Needlepoint Breaks Diplomatic Ice

Michelle Obama in Moscow
Michelle Obama in Moscow

Michelle Obama was in Moscow, and was determined to maintain a”vow of silence”. But when she visited the St. Dimitriy Orphanage, she couldn’t resist speaking, just a little:

Then came the needlepoint project. Needlepoint finally pierced the quiet. “How long did it take you to do this?” the first lady asked, loud enough for all to hear, when the girl gave her the handiwork. Two days, the child said, speaking Russian.

Needlepoint: the ultimate diplomatic ice-breaker.

The Different Types of Needlepoint Canvas

Christine Mann has posted a Guide to Needlepoint Canvas over at Suite101. The article summarizes the differences between the various types of needlepoint canvas and is a pretty good introduction to this topic.

Good quality materials are essential for creating works of art that last, and they help avoid frustration while you work. Before beginning a needlepoint project, inspect the canvas to make sure the threads have no knots or cuts. The grid should be even, not warped or distorted. Make sure the weave and gauge of the canvas is the right scale for the design and yarn you plan to use. Make sure its stiffness and sturdiness are a good match for the way the needlepointed item will be used.

In other words, it pays to buy designs that were done on quality canvas. At Pepita Needlepoint, all designs are printed on expensive Zweigart Mono Deluxe canvas, widely preferred by stitchers everywhere. Threads are clean and straight, the weave is uniform and stiff, and the material is sturdy yet gentle on your hands.

Backgammon Board Needlepoint

The stats I get from Google Analytics show that searchers frequently seek needlepoint patterns for Backgammon Boards. Pepita’s own Backgammon design ranks well with that query and appear on the first page of results.

Pepita Needlepoints Backgammon Board pattern
Pepita Needlepoint's Backgammon Board pattern

Possibly the most famous needlepointed backgammon board is that of Rosey Grier. I got this picture from a wonderful Flickr photo-set taken from his book.

Roseys Backgammon Board
Rosey's Backgammon Board

A while back, a customer contacted me through my website and requested a Backgammon board pattern that featured a compass rose. I designed one special for her and she was very happy with it. It’s now available for anyone else as well on the website.

Backgammon Board with Compass Rose
Backgammon Board with Compass Rose

Our customer had shopped around for a designer that would do this for her. One designer wanted to charge her $800! She was amazed when I priced this for her at under $100.

If you are looking for a custom-designed canvas, make sure to drop me a line. You won’t be disappointed.

We’ve Moved

Hello, distinguished visitors. Thanks for joining me here at my brand-new WordPress installation.

I am still in the process of importing my older blog posts from my original installation. I’m told that this is a difficult process, but have no fear! I’ll get it done. In the meantime, this little introductory post will have to do. So once again, I bid you welcome, and let’s keep the conversation going.

On the Scottish Diamond Stitch

The Scottish Diamond stitch is a medium-complexity stitch that is good for filling larger areas with an elegant, symmetrical pattern. I’ve created a diagram that illustrates the stitch below.

Diagram of the Scottish Diamond Stitch
Diagram of the Scottish Diamond Stitch

The Scottish Diamond stitch appears in Lucinda Ganderton’s “Stitch Sampler” on page 123 (I am using the edition from 1999, but it is still on that page in the most current print). Here is what she writes:

Start at top left. Work five upright stitches in a diamond shape…Repeat to the end of the line leaving one space between each diamond (emphasis mine).

Following Lucinda’s instructions, your diamonds will be tightly wrapped with a series of vertical stitches, but they won’t criss-cross as you might expect.

Here are some illustrations to show you what I mean. Lucinda’s stitch can be diagrammed as follows: 

Scottish Diamond over a larger area
Scottish Diamond over a larger area

But if you desire a more symmetrical look, where the wrapping stitches criss-cross nicely, the stitch would look like this:

Scottish Diamond Criss Cross
Scottish Diamond Criss Cross

We can call this variant the “Scottish Diamond Criss Cross”. (For all I know, there already is a stitch out there with this pattern, I just don’t know of it. Does anybody out there know?) Here is a photo detail of the stitch using my variation, from Pepita’s Baby Boy Sampler:


Scottish Diamond Criss-Cross Stitch Example
Scottish Diamond Criss-Cross Stitch Example

Instead of leaving 1 space between the diamonds, as per Lucinda’s instructions, you need to leave 3 spaces between each diamond. Otherwise, the outlining stitch that wraps each diamond will not criss-cross properly. If you study the photo detail I put in before, you’ll see what I mean.

Incidentally, I very much recommend Lucinda’s book – her work is excellent and it is a valuable reference for every needlepointer.

P.S. Be sure to check out my tip for looking up stitches in Lucinda’s book on Amazon.

New Article: Tutorial for Needlepoint Beginners

girl needlepointing

This is a little late, but I’ve posted a new article at Pepita Resources for beginners, called The Needlepoint Beginner: How Do I Start Stitching? This is a tutorial-style piece aimed at people who have never needlepointed but would like to learn. Many beginners are overwhelmed at the notion of trying something totally new and do not know how to start. If you are that person, this article is for you. Excerpt:

You saw someone doing it on a park bench in the blissful spring air. You remember your mother stitch-stitch-stitching, while on the phone, or in the doctor’s waiting room. Yesterday, your friend proudly showed off her latest masterpiece, framed neatly on the kitchen wall. Whatever it is, you want some too! How does a complete beginner start needlepointing?

Presenting our Needlepointing Tutorial for Beginners. Read on and see how easy it is to take up needlepointing. Introduce yourself to one of the most relaxing and rewarding hobbies that’s been around for hundreds of years.

Go on and read the whole thing. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Needlepoint Appreciation

Your old needlepoint you inherited from your grandmother’s grandmother might be worth more than you think. See this story covering the Antiques Roadshow, where Doris Black was pleasantly surprised to learn that her great-great-great aunt’s needlepoint masterpiece would fetch $2,000 to $2,500.

A great-great-great aunt would have lived about 100 years ago, when goods such as needlepoint canvas and thread costed far less than what they cost today. A canvas such as hers plus thread would cost in today’s dollars about $350 total. In 1900, this would have been about $15 (try it out yourself using this inflation calculator).

So, assuming inflation continues along a similar path for the next hundred years, your great-great-great niece may wind up selling your own stitched project for over $8,000. Now that’s what I call needlepoint appreciation.

Quickly Looking Up Needlepoint Stitches

Here’s an interesting tip, that I am sharing here for you to use responsibly (in other words, please don’t abuse this little trick, and respect authors’ copyrights).

Say you are looking for details on a needlepoint stitch. For example, you wanted to look up the Lucinda Ganderton’s “Stitch Sampler” entry on the Scottish Diamond stitch, but you didn’t have the book with you. Proceed to Amazon’s listing of the book and hover your mouse over the image, where it says “Look Inside”. A little popup will offer a textbox where you can enter the words “Scottish Diamond”. On the search results page, you can click on page 123 to get a scan of the page you are looking for.