Breaking waves along a shore, a lovely seashore needlepoint. The transition from the glassy sea to the crashing waves. Dramatic, right? But how do you render it in needlepoint so that it looks good and is easy to stitch?
Begin by stitching the calm sea. You’ll want thread with some shine (pearl cotton?) and long, smooth stitches. To make the transition from calm to wave work, you’re going to need to stitch two different parts, the churning water and the break/foam.
Let’s take the churns first. You are going to want a stitch which is shorter and which changes direction, since that will look choppy. If you’re using long stitches, you’re going to want to make the transition gradual.
First, and do this along an irregular line, never more than three units in a straight line, stitch Double Woven Stitch. It’s a fairly long stitch, somewhat open, so it’s a good transition. Even if you only have one of two lines of it, this stitch will help your eye make the transition from the sea to seashore needlepoint.
After a bit of this switch to Criss-cross Hungarian, which should be the main stitch you use. This should also began along an irregular line. If you need to fill the holes which occur in this stitch, mostly fill them with little cross stitches in the same thread. But occasionally throw in a white or clear bead, to be little flecks of foam.
As the wave moves towards the shore, the water breaks up, foam appears, and ultimately the wave breaks.
So now we have a transition in stitches — flat stitches, then Double Woven, the Criss-cross Hungarian, then that stitch with beads added. By stitching this transition and stitching the next step (adding the foam, or crest, of the wave) your seashore needlepoint will look realistic.
The next question is what to do about threads. If possible with the threads you are using move to more matte threads as you approach the crest. These could be just a touch darker (churning water looks darker). So if you are using pearl cotton, switch to floss. If you are using floss switch to a matching color of Pebbly Perle. This will enhance the effect from the stitches, but isn’t strictly necessary.
Now to deal with the breaking part of the wave. You will probably want to have something like Woven Plait, another non-directional stitch, be the foundation, but it’s going to be mostly covered up. Pick the most matte thread (but not wool — it’s too fuzzy) you can find and stitch this area, making sure to keep the edges uneven. A good thread for this is YLI’s organdy ribbon.
To get the sparkle and the foam, you will need to build up layers of stitching, using a variety of shiny, sparkly threads. Don’t use anything which looks too metallic and throw in some dullish threads as well. I’d use silk ribbons (dull), floss, Flair (sparkly), Sparkle Rays (sparkly), Neon Rays and Neon Rays Plus, and white or pearl Kreinik.
The knots should not all be the same color, but should be closely related shades of white and cream; be sure to throw in a few threads which are darker and lighter than your main thread.
The break and foam of the waves in seashore needlepoint will mainly be French Knots. They should be different thicknesses, and not all be made the same way.
Vary the thread, the needle (most important for changing size), the thickness of the thread, and the number of wraps. Go thread by thread, scattering knots throughout. As you work, more of the stitching and the knots will be covered; this is correct.
As you do this it will look weird and unfinished, that’s correct. It’s only as more knots get filled in that you get the effect.
Once you’re done with the French Knots, for a final touch you need to add beads. These should be white, cream, and crystal. Scatter them on top of the knots. If you have more than one size of bead and more than one color, that is excellent.
You have created a realistic bit of seashore needlepoint by using common stitches, taking care with the scale and direction of the stitch, and by building up color and texture.