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Welcome to a class instructed by Lois Caron of the CARON Collection.

Using Variegated Threads for Dramatic Effects
(Click on the pictures below for larger examples.)

(Shown above the variation possible on a simple pattern when using hand-dyed variegated threads. Hand dyed thread will add a whole new dimension to your stitching.)

"SATIN LIGHTS" Design Size: 42 x 42 threads


  • 4 yd Impressions
  • 4 yd Wildflowers
  • 1 yd Watercolours
  • 1 yd Waterlilies


  • 4x4" Congress cloth or any 25 ct evenweave linen


  • #22 and #24 tapestry 


Watercolours is a 3-ply pima cotton. Separate and use one ply in this design

Wildflowers is a single strand cotton. Stitch with two strands in your needle

Waterlilies is a 12-ply silk. Use 3 or 4 plies, depending on the desired effect

Impressions is a 50%wool, 50% silk. Use one strand for a textured effect, two strands for a thick satiny look.


  • Work each row in a different thread.
  • The entire pattern, with the exception of the finishing outer row is composed of satin stitches. Satin stitches are vertical or horizontal stitches worked over several threads of the ground fabric. Start with the center row and work subsequent rows around it.
  • The stitches will lie better if you work from an empty hole into a full hole.
  • The finished design fits the Sudberry House ring box or can be made into a pendant or ornament.


1. Choosing your colors. The original design was worked from scraps of threads with no particular attention to choice of color. Feel free to do the same or select a coordinated combination. If you wish to use the same colors as in our example, we used the following: Watercolours, 014, Sunset; Wildflowers, 075, Sunrise; Impressions, 4015, Lemon Yellow; and Waterlilies, 086, Tahiti.

2. Working with the threads. If you open the skeins and cut through the knot, you will have all one-yard lengths of thread. The models were worked with threads of this length. If you are more comfortable with shorter lengths of thread, cut the skein at either end for 18" lengths or untie the knot and wind off the desired amount. Do not try to match the color changes in each length!



I. Begin in the center of the design with one ply of Watercolours. The stitches are worked vertically and horizontally. The longest stitch in the middle of each side is over eight canvas threads. The stitches on either side of it are progressively one thread shorter until the final stitch which is only over one canvas thread.

2. Work all stitches toward the center as shown by the arrows.

3. On the top and bottom sides the stitches are worked vertically and on the right and left sides the stitches are worked horizontally.

4. When complete, you will have constructed four mitered corners.


 5. Work the second row with two strands of Wildflowers. In this, and all of the remaining rows, the stitches are worked over four canvas threads, except at the corners where they will again be mitered.

Always stitch from an empty hole into a full hole, following the direction of the arrows on the illustration. This will result in a neat appearance to your stitching as you are not disturbing any already completed stitches.

6. The colors in the two strands will not match. At first this may not look right, but the eye will blend the colors when looking at the finished piece.

7. The next row can be stitched with either one or two strands of Impressions. Using one strand will give a sculptured look to the stitches. Using two strands will give a smooth, satiny effect. The differences may not show up on your monitor, but the yellow example was stitched with two strands, the others with only one.

8. Stitch the final row of satin stitches with either three or four plies of Waterlilies.

9. One one-yard length will not be enough to go around the entire four sides, so you will have some choices to make when starting the second length of thread. You can do any one of the following:

a) Take another needleful of thread without regard to which part of the skein it comes from.

This is what we did in the blue sample. There may be a distinct difference in colors where you start and end the new thread. Generally, the eye will compensate for any differences when viewing the overall piece of work.

b) Take your next needleful of thread from the same length you began with, but thread the needle in the opposite direction. This way you will begin stitching with approximately the same color you ended with. When you complete the round of stitching, the colors may not blend seamlessly, but the comments above apply.

c) If you wish to control the way the colors look, work the first needleful of thread around two sides. Thread up your needle the second time in exactly the same way as the first time and go back to your beginning point and stitch around the remaining two sides. When you are done the opposite corners will be coordinated. This is the technique used in the yellow example.

10. For a finishing touch, do one row of stem stitch, outline stitch, cross stitch or elongated cross stitch around the outside in the thread of your choice.



  • Try different color combinations
  • Reverse the color sequence for very different results (see blue and rose samples)
  • Work the design on other sizes of canvas or fabric. You will often need to adjust the number of strands or plies you work with. For help refer to our Thread Usage Chart under "Threads".
  • Experiment with other threads from our collection.


Be sure to join us next month. Future classes will feature guest instructors and will include a variety of different techniques, approaches and points of view, so be sure to stop by and see what's new.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No part of these instructions nor the included designs/charts can be reproduced or distributed in any form (including electronic) or used as a teaching tool without the prior written permission of the CARON Collection Ltd. One time reproduction privileges provide to our web site visitors for and limited to personal use only.


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