The Grey Tail · Zweigart

the How To series – Chapter two: kitting up with solids – FABRICS

when I decide to stitch design on a solid coloured fabric, I usually pick a Zweigart linen in a high count. that’s what I learnt I like to stitch on at best; in fact most of my pieces/WIPs before I tried out Nina‘s hand dyed materials were stitched on Zweigart #52 or #53 raw linens.

they are by far my favourite option and in the past months I got some classic tones in 40 count (to my discovery my 40ct. stash was solely built on hand dyed cuts up until then) for a few projects; some kitted up, some almost finished, some that heaven knows when I’ll get around to actually start – but that’s another story! 😀

once I decide to go for a solid fabric I certainly:

  • take a good look at the pattern. if there are white, densely stitched areas, choosing a white or very light fabric might not be the best of things on the eyes, but of course it depends on the pattern and the amount of good daylight, etc.
  • the second thing I consider is: am I going to stitch this using the same colour scheme it’s charted with or not? sometimes just by switching a couple of tones I find I can easily adjust it to the fabric I want to see it on, so again it all depends on what I envision my project to look like, and transfer & transform that idea onto actual materials. most of the time this proves to be quite a personal process, steeped with trials and errors, that’s why I’m very proud (and a tad jealous) of a piece that finally ends up looking exactly like I wanted it to.

I could never start something without a plan (which is one of the primary reasons why I can’t start every Club/SAL I join straight away; coming up with a plan takes time! 😀 and stash! 😀 ). I either take notes or a shot of the materials that I think can work together (which sometimes I post here so that I can easily find it when I finally start that project), and then, as I stitch, I often find it interesting to add or change or somehow elaborate that idea, but I’ve got to have one to begin with. 🙂

  • something very useful to me when choosing a Zweigart fabric are their colour sample cards for linens. they work pretty much like the DMC colour card I discussed earlier: there are small circles of fabric glued onto white, lightweight cardboard, divided by count, so in case you like working let’s say on 28 count you can get that card alone. they also offer a quick glimpse at the variety of colours and counts availability, with higher counts being the ones with a narrower assortment (humpf, no wonder I stash linens primarily in hand dyed cuts).
Zweigart sample cards
on the left: a closed Zweigart sample card with handy holes for binders; on top: colour range for 32ct. Belfast. at the time I bought these, the polka dot (“Petit Point”) and marbled (“Vintage”) effects had just come out. below: 40ct. Newcastle colours on the top left (ONLY TEN COLOURS FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE!!), 36ct. Edinburgh on the right.

if you went through all the various linen counts steps/phases like I did, you would end up with all the 3 cards, which of course now might be slightly outdated (these were bought in 2012), if I need a more up-to-date look at their current assortment I turn to their official website I linked to at the beginning of this post.

Zweigart sample cards

the other really handy thing they provide are CODES. if you buy from a local needlework shop online (via email/website orders) or at needlework fairs like I do, you don’t really care about the name the linen goes by in that shop: if it’s a white Zweigart, it can either be off white or regular white. you can spare yourself the drama of wondering if what you want is a Snow White or a Starbright or a Milky white linen; if it’s a solid Zweigart white linen it can only be #100 or #101, no matter the count.

Zweigart sample cards
beware that sample cards also give you an immediate comparison of how a dye takes up differently according to the count of the fabric. for example, #101 in 40ct. is much more yellowy than the same # in 36ct.; same goes for #222, which on 40ct. looks quite peachy, while on 36ct. has a much more creamy feel.

same goes for code #52 and #53: they come in all sorts of names (RawNaturalEcruDirty, etc.) which of course change from language to language, often turning international shopping into a face-palming session); but once you know that #52 is lighter and #53 is darker, you can shop from home all you like: you’re getting exactly the shade you wanted.

regarding counts, you can be sure of the one you’re looking at while browsing a stand at a needlework fair (where tags or cuts can easily go misplaced) by carrying this handy dandy bit of info in your notebook/media device:

  • all 25ct. Dublin linens have codes that start with 3604 + their relative colour code; so a white cut of Dublin linen/canvas (PERFECT for over 1 pieces 😍) would be tagged 3601-101, off-white would be 3604-100, etc.
  • all 28ct. Cashel linens have codes that start with 3281 + their relative colour code
  • all 32ct. Belfast linens have codes that start with 3609 + their relative colour code
  • all 36ct. Edinburgh linens have codes that start with 3217 + their relative colour code
  • all 40ct. Newcastle linens have codes that start with 3348 + their relative colour code

Zweigart sample cards

of course if I had a decent LNS nearby I would be there all the time looking at fabric swatches and such, but since that’s not possible, I have built a sort of routine over the years for kitting up with solid fabrics and I find it works really well for me.

– – –

I usually try to add the Zweigart linen code when I post about a new start; I find this bit of info terribly handy both for future reference and for stressing out the deception of WIP pictures under different light conditions: most of my WIPs on white linen look rather yellow in shots taken late at night during wintertime 😳 here are a few examples:

– – –

in the next Chapter I’ll discuss my thoughts on kitting up with hand dyed threads and floss storage, part 1 🙂

stay tuned!


P.S. could I leave with without a BaBa snap? mmmhh.. 😀 enjoy this kitty collage I made today for a cat lover’s birthday 😉

Taras kitty collage


12 thoughts on “the How To series – Chapter two: kitting up with solids – FABRICS

    1. 🙂 thank you!
      I bought these separately at a needlework fair back in 2012. they still have the price tag on so I can tell you they were 8.90 euro each, but I got them during a 30% off sale so they costed 6.23 euro respectively. at that time I had just decided to try out 36ct. for the first time (bought my very first cut there together with my very first NPI silks) and figured if I ended up liking it I would have tried out 40ct. as well, so I got them all during the sale and it turned out to be the best choice 🙂


  1. Oooooo get you and your fancy linen swatches 😛! There’s always #100, #101, #222 and #52 in my stash in various counts, dangerous as it means new starts are always a possibility 😄.
    💜 BaBa in all his kitten cuteness 💜!


    1. BaBa sends happy purrs ❤ ❤
      #100, #101 and #52 are my go-to ones, as well as #53.. now I'll have to try #222 – although I think I have an old WIP on that one, now that I think about it.. ouch! 😛


  2. I LOVED this chapter as I’m always trying to figure out fabric to pattern. I do think I need to get the sample booklets as the catalog I do have really do not do many fabrics justice. Thank you!


  3. I have only stitched on linen a couple of times and although it took me a bit of time to get used to it I did quite enjoy it. The fabric colour charts are brilliant. I have one for threads but didn’t know they did them for fabric.


    1. I knew about them but waited ’till I saw the real thing before investing in them 😉
      they turned out quite helpful for me, in fact I mean to have at least one WIP on solid fabric at all times so that I can make good use of them 🙂


  4. The shade charts are a great idea. I often buy what’s on offer and then try find a use for it! Or I think “plain white is boring” and then discover I actually need some of it!
    I like linen for certain projects, usually samplers but evenweave is my first preference.


    1. oh, I’ve fallen into the trap of “it’s on sale! I should get it!” a few times, got many unusual patterns, bits and things like charms, beads, etc. and, of course, plan to stitch/use them all one day, ah! 🙂 now, honestly, I really hope to, they’re all things I would love to use and do.
      in the fabric department, I stash cotton printed fabrics a lot when they’re on sale – they’re perfect for finishings or future (easy) quilting projects, those are always my favourite catch 😀
      hahaha! I had to laugh at that “white is so boring” bit: I did EXACTLY the same things this past winter!!
      I love how we all have different preferences in our stitching but still understand & appreciate greatly each other’s taste ❤


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