I always love a project that challenges me to push my craft forward, and I've been running into quite a few of those lately. One of the new techniques that I've been having the most fun with is for a project where I was asked to recreate the garish festive look of an ugly Christmas sweater as embroidered text. I'd like to share with you the shading method that I used in this project to blend together the clashing cheery colors in the embroidery.
The first step is to choose your colors wisely. When blending two colors together, you either want them to be a similar color (like red and pink) or a similar value (like two pastels or two dark colors). This allows you to transition smoothly between two dissimilar colors with a couple of steps.
You'll want to use a fairly small stitch for this project so that your eye will see the finished item as one smooth shape rather than as a collection of stitches. In this case, I'm using seed stitch, but any small single stitch would do. I imagine French knots would yield a pretty interesting result, too.
As you reach the edge of the color, start to space out your stitches. Space them in such a way that there is a nice amount of room for one or two stitches of the same size between them.
Now you're ready to start with the next color. In this example, I'm going from red to pink, two colors in the same color family. Using the same small stitches, fill in the gaps you left with the first color. Continue until you are ready to end that color, then start leaving gaps again for the next color in your series.
Above you can see what this technique looks like when you step back a bit. Your eye will blend the colors into a nice gradient.