An exciting new look at needlepoint.

When searching for a title that both described a growing trend in needlepoint design and encouraged you to read it, ‘new’ was not perfect as ideas and techniques continue to grow and have always done so.  From my own designs you will see antique tiles, Tudor embroidery and Victorian Ladies journals have inspired me.

My first designs that took the colour of the canvas as part of the design many years ago was a range, the Gazebo collection, stitches  worked in white and ecru on antique (brown) canvas, the individual stitches – including Skip Tent – allowing the deep shade of canvas to offset the design.   Nowadays the exciting range of coloured canvases would lend themselves beautifully to this simple idea – oh for the time to play.

Next came two Patchwork designs, the canvas painted in a crazy
patchwork of colours.  Each area has stitches, often old favourites in threads to compliment the painted area below.   Either the stitches had space in between rows, an element of the traditional stitch left out Or worked with finer threads. 

Patchwork with Iris - Patchworkwith Initial

Detail of stitches and the canvas left blank in between rows or units.
The first had an iris painted in detail and surrounded by panels of colour that complimented the shades in the flower. 

The second with instructions for an initial or monogram of one’s choice is popular;  as a custom order favourite colours can be incorporated or non favourites left out!  

When working the Iris design, (it could be a tulip or any other single flower), I decided that the detail of the flower was so perfect that basket weave tent with silks or floss was the best solution.  With the initial I selected metallic for the letter however other less flamboyant threads have been used successfully.

Both these designs will soon be available on our web and small quantities of thread can be used or specially purchased. For individual schemes please contact Anna.

Moving on we come to Shadow stitching, the techniques I am really excited about and still experimenting with.   Shadow stitching allows the hand painted canvas to show through any stitching and become part of the shaded web of stitches. By using a thinner thread or less ply the stitch combines with the painted design below.   A design can be done entirely in shadow stitches or mixed with traditional tent stitch (like the Iris above) or with some stitchery; all work well and are fun to do.

My first two designs were interpretations of Del Robbia panels for my
Original panel used an inspiration.
annual stitching holidays in Tuscany.  Perfect as the Del Robbia family lived in the same area as we visit in the 1500. However if the Wreaths had been worked in basketweave tent it would have taken the students many hours of working the shading in literately tens of  different shades, probably the entire trip and not allowed time for the central motifs or fruit.  We all enjoyed the new experience, the relative speed and the effect!
Flowers are always a firm favourite and lend themselves to this technique so Elderflowers and Lilac are two of my recent designs.    The two flowers make a great pair and there are two different borders to chose between.

The leaves are shadow stitched, the flower head covered with Skip Tent and then various decorative stitches are worked on top.  There are full details of a number of backgrounds suggested and many others, particularly Patterned Darning patterns could be tried.

These two designs with all the threads and Border of your choice are on our web site.  When purchasing your first canvas (special savings if you order an Elderflower and Lilac at the same time) there is an excellent manual with all the special techniques and a wide selection of suitable stitches

If like me you get the bug and have done at least one of the above flowers almost any painted canvas can be worked in the same fashion.   Students have done the pair of Passion Flowers applying similar ideas.

At present I am working a detailed scene adapted from an original painting (with the artist’s permission of course) of ‘Basket Makers of Road Town’ sitting outside their home.    Jill Tattersall, the artist, arrived in Tortola BVIs with her family, husband, three children and a cat in 1965 and more recently painted a series based on her memories of how the island was when they first got there.  

The other great friend and long-time inspiration is Dede Ogden; we have known each other for many years indeed I wrote quite a chunk of ‘The Complete Needlepoint Course’ sitting in her kitchen in San Francisco. It was her painted canvases shadow stitched that I saw when with her two years ago that fired my desire to try for myself – thank you so much Dede.

Books mentioned

Memories of the British Virgin Islands;  Jill Tattersall

Besides lovely colour plates of her paintings there is the almost unbelievable story of the families’ journey to the island.   Sadly out of print but should you see one grab it! Have just heard that there may be a top quality paper back in the future; let me know if interested so I can pass on your details;
That’s Not Needlepoint;  (It’s inspired Art Created with your needle)
Dede Ogden
self published with stitches and thread suggestions for some of her paintedcanvases that can be ordered.


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