A primer on needlepoint: what to stitch?

I will continue with the post from two weeks ago, talking about the basics of how to do a needlepoint thingy.  Here we go:

Choosing a project

Nerodia sipedon williamengelsi

Highly useful draft dodger and annoying person frightener


Highly useful needle book. Cotton, acrylic. 2″ x 3″

What will you do with your canvas after you’ve finished? Enjoy knowing it sits in the closet? Starting out with an idea of a finished product in mind will encourage you to keep at it. The finished canvas will be thick and leather like, so think of things that type of fabric works for. Pillows are traditional, but things like device cases are really useful. Purses and slippers are traditional also. If you’re just starting out, making a needle book is a good project. It is smallish and useful. Christmas ornaments are little projects also. I really enjoy stitching up snake draft dodgers. Or you could go totally nuts and make up the upholstery for an entire couch. Head to the library or play around online to look at what people have done. The cool thing about needlepoint is that the design is not connected to the finished object. You’re just making fabric. So keep that in mind when looking at other people’s projects. But use your fabric.

Choosing a design

Squid pillow

Not gonna lie. This was BORING. Programmer finds it useful to put his feet on. 2010. Cotton. 20″ x 15″

FIND SOMETHING YOU LIKE!!!!  You will be at this for a while. Areas with blocks of color are easier. Fewer colors are easier. Less detail is easier. However, big blocks of color, few colors and little detail ends up being boring. Very good for watching movies but not so exciting to stitch. Since this is a slowish process, it can be very helpful for remembering stuff. In other words, if you’re studying tulip anatomy, then stitching up a tulip anatomy design will embed the information into your skull. Maps are GREAT for this. But the big thing is to choose something you like.

I do a lot of animals. I like animals. Also, animals are sort of screwed up in reality (as in there are skin imperfections, not the actual animals are faulty in any way) so if you make an error in stitching, it just looks more authentic.  I’ve also done bike parts, cuz I like bikes, and stuff from 1500’s era carpeting, because it looks cool. I don’t have a deep connection to carpets. They are highly geometric, so you do have to get the pattern right.

Making your own design

Peugeot chainring pattern

This wasn’t much more interesting than the squid. Looks FANTASTIC though. Peugeot chainring pattern.

Go for it. Just go for it. I’ll discuss how to get a design onto canvas later, but make up your own stuff.  If you have a specific photo or image you want to use, you can convert it to a gridded pattern either by drawing it out on gridded paper (hoping that your pattern is small) or you can use a program to convert it. I have used myphotostitch successfully, which is a free online program that does a decent job. If you want to spend some money, macstitch works well. There’s a windows version also. Conversion software does require you to play with the conversion quite a bit until you get something worth your effort, so don’t accept the first output.

One cool design idea is to take a little motif, center it on a canvas, and then do a filler design around it. Looks pretty good and you get to trade off between boring bits and more complicated bits. By the way, letters do work, but they end up a little funky unless they’re HUGE.

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