I’ve been working on a new needlepoint project recently, using all sorts of different colours at the same time. I’m stitching the feathers randomly, which means having tons of threads on the go at the same time and trying not tot to get them tangled up (too much).
As I stitched, I figured out two tricks to making the quick change of colours work for me:
2. At first I was pulling the threads through to the front and leaving them there, but they kept getting in my way. I wanted to be able to pull them as far away as I could from the working area, but since the working area kept moving, I had to keep moving my parked threads.
I ended up finding a solution: Clover clips! These little red clips are fabulous. I was able to pull all my threads up and away, but move them as I needed so they wouldn’t get in the way of my stitching.
The feathers were finally done, and I’m super pleased with them! The stitch is called Fern Stitch, but I have done it upside down so they look like feathers. It was much easier to stitch the lower feathers after the higher ones, so I worked from the top down, mostly. It was quite tricky to fill in the top and get the top of the feather tucked under the long stitches of the base.
This is a quick guide to the stitch, upside down (this screenshot is taken from a program called The Plastic Canvas Design Studio, which I will write about later because it rocks!):
I have a few of the little embroidery guides by the Royal School of Needlework: Blackwork, Crewelwork, and now Canvaswork. They are fabulous. They are small enough to fit in a purse or a project bag, are spiral bound (so they lay flat) and are always super educational.
As with all of these guides, I’m not sure they are suited for a beginner-beginner, but an advanced-beginner will definitely enjoy them. They are inspiring, beautiful little books, with just enough information to let you try stuff out and get interested in finding out more. All the pieces are truly wonderful and allow you to really see a huge range of projects stitched in various complexities of stitch blending and colour blending. I think stitch blending is the prettiest thing featured in the book. Here is a look at one of the pages, just to tempt you.
Here is the mini, messy sampler I worked while watching Sesame Street with my daughter after reading the book through in one sitting. The stitches I tried are: alternating cross (not so nice), byzantine (nice!), chequer, fan (shrug), straight gobelin, leaf (ran out of thread there…), milanese (love the triangles), a very screwed up norwhich square and fern stitch, in alternating directions.
I just love how seventies these needlepoint pinwheels look! They are super easy to stitch up and will look beautiful in all sorts of colours. I stitched two versions recently. The Sorbet version above, and this Dark Raspberry version too.
I used 15ct canvas for both colourways, and 7 different colours each. The list of colours used is in the PDF guide at the bottom of the page.
If you want to learn how to stitch up your own pinwheels, here is a quick how to (click on any image to see it bigger! Important when switching triangle directions!):
If you’d like to have this guide as a downloadable pdf, just click below! I would love to see how you do! Whether you do it on tapestry canvas or on cross stitching Aida, give it a try!
Here are the three Bargello pieces I made before making the jump to yarn. Can you see the theme? Yep, I’m a huge coffee drinker, and I also work for a local tea company here in Ottawa; I have hot drinks on the brain!
They’re okay. Not terrible, and I love the colours, shapes and patterns, but the coverage definitely isn’t amazing. Check out the two closeup shots below to see what I mean:
You can definitely see more of the background than in the yarn Bargello pieces. I used three strands of floss for all three projects. Moral of the story? Yarn looks nicer, but if you want to find out if you like working with wavy, repetitive patterns and funky colour schemes, pulling out your cross stitching supplies and giving it a go is a great way to discover a new stitching style!
Here is quick picture of the needlepoint currently in my frame – Dark Raspberry Swirls! I also learned something while stitching away at the Starbucks near my daughter’s daycare: if you forget your little pieces of thin paper to help pass your yarn through the eye of your needle, you can use the sleeve the straw came in! It’s really really thin, so you can only use it once or twice, but because of that same thinness, the yarn goes it really easily! I kept the rest of the straw sleeve to use later (and snagged another straw for my purse in case this happens again). Also pictured, my really old zipper pouch I got from our Japanese exchange student 10 years ago and my favourite thread scissors, which are from Sublime Stitching.
It can be difficult sometimes to start a new craft project. You may not have all the materials, and especially if you are not 100% sure you will love it, it can be daunting to spend money on the “right” equipment.
I wanted to try bargello, and I was okay with buying the canvas and the yarn, but you can’t hoop up needlepoint canvas – it’s too stiff. It is almost stiff enough that you could do without a frame of any kind… almost. My local shop didn’t carry anything that could help me out, so I decided to improvise.
I went out to a nearby craft store, grabbed four 11 inch stretcher bars (about $1.50 a piece) and put them together. These are meant to be used with fabric in order to make canvases for painting. But if you use a staple gun to staple your canvas to it, it works great for needlepoint.
One remark, though, staple it on one side of the frame, and stitch on the other. That way, when you are working your threads underneath the in the back, you don’t have the frame in the way at any point. I worked on the same side as the staples the first time and ran into a few difficulties tucking in my ends near the edges; it was tough getting the needle to not run into the frame.
The staples do not damage the canvas, and only 8 staples (in each corner and in each middle) is enough to keep the tension.
It’s so much easier to try a technique when you don’t have to invest too much money first; I always find that it I order special supplies, I’m so scared of screwing up that I never do anything with them. Real Shisha mirrors, laser cut cross stitch pendants… Maybe I’ll gather them all in one place soon and actually DO something with them. 😉
I stitched up R2D2 over the holidays. Isn’t he adorable? I was looking at the curves of bargello, and I saw his little head poking up!
I designed him in Paint as pixel art, which was a bit tricky, since in needlepoint goes over lines, not in squares. Does that make sense?
Although your pattern reads like a cross stitch pattern (on the left hand side), your stitches actually cover the number of threads instead of the number of holes. It gets extra confusing when two colours share the same hole, which isn’t super obvious in the version on the left.
What this meant, practically, is that although I drew up a pattern… I free handed a lot of it. Calculating over lines can be quite tricky and once you screw up, improvising is pretty much the only way to make it look good. I also learned the hard way that I should really leave two threads between elements. See how much better the left seam looks than the right? It doesn’t really show unless you are looking in a million times zoom, but it still bugs me. Yep. Lesson learned.
Anyway, needlepoint is tons of fun. I did some on Aida with DMC floss, and R2D2 is done on 15ct canvas with Anchor Tapestry thread. I’ll write more about needlepoint and bargello soon!