French Knots have not been one of my favorite stitches for needlepoint, I must admit.
I’m never sure if I’m doing them correctly, I always worry they will pull through, or have loops where the knot should be tight. Or something else.
If you are like me, then there is plenty of help there on the Web. Here are some great resources I’ve found.
None of these are done on needlepoint canvas. All but the Expert Village one are done on non-evenweave fabric. The thing that will be different about French Knots in needlepoint is that you can come out and go into the fabric in the same hole or over a thread or intersection.
Here are some other things to remember about French Knots:
the size of the needle makes the biggest difference in the size of the knot
the thickness of the thread makes a difference as well
in needlepoint wrapping the thread around the needle once or twice is preferred
you can make French Knots over a base of Basketweave, so that you don’t have to make solid knots to cover an area, I call this the “Lazy Stitcher’s Method” and use it often; it makes for a less dense look
French Knots can replace beading
With these tutorials and tips, French Knots will become one of your most used stitches for needlepoint.
This needlepoint instruction shows you how to adapt any plaid to stitching. Plaids are so easy to turn into needlepoint. All plaids, especially symmetrical ones, such as tartans, make wonderful needlepoint. First we’ll talk about plaids and how they are constructed, then we’ll cover how to turn that into needlepoint.
Before I learned the secret of plaids, I loved the needlepoint versions (seen in the 70’s) but never thought I’d be able to make them myself. With this needlepoint instruction, you won’t be in the dark and will know the method to translate any plaid you can see into great needlepoint.
Plaids are woven patterns of different colored stripes. Because of the way the stripes interact in the weave, we get the type of pattern we call plaid.
Plaids can be classified into two types. Most plaids you see are symmetrical, with both the horizontal and vertical stripes the same. The plaids pictured above are symmetrical plaids. A less common type of plaid is an asymmetrical plaid where one set of stripes is different from the other. Personal plaids, like my Birthday Plaid Mini-sock (available in Napa Needlepoint products), are asymmetrical.
Tartans are a particular type of symmetrical plaid and must be registered to be an official tartan. I love this site which has hundreds of tartans pictures and indexed by name.
The pattern of a plaid, particularly of a tartan is called a sett. It is defined as a sequence of stripes of a specific width in a specific color. I have even seen books which told the sett of different tartans.
The first step in this needlepoint instruction is to analyze the structure of the plaid.
Begin by determining if the plaid is symmetrical or asymmetrical. Symmetrical plaids have squares of solid color. Assymetrical plaids haverectangles of solid color.
If the plaid is symmetrical, as in the example below, you only need to figure out one set of stripes. If it is asymmetrical, you will need to do two, the vertical and horizontal.
You don’t need to have the sequence written out for you to figure it out. You can look at a plaid and learn the sett. We’ll use the plaid above for our sequence. Begin by writing down the colors. This plaid uses black, white, and red. Now find the narrowest stripe, and call that width one. This plaid has a sequence of narrow stripes white, black, red, black. Then there is a wider white stripe, then two narrow stripes and then a very wide black stripe before the pattern repeats.
It looks to me as if the wide white stripe is as wide as four narrow stripes, so that would make it four. The back stripe is twice as wide as this whole area, which would make it 20.
The whole plaid, starting from a narrow white stripe is:
And so on.
Now that you’ve analyzed the plaid it’s time to turn it into needlepoint. Remember that the plaid is created by weaving the stripes, creating an over-under pattern. We can mimic that in needlepoint by stitching every other stitch and making stripes, first in one direction, then in the other. I’ll use a simple 4 stitch wide stripe plaid to demonstrate.
Begin by making vertical stripes, and be sure to skip every other stitch. Your canvas will look like this, above.
Now make the horizontal stripes, filling in the stitches you skipped. The above diagram shows only the horizontal stripes for clarity.
And magically the plaid appears!
Once you know the sequence you can make a plaid easily.
I bet you never thought that a needlepoint instruction on making plaids could change your needlepointing life.
If you don’t want to create the plaid yourself, or if you want a personalized plaid, I offer a Plaid and Tartan Charting Service which will provide you with colored charts and needlepoint instruction to stitch your own plaid. The service is available for tartans, any other plaid fabric where you have a picture, and for personal plaids (like the Birthday Plaid) where you can give me names or numbers. Contact me for pricing.
Inspire your stitching with the needlepoint instruction on adapting quilt blocks.
The clean geometry of patchwork quilt blocks is an unending source of inspiration for creating lovely needlepoint.With the most common patch shapes being squares and half-square triangles, there is so much you can do with stitch and stitch patterns which mimic fabric.
Begin by finding a block to adapt. Here are some sources, on-line and off.
Some classic books to use include Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Quilt Blocks and 5001 Quilt Block Designs by Maggie Malone.
There are some internet sites with big collections of pictured blocks
There are also some good directories of patterns on the Internet:
Block list at World Wide Quilting – lists quilt blocks in alphabetical order
Free Quilt Patterns – links to over 1100 sites Quilters are probably the most Internet-savvy of all fiber artists, so you will find many great ideas when you explore.
Pinterest – These days I’m finding tons of great blocks and inspiring quilts on this site. Put “quilt block” in the search box to get started.
As this page grows, there will be information on picking stitches, mimicking fabrics in needlepoint, borders, and settings.
You’re beginning needlepoint, you’ve found a design you love, but it’s the wrong size. What do you do now?
Don’t give up! There are simple tricks you can use to change the scale of the design by changing the mesh size of the canvas or by substituting one stitch for another.
In this beginning needlepoint article I’ll show you two ways to do this, with pictures of the results. The first way changes the sizes of the stitches. The second changes the mesh size of the canvas.
One way to alter the scale of needlepoint dramatically is to change the size of the basic stitch unit. You can think of the Tent Stitch or a Cross Stitch as having a size of 1. It is a square covering 1 thread on all sides, or 1 square unit.
The picture at the top of this article shows you the patch used to create this sample, which is 15 threads per side, this would be a perfect size for a dollhouse pillow, as in 1:12 scale it is equal to a 10 inch pillow.
By picking another stitch in the same shape (a square in this case) but of a different size, even those beginning needlepoint can change scale.
If you expand the side of the square to 2 threads, and use a Mosaic Stitch (a square stitch covering 2 threads per side), the area is now 4 square units. Replacing each symbol on the chart with a Mosaic stitch results in a patch which is 30 threads on a side.
If you want to make it even bigger, replace the Mosaic Stitches with Giant Scotch Stitches. which cover four threads per side. As you can see from the picture above (one-quarter of design shown), this is really large and makes a very dramatic statement. The finished patch is 60 threads per side (or about 3 inches square). A single quilt block done like this makes a great ornament.
If you want to go even bigger, replace the Giant Scotch with another, bigger square stitch, like Waffle. The key to making variations is to make sure that each new stitch unit (which may be made up of more than one stitch) is a square. This allows even someone beginning needlepoint to expand the size with ease.
The picture directly above is the patch done on Congress Cloth, which has about 24 mesh per inch. So the finished size is a little bit over 1/2 inch. You can clearly see that the smaller scale adds a certain delicacy to the design.
This final picture, above, is of the patch done on 14 mono canvas, so the finished size is about an inch. Moving to even larger mesh sizes would make even larger patches. For example on 10 mesh, the finished size would be about 1.5 inches. On 7 mesh (rug canvas), it would be 2 inches.
Combining different mesh sizes with the larger scale stitches adds even more possibilities.
Knowing that you can change the size of your design in these simple ways makes it easy to customize your needlepoint. Here’s how I did it with a design I’m working on.
Draw the design on a piece of graph paper. I use 10 squares per inch because it’s easy to count.
Count up the size of the design. Mine is 82 threads square. On 18 mesh it would be 4.5 inches. On 14mesh it would be almost 6 inches. On 24 it would be about 3.5 inches.
Choose the stitch scale. The measurements above are based on Basketweave. If I wanted it twice the size, I’d pick Mosaic and the size would be 9”, 12”, and 7”. So if I wanted a pillow, I could pick Mosaic and 14 mesh.
If I wanted it four times the size, I’d pick Giant Scotch and the size would be 18”, 24”, and 14”. Probably too big.
Pick your canvas, threads, and stitch based on the end result.
With these rules, even those beginning needlepoint can customize designs beautifully.