Needlepaints have been in short supply for what seems like forever. What is a Lavender & Lace enthusiast to do? There are various color conversions floating around on the internet – including one sanctioned by Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum herself – but as someone who has stitched the Celtic Ladies with the “real deal” Needlepaints, so many of these conversions are… unsatisfying.
You are going to spend months stitching a Lavender & Lace design. You are going to frame it and hang it and stop to admire it repeatedly for the rest of your days on the earth. (I do, anyway). You’re going to want it to look “right”.
Since I have the benefit of being a shop owner and am surrounded by colors to choose from, I’m going to take you through some options and their pros & cons, from my point of view.
This is the first in a 3-part series on color conversion options for Needlepaints! Part 2
Let’s take it from the top.
The 2001 – 2006 “Lavender Blue” series
Marilyn’s Recommended Substitutes: Rainbow Gallery Splendor & Mandarin
Rainbow Gallery makes really lovely threads. Splendor is a 12-ply silk, and Mandarin is a 6-strand bamboo fiber. Marilyn’s recommendation is to use five Splendor shades and one Mandarin: from lightest to darkest, S931, S932, S1029, S1030, S1076, and M896. Here’s what it looks like (I am out of stock on S1030 at the moment but you get the idea):
In terms of a color conversion, it’s OK. The Rainbow Gallery threads are definitely more blue than lavender, and it’s rather a shame there isn’t one more shade of Splendor deep enough to match 2006. The M896 feels like a compromise – “this is the closest we have, so that will have to be it”. It’s not quite dark enough and it’s a little “off” in color compared to the other substitutions, too. This color conversion is not close enough to permit single-substitutions – you will have to go “all or none”.
Because of the change in fibers (DMC & Needlepaints are both cotton) from cotton, to silk, and then to bamboo, there will be a difference in both thread weight and sheen when using these substitutions. It is only noticeable upon close inspection, but it’s there.
Pro: Designer’s stamp of approval. High-quality, delightful threads.
Con: Color-match is just middling, especially at the dark end. Involves mixing & matching fiber types. These can also go in and out of stock.
DMC Conversion #1 – “Old” colors
This is a conversion that has been floating around on the internet for years. I have never posted it or recommended it to a customer, because frankly I just don’t think it’s very good. It is (light to dark): DMC 3743, 160, 161, 158, 823, and 939.
The dark end of this conversion (NP 2006 to DMC 939) is pretty good. But it falls apart in the lighter shades.
158 is too bright.
160 and 161 are too blue.
3743 doesn’t match the other DMC suggestions at all. The transition from 3743 to 160 will forever be jarring.
That’s not to say that if you use this conversion, your work won’t turn out lovely. You could convert to any number of different colors. Marilyn’s designs will always be lovely.
But the fact remains that she went to the trouble of creating Needlepaints because the colors she envisioned weren’t available in DMC.
And she wasn’t wrong.
Pro: DMC threads will match the rest of your project in thread weight and sheen. They are widely available and you may even have them in your stash already.
Con: I don’t like the color match or series. I just don’t like it. Call me a snob if you will – it’s just not for me.
DMC Conversion #2 – “NEW” (2020) DMC colors
When we got our first shipment of the 2020 DMC colors (01 – 35) the first thing I did was dig through for potential Needlepaint substitutions.
And finally, I think we can actually get close. Behold.
DMC 26 is a dead-ringer for NP 2001. And DMC 30 is a very passable substitute for NP 2002.
Now, if you’re a color snob, you may want to consider blends on the middle two shades. For NP 2003, DMC 31 is very close but could be blued-up a touch. I’d do a 1:1 blend, DMC 161 & DMC 31 for NP 2003. If you are stitching with three strands as opposed to two, take 2 strands of 31 and one of 161.
NP 2004 really is squarely between DMC 32 (which is a touch purpler) and DMC 336 (which is a touch bluer). I’d do a 1:1 blend there as well. If stitching with three strands, two of 336 and one of 32.
That said, if you hate blending, you’d probably not know the difference. You could directly substitute 31 and 32 for NP 2003 and NP 2004 in series – and I even think you could mix and match.
Not within a color (e.g. don’t start off with NP 2002 and switch to DMC 30 mid-stream). But you could certainly use what Needlepaints you have been able to source (we currently still have NP 2001 in stock, much good as it is without the others!) and substitute DMC for the others.
Pro: DMC threads will match the rest of your project in thread weight and sheen. They are widely available and it’s a great excuse to pick up some new colors. The color match is pretty good especially at the light and dark ends.
Con: There’s still nothing exactly like NP 2003 and NP 2004. It’s probably not a coincidence that those two have also been the colors that have been the most challenging to keep stocked / manufactured over the past 15 years.
I am excited to finally have a DMC color substitution that I can whole-heartedly recommend for these designs. If you purchase a Lavender & Lace pattern kitted up from us, you can expect that we will send whatever Needlepaints we have been able to get our mitts on, for those which are out of stock we will substitute the 2001 – 2006 Needlepaints series with DMC as follows:
- NP 2001 = DMC 26
- NP 2002 = DMC 30
- NP 2003 = DMC 31 & DMC 161
- NP 2004 = DMC 32 & DMC 334
- NP 2005 = DMC 823
- NP 2006 = DMC 939
I hope this helps you lovely stitchers out there, and inspires some of you to take up these stunning designs! Stay tuned for our recommendations on the 2007 – 2011 and 2101 – 2106 series.