The Old Tattered Flag

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

To Valdani or not to Valdani.....that is the question....and the answer may surprise you!




**I first wrote this blog in 2015 and have still learned so much about this subject so some parts have been edited.
Julie ~ 9/16/2017


I have so much to do, the last thing I should be doing is blogging.  You see, this is the week of our "Gathering of Friends" here at The Old Tattered Flag.  71 Rug Hookers, punchers, stitchers will be making their way to our Old Stone House this Saturday.  We are so excited, and relatively ready, just those few last minute things that we should be doing.  So, with that, I cannot get my thread predicament out of my mind and wanted to share my thoughts with you.  I would really appreciate feedback on this one as I am trying to figure out what options to offer my customers for their punch kits.
So, a few years ago when I started designing hooked rug patterns, then made the decision to miniaturize them into punch needle patterns I decided to go with a brand of thread called Sullivans.  It is similar to DMC, they even give the DMC number on the skein so you can match it if necessary.  I chose Sullivans as they offer smaller ordering quantities than DMC and it was a better value.  As a small business owner I need this option.  I am thrilled with Sullivans floss and discovered that I am a 6 strand puncher.  I do not like to separate the floss and keep threading the punch needle so punching continuously with the whole skein of floss was ideal for me. 
Sullivans Floss ~ above and below

 I very quickly discovered that when punching, you need some movement or variegation with your thread.  I looked at some hand dyed skeins but was astounded at the prices.  Many of my designs are quite large and take between 20 and 30 skeins of floss.  Some hand dyed floss out there can be as much as $3 or $4 for one skein AND they didn't even offer the full 8.7 yds on the skein.  This was unacceptable.  So, I decided to try dyeing my own floss. 
My Dirty Pumpkin hand dyed floss. 

My Grungy Green hand dyed floss.
 It's not my favorite thing to do, very labor intensive, time consuming, but Ohhhhh the results.   

My "1831 Antique Floral"  background done with my Dirty White floss.  Grungy Gold used for the vase, stars and leaf middles.

My "Farm Friends ~ Lg." My New Denim Blue was used for the background, the sheep was done with my Dirty White.

My "Key Nose JOL" design, background done with Dirty White and a brown to resemble a chippy board.  JOL done with my Dirty Pumpkin.  
So, for two years now I've been happy with my own hand dyed floss but, I'm finding that with close to 200 designs available on the website and as my business increases, I better do something and something quick or I'm going to lose control.  All my punch needle patterns are available as pattern only or my customers can choose the option for us to "add the thread" thus making it a kit.  This requires me to always have a tremendous amount of thread ready to go.  

So, to switch to Valdani?  That is the question.  I knew that Valdani balls went for around $4-$5.  Could I justify this?  Oh no, this is where math is going to come into the equation, not a good thing for a busy blonde.  

So, here's what I came up with.  Most punchers use the 3 strand cotton ball.  (in the picture below).  There is 27 meters of floss on the $4 ball which equates to 29.52 yards of floss or 3.39 skeins.....not bad compared to the other hand dyed flosses, but again, my problem is that I am a 6 strand puncher.  The 3 strand cotton floss is GORGEOUS, but just too fine for me. It takes longer to fill in and in my opinion twice as long to punch, again, just my opinion.  So, I was back to square 1.  

Valdani 3 strand Cotton floss, the go to for most punchers...

Then I found the pearl cottons.  Valdani offers pearl cotton balls in the same wonderful colors as their 3 strand cottons.  So, I ordered it to test it...in the picture below see the Ball on the bottom left, pearl cotton #8, 
a 3 strand equivalent (67 meters or 73.27 yards or 8.42 skeins.....great value) and.....tada, the ball on the top, pearl cotton #5, a six strand equivalent (42 meters or 45.9 yards or 5.27 skeins.....another great value...for hand dyed).  


 But, pearl cotton is more of a "twisted" thread, would I like it?  The answer is a resounding YES.  I have been experimenting to show you the differences with my "Baxter's Star" design (Baxter is my dog).  The middle star is done with a solid red, Sullivan's floss.  The wonderful antique black around the star is P11, Valdani pearl cotton #5 (6 strand equivalent) and the outer circles (the blue, gold and green) are the 3 strand cotton.  I found that the twisted threads of the perle cottons gave me the primitive, chunky look I want, so yes, the twisted pearl cotton will work for me.  
Edit ~ I have since become more comfortable working with the #8 perle cotton.  When I first started using Valdani I had heard a rumor that the #5's were going to be discontinued.  I have since learned that this was just a rumor, but have continued to use the #8 happily. However, the #8 was still a little too thin for my liking so I pull the strand from the inner center of the ball and the outside of the ball, line them up and thread both strands through my medium tip.  I punch primarily on a height of #2. 

My Baxter's Star design punched with 3 different flosses. (click on the picture to get a good close up)
So, the next thing.....cost.  Could I justify spending $5 on a ball of floss.  Well, the answer is yes.  I charge $1.20 for my skeins of hand dyed floss..........way less than any other hand dyed floss out there.  Still, if you figure that a ball of #5 would have a bit more than 5 skeins of hand dyed floss that adds up to $6.  The Valdani ball was a better deal.  And, if you choose to punch with 3 strands, the pearl cotton ball which has the equivalent of over 8 skeins is a tremendous savings (it would cost 10.80 in my hand dyed floss)....and you get to have amazing punched pieces!!  A #8 ball has 73 yards of thread in it or an equivalent of 8.4 skeins of floss.  At 1.20 per skein that would be over 10.00.  Again, a great value for hand dyed floss.  
You should know that I have no affiliation to Valdani in any way.  This has been a slow realization for me.  And truthfully I still love my own hand dyed floss.  I just cannot keep up with it.  So, I am happy to say that now I will be gradually switching over to Valdani for all my punch kits.  I still plan to use a skein of my own here and there as certain elements may not require an entire ball of Valdani and I want to keep the cost down for my customers.  

It's a slow start, but here is the Eye Candy in my shop and how appropriate to have this old candy rack as the display.   


So, that is my opinion on the Valdani versus others conundrum!  I hope this has been helpful to you, it has almost been cathartic for me to write about it and convince myself that I have made the right decision.  Let me know your thoughts! By the way, if you haven't visited our website, it is:
Until next time......

33 comments:

  1. Love this- you cleared up some questions I have had myself. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love working with Valdani floss and pearl cotton. I punched something once with #5 pearl cotton and found it difficult to thread the needle. I realize now that I was probably using the wrong size needle as I was unaware at the time that the needles for the Cameo Punch Needle came in small, medium and large. I now have all three sizes and I recently used their #8 pearl cotton to punch a small ornament with the medium size needle. I don't mind the extra time it takes for the value of the yardage on the #8 ball but I also like the look when using #5. Do you use the large needle for #5 pearl cotton?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Martha, well, I "discovered" my medium tip while in the car on the way to Vermont. My large tip wasn't working properly so I thought I'd try the medium tip as I had heard that you could punch 6 strands with it. It worked beautifully, I may continue to use it with the #5, I'm not sure. Since I've always punched with the large tip it felt funny...

      Delete
    2. I think I was trying to use #5 pearl cotton with a small needle tip. It was difficult and I barely managed to finish the ornament. I will try the #5 with the medium tip.

      Delete
    3. Oh yea, I'm sure it was giving you trouble. It worked fine with the medium tip and I know will be great with the large tip, it's just a matter of what your hand is use to. My brain was trained to apply just the right amount of pressure to the needle to get that large needle through the fabric, it is an adjustment for me to use the medium tip, doable, just an adjustment. Happy punching!

      Delete
  3. Love the decision. Love Valdani. Love everything in your shop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so nice Cheri, thanks so much!!

      Delete
    2. What are the minimums for their wholesale terms?

      Delete
  4. I am a tried and true Valdani user. I use the size 8 pearl cotton tho I do like the 5 as well. For me, there's nothing like it. If you contact valdani and chat with them, they can get you set up as a designer and you will be able to purchase the floss wholesale.

    Wishing you a great day, doreen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Doreen. I have had an account with Valdani for years, only just now have decided to use it for my designs as I have close to 200 available at my website it is a big decision. I'm sure Joan at Valdani is sick of hearing from me, lol!

      Delete
  5. Thanks so much for this information ... I am sharing it with my fellow 'Punchers'.
    Oh yeah, LUV your Blog too ... I visit often.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am very thinkful for your research because I, too, found separating all that DMC to take longer than punching the pattern. ...and I lost my "flow" of stitching when I had to stop so often. I use Valdani for wool applique and will now use it for the punch needle!! YEAH!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly Connie, you do lose your "flow". You can be going along so well but then if you have to stop and separate your threads it becomes easier to set the project aside...Thanks so much!

      Delete
  7. Great information. THANK YOU!
    Hugs :)
    Lauren

    ReplyDelete
  8. Julie, all your things are adorable! You will never know how much you inspired me in punchneedle! I love your shop and I do intend to visit this year sometime as I live near Buffalo not too far from where you are. I love the idea with the valdani.....i think you made a good decision. I'm going to give it a try also.....you and mom are just so talented and awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so nice Patricia!!! Please do make the trip someday. Come on a Thursday when we have open hooking, we have a very fun group,not all hook, some punch, some stitch, some knit!! Thanks so much!

      Delete
  9. I do love your hand dyed floss but have used the valdani & love it too. I will definitely continue to order from you & purchase the valdani. I always worry about you shop owners & the burnout because having worked in a shop in years past, I know it is TONS more work than any customer realizes. That is why I only order online from shops with a storefront & never purchase from a vendor that is online only. Long live the shops!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kathy, yes, burnout can happen. It's important to not let it overtake our lives, that's why we only open our shop 3 days a week. Plus the website keeps us hopping as well. It's hard to keep a shop open these days though so we are grateful for our great internet customers....the shop is our happy place though!! Thanks so much!

      Delete
  10. Thank you for taking the time to post this wonderful Post... I have wondered why people stem away from Valdani...because of the cost...worth every penny...well I don't mind splitting my DMC...but absolutely love the variation in the Valdani...Thank you again...Good luck with your event...Kate

    ReplyDelete
  11. Another thing to consider is the brand of needle you are using. I use the CTR brand and find that the #12 Valdani works great in the medium (red) needle and the large needle (black) is good for the Valdani size 8. I haven't tried the Valdani #5 to see if it would also work in the large needle. I am curious I will have to give it a try.
    Really great information on threads for appearance in projects but also the costs to shop owner and customer.

    ReplyDelete
  12. In your photo,,what is the Orange valdini,,,I have never found a good orange,,I do like your orange,,,,can I purchase it from here or etsy ?m

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sue, I hope you like our Dirty pumpkin that you ordered!

      Delete
  13. I have been doing punch needle for about 6 years. I am (very) slowly clearing out all my floss except Valdani. It gives me the rich, primitive look that I love to punch.

    For those of you who use perle cotton as well as do 6-strand, perhaps you can help. I have had no luck (zip, zero, nada) when I have attempted to use perle cotton or when I have tried 6-strand. The loops are uneven, don't stay in, and I have had to redo major sections of a piece due to the horrendous look. I like the look, I just can't DO the look. Should I be using something other than weavers' cloth? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Roberta, I think I may have answered your question on facebook, but here goes again...just in case.....the best thing I can tell you is to just keep trying everything. Try different threads in different needles. For instance, I never realized how well six strands goes through the medium tip. You can also run pearl cottons through the medium tip nicely as well and if you want to fill in fast run the 3 strand cotton through your medium tip, but double it up. Thread the end (that is inside the ball and the beginning through the tip, it works great) Punch needle should be done on weavers cloth, it is a tighter weave material that will hold together well. Other fabrics run the risk of tearing, however, I punch through wool and it's WONDERFUL!! As far as spacing, that takes practice too, I tell everyone that you want your rows to be close, but not bunched. I like to imagine a hair in between the rows, just a slight bit of white visible. To much and you will have spaces that need to be filled in. Too close and it will look bunchy from the front. The best thing is practice, practice....try not to get frustrated. I wish you could come over so we could sit and punch on the porch! Good luck!

      Delete
  14. I lov lov valdini threads,,,,it's a joy not to run out in the middle of a punch,,,I don't have to split the threads,,always a pain,,,I'm willing to pay a little extra,,I get mine from Franco at snowflake memories,,he's a joy,,,I'm happy to see your results,,,oh by the way,can I buy a tip,for my ultra punch,,mine I think is getting rather dull,,,keep up the good work,,lov your FB page,,,

    ReplyDelete
  15. Don't know why I haven't been on your blog before but I just ran across it doing a search for Valdani thread equivalents....and walla, up came your blog post. Thanks for posting this as I have the same problem you just wrote about. I too design and sell punch needle but I HAVEN'T gone to KITS yet because of the cost problem with the thread but i see now how it can be over come.
    Thanks again for this information.
    And your designs are wonderful as are the over-dyed skeins.
    Blessings
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love your Hand Dyed floss, so sad to see it go. 🙁

    ReplyDelete

About Me

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog. I am married and just entering the second phase of my life as a Army retiree's wife. My husband and I did 25+ years in the Army. He is now officially a retired Colonel and has just entered the civilian workforce and I am happily settled in our 1830 Stone house. I (along with my Mom) operate www.theoldtatteredflag and currently we are building a small shop in the back part of the house. We live in Northern NY, right near the Canadian border. I have two handsome sons and 2 puggles. Life is busy for us, but I wouldn't have it any other way.