwhile things are just more work. And maybe not THAT much more work. It’s true that you have to get out two colors instead of one and put them together, but most of the “more work” involved with blends is a matter of attitude. If you’re sitting there going “Grrr, blends, grrr, blends” it’s going to seem like a lot more work. We won’t say “Turn that frown upside down” because that would be super corny, but we WILL say that often attitude is a matter of choice. But as always, stitching should be fun, so if you hate blends and can’t get past that, we’ll be the first to say “Stitch something else.”

21 Responses to “What’s with all the blended colors?!”
  1. From Divecat
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I second that comment! I almost gave up on Ehret when I first started as it was so much more complex than the stuff I’d done before. Boy, I am glad I persevered! Plus, it would be boring if we all did stuff we knew we could do rather than pushing outselves to achieve more. All hail SQ!

    Complexity (amount of color changes) is a whole other dimension, independent of the number of blended colors. Many of our charts ARE very complex (particularly the tapestries, including Ehret) and would be even if they were all solid colors. But many are much simpler, or have only limited areas that are highly mixed. In general you can tell — if there’s lots of detail it’s going to be complex, but we’re working on some way of indicating complexity so that people can know in advance what they’re getting into.

  2. From Sue Minerath
    13 years, 1 month ago

    This is my first big project with blended threads. The results are gorgeous and I can’t imagine how my SQ piece could be done without blended threads. It’s exciting to see the picture emerge as work progresses. I would encourage anyone who has an aversion to the idea of blended threads to give it a try.

  3. From Cecilia
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I couldn’t agree more that blended colors are the way to go when you are looking for a realistic piece with maximum depth. So glad that you showed the difference between blended and solid pieces – so interesting!

    However, not all blended designs are equal – I personally prefer SQ. The only time when I do a ‘solids piece is when the stitches are extremely tiny and I can only use 1 strand (25ct, for example) – then I also find the result to be nice.

  4. From Dee
    13 years, 1 month ago

    When I ordered my first pattern from SQ, I have not done any cross-stitched project before. My sister, who has done several has it beautifully framed and displayed all over her house. I asked her if it is difficult to do one and she said, “Oh no, all you have to do is count the stitches.” “What, count the stitches on a blank canvas????!!” I said immediately that I can’t do it. However, one of my co-worker who does cross-stitch during her lunch break made me search the web for patterns and I ended up on your website. I was so pleased with what I saw and placed my first order. When I showed it to my co-worker, she was impressed and she showed me how to start it and I was on my merry way. My co-worker’s comment was “I skipped all grades and jumped to college” with my cross-stitching adventure. I didn’t have any problem with the blended threads at all. I love it and I wouldn’t do any other project without blended threads. I prepped my blended threads in thousand needles (ha-ha) and I was a happy camper. I have since ordered more patterns from your company. Thank you.

  5. From bea
    13 years, 1 month ago

    Glad to be filled in on the blended look. I have a pattern that requires blended stitches. I didn’t think it would make a difference, but now I see the difference. This was a pattern of a lady with an orange dress (low cut neckline) and a large dressy hat. The neckline was the blended area.

    Bye for now and Happy Stitching

  6. From Julie
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I agree that the fuss about blended colors is a matter of attitude. Once I have the two colors cut, then it takes no more work to pull one strand from each color than it does to pull two strands of the same color. It all comes down to how our eyes and brains process these anyway. An identical blend can look totally different depending on the other colors/blends nearby. For example, in the Seurat (Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte) a stitch was green like the lawn but less than an inch away, this exact blend turned into gray in a tree trunk. This could never happen with solids, so keep on blending!

  7. From Caroline
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I don’t understand these protests against blended colors. That is what SQ is all about — depth and artistry in stitching. There are many, many choices available for those who want a simpler, more color-block approach. Please do not even think about watering down the subtlety and vibrance of SQ charts because of some complaints. Those complaints seem to me wholly misguided; the dissatisfied are simply looking at the wrong product, and should shop elsewhere and let SQ do its thing — which is beautiful, and highly prized by many.

  8. From Christy S.
    13 years, 1 month ago

    Last year I finished my first SQ piece, Splendid the orange crate label, and it was my first project using lots of blends. I loved the results so much that I am currently rotating through four SQ pieces. I just did some work on Take the Fair Face of Woman, starting on the window that is in the upper left of the design, and the amount of shading and detail was just stunningly gorgeous. It felt like slow going with the huge number of symbols but boy did it look great afterwards! Thank you for producing such amazing and detailed cross stitch patterns…they will surely keep me busy for years to come.

  9. From Joan Lambert
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I see no problem working with blended threads – more an attitude thing! The results producing the artwork that you supply is well worth any finesse with thread.

  10. From Vera
    13 years, 1 month ago

    My first work with blended colours (The kiss from Gustav Klimt) is becoming very nice.
    But I have to admit that the difference in the used colour combinations is sometimes so small, that it is hardly noticible. But I will surely place a new order with you in the future
    (delivery to Belgium went perfectly)

  11. From Linda
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I have done 2 SC patterns so far and I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. I prep all my threads ahead of time, before I start stitching. It requires ALOT of bobbins but saves so much time that can be used stitching. For the blended colors, I cut one 18″ length of each of the colors used in the blend and strip them out, then wind each pair on the bobbin. I use the color labels with the symbol on them and place that on the bobbin and file all in a very large bobbin box in numerical order. Then when you stitch you have 6 pairs ready to use and only have to re-blend when you run out. You spend about 2 days ahead of time blending all your bobbins, but after that, just stitch.

  12. From Anita
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I actaully ordered “A Starry Night”…and was a bit overwhelmed when I first saw the pattern. But knowing that this is my daughter’s favorite painting, imagine how she will love this very detailed work on her wall.
    Like some of the others I prepped all my blends on individual bobbins, and also loaded all the needles for a “set area”. At first I was doing one block at a time, but have gotten better at moving the markers to see what might be ahead, that is close enough to move to. The slight variation in the dark blues, and grays really make a difference in how the work looks.
    This is so detailed that on occasion I have to sit it down and do an easier piece just to give myself a break….but having such clear instructions makes this a much easier piece to work than most.

  13. From Evelyn
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I’ve just finished my second copy of the Lascaux horse (both grown children wanted it), and found some of the blended colors challenging. In between I did all the dark parts of Vermeer’s View of Delft, to keep the lighter parts cleaner, then went on to that second horse. In the meantime, I learned to grid my aida as it is gridded in the instructions and to photocopy my pattern pages and color in what I have done with RETRACTABLE Sharpie highlighter in pink, so that I have the outlines as reference. I do make mistakes, so I go over those in yellow, which hides the pink. Then as I correct my errors and fill in singletons, I go over those yellow squares in green, because pink doesn’t cover yellow. I prep my colors, fill my bobbins with the blended strands, use the wonderful labels, and instead of returning the blend to its bobbin, I stick the needle still partially threaded into a bulletin board of half-inch thick foamie by Creatology(tm) marked with the symbol on the blank labels cut in half. No, Meredith, it wasn’t easier the second time, but all my tricks helped a lot. I realized, just one time, that I had done a sequence of stitches in the same way as before. I’ve been in the real Lascaux cave and the effect of the blends works to give a sense of the calcite deposits that protected the ice age cave art. When two strands are really too close in color, I cut one color longer than the other. I’ll never finish the pre-SQ projects I have, this is so much more satisfying! And the Vermeer (almost 180,000 stitches — the horse is only 29,000) will take a long, long, and wide, wide time!

  14. From susan
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I just received my first SQ pattern in the mail today. It is ” the Story book”. It’s mostly blended colours but I am organized and excited to start. I am looking forward to the blended colours, because I believe the blended colours will be the difference between cross-stitching something that is just “okay”, compared to something I will be proud to display on my wall as a focal point.

  15. From Gabriela
    13 years, 1 month ago

    Blended or not blended is absolutely no question !!!
    I have been cross stitching since the late 1950s but even the best and most expensive patterns never produced the results I had from SQ-patterns.
    I am about three quarters through with my ninth pattern (Flora) and am already planning the next one (Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler)
    Even when I am exhibiting to large crowds (see gallery) everybody is amazed by the subtle blend of colours and most people believe the pictures are painted before they see them up close.
    So please do go on producing the high quality patterns all your appreciative customers are used to.

  16. From Eveline Simpson
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I stand in awe of the expertise that must go into producing your patterns. I have begun a project to give each of my Grandchildren a Scarlet Quince cross stitch as a wedding present and the one I am completing now is Wainright’s “My Sweet Rose”. I am thrilled with the effect that the blended colours give. Please don’t change anything.My next one will be “Monarch of the Glen”.

  17. From Daniela
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I am amazed by the amount of work of some of the people who posted comments – the work invested in blending the threads ahead of the stitching on bobbins. What I did was to use ziploc bags in which I placed the two skeins of the blended symbol. When I need to load the needle I simply pull one thread from each skein taking care to cut them the same length. This allows me to keep the tags onto the skeins and avoid confusion of the nuances.
    The ziploc bags are perforated in the upper left corner, tied together in groups with plastic rings (bath curtain rings to be honest) and marked with the symbol tags delivered by SQ. The tags are placed inside the bag on the back side so that I can see them trough the transparent bag, but they would be protected from wear and tear during the long time it takes to complete a project. I’m currently working on “A mon seul desire” since three years.

  18. From Dawn
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I love the effect of the blending, I am working on my first SQ and although only about one third of the way through, the subtle blending is making the experience an absolute joy. I really do feel like an “artist” seeing my work come to life. I cant imagine ever going back to any other style and already have my next three SQ patterns lined up. : )

  19. From Kim
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I absolutely agree that blended colors give the best finished product. I am currently doing Midsummers Eve, an it will take a looooong time to finish (180,000 stitches) but it will be so worth it.

  20. From robinoes
    13 years, 1 month ago

    I’ve worked so long with blends that I hardly give it thought. The subtlety of color it provides is worth any perceived extra effort.

  21. From Janet
    13 years ago

    I think a lot of stitchers do not want to spend the time in the preparation it takes before you even put the needle in the cloth. They are in such a hurry to get started. Like anything that is worthwhile it takes preparation. SQ charts are more than ‘off the shelf’ and the pleasure is in the stitching and the final result.

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