Yesterday I took a needlepoint class at my local needlepoint shop, Wool & Willow. Beth, of Forever Memories by Design, taught Needlepoint Hints & Tips. It was GREAT!! I learned lots of valuable information and was introduced to many new tools. Now I'll be stitching like a pro!???!
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Last night I was reading all the needlepoint blogs and saw that Ruth Schmuff has transformed her Stitches CD Volume 1 into an iphone app. I stopped reading, grabbed my phone and downloaded it. It is available in the itunes app store. Search for iStitches or Ruth Schmuff and you will find it. It takes about a minute to download. Ruth's blog says, "view stitches alphabetically or by type. You can now search for a stitch." This is the BEST feature! "Type in Mosaic and get all the versions of mosaic stitch in the library." Go to Ruth's Blog to see all the features. She has screen shots of the app. I can't wait to hear how it converts to the ipad. I'm going to try it for my next Beach Chairs stitch. I'll keep you posted.
The first thing I do with a new needlepoint canvas is tape the edges. Most needlepoint shops will do this for you. If your canvas isn't taped, even if you are using a frame, tape the edges. Taping prevents snagged threads or the mesh unraveling. It's best to use an acid free tape. I rub the scissors handle across the tape on both sides. This helps keep the tape in place.
This is my new Back To Basics Needlepoint Canvas. Whenever I get a comment or read a post about needlepoint basics I'm going to try it out on this canvas. Please send me any of your needlepoint basics. I'll try them out and take a picture. I'll keep you posted!
I'm on a mission to learn the basics of needlepoint. I learned to needlepoint in my teens and then took a 30 year break. When I came back to needlepoint I rushed into all the new, wonderful colors and threads. I jumped in with both feet and started designing and painting needlepoint canvases. Then I realized I needed to stitch samples of my designs. This was pretty laborious. Now I stitch almost every day and love it, but I am beginning to realize I am lacking in my stitching skills and knowledge. I'm asking for help from the superb needlepointers in the blog world to help me with the basics! Please comment on whatever you think is a needlepoint basic. Example, I don't do waste knots. I don't know how. I usually hold the thread on the back and carefully stitch over it. That can be awkward. I'm open to any basics!! Thank you!
I wrote Basketweave with the Grain in late June. Since then I have been very conscience to needlepoint with the grain of the canvas and have been really pleased with the results. Last night I was stitching and thought I started out the correct way then I realized I was stitching against the grain. I finished up the little area wrong so I could show you the difference. I hope you can see why stitching with the grain of the canvas is important.
Because the threads lay flat and smooth. (Left Side) They don't twist and bump up. (Right Side)
I pulled the threads for Seahorse Insert. My major concern was that the greens coordinated and didn’t clash with the green leather of the purse. I decided to highlight the eye and dots on the seahorse. I’m doing this with sparkly threads. I’m not using any advanced stitches. The project has small areas and I don’t think the stitches would show well. Also this is my travel project and I don’t want to have to do too much counting or thinking! I picked a light green for the background. Hopefully this will accent the green leather. I put the Project Sheet Notes and my color copy in a sheet protector and keep it in my needlepoint bag.
I’ve picked my canvas. My next travel project is my new Seahorse insert for the new Stirling Shoulder bag. Now what??? Step 1, pick the threads. The greens in the Seahorse need to coordinate with the leather of the bag. That is my major color concern. I’m trying to pull threads from my stash first then go shopping. I pulled all the greens that might work. Then I need to decide what my focal point is. I might want to emphasis the focal point with sparkly threads. Is it the focal point the eye and the center stripe or maybe the pink fin? Do I want to use advanced stitches? Will they enhance the design or detract from the design? Some specialty threads don’t work very well with advanced stitches. What background color will make the seahorse pop and coordinate with the leather color? I recommend making color copy of your needlepoint canvas so you can write notes on the paper copy. Now I need to see what’s out there and how they work together. I’m taking everything to my local shop, Wool & Willow to finish my thread pull. It’s always great to get a second opinion from the stitchers at your local shop. I’ll keep you posted on the final choices!
List the 5 things in needlepoint that we think - and I stress the we as every person who stitches will have a different list - you need to know. Here goes:
Tape the edges of your canvas. If you do not tape the edges of your canvas with masking tape they will fray and you will get annoyed! Better still, if you are handy with a sewing machine, sew on some bias tape - especially if this is a large project that is going to be with you for awhile. Click here to see what we mean by taping the edges.
You do not need to use a frame. This is a sensitive issue, but there, we've said it! If you are stitching a very large piece that is hard to handle, then a frame will probably make it easier, otherwise we rarely bother. Why? You can't carry a needlepoint around in your purse if it's on a frame! And, almost all canvases need to be blocked regardless of whether a frame is used. So, we would say that it's a personal preference thing and not an edict from the needlepoint "powers-that-be" (whoever they are!).
Basketweave is king! You can use any stitch you like on a canvas, but we think basketweave is king. So, probably the best thing you can do is learn this stitch and use it to cover all large(ish) areas of color. It provides the best coverage with the least distortion. Remember though that you can still do small areas in continental or half cross - mixing your stitches on a canvas is perfectly OK. Instructions for basketweave and other stitches are on this page here.
Do not cut your thread lengths too long. We know it's tempting to cut threads a half mile long so as not to have to change them too often. When you do this though the thread may start to thin (it has been pulled through the canvas so many times that it literally erodes), and it tangles and knots constantly. This is especially important if you are stitching with exotic fibers like silks, velvets and metallics - and you should be as these things are fun!
Do not be afraid! A lot of our inquiries start off with "Is it OK to...." Almost always the answer is YES! Remember, this is your project and you can stitch in flax or string if you wish! You can embellish with beads, stitch French knots for hair, use backstitch to outline areas that need highlighting, leave some areas unstitched if you like what's on the canvas etc etc. In other words, almost anything goes, so use your imagination to make the project YOURS. Oh, and have fun!
When I’m planning to stitch a new needlepoint canvas I make a color copy of the canvas. Then I write on the copy my ideas for threads and stitches. I put it in a plastic page protector so it doesn’t smear on anything. I don’t always follow my notes but at least I have a starting place.