Fair Isle charts are a wonderful source of ideas, This needlepoint instruction shows you just how easy it is to do.
I have long been a fan of Fair Isle knitting (it must be the inner preppy coming out). So a couple of years ago when I saw a couturier sweater in Fair Isle patterns in the bright colors, I ripped it out of the magazine and vowed it would become a needlepoint someday. I finally did it, as you can see.
Looking for Fair Isle Knitting Patterns on the Internet found me mostly ones which were not charted. You want to find ones which are. The charts, a free one is further down the page, look like cross stitch charts with the symbols in the grid squares. The needlepoint instruction to make them couldn’t be easier, just stitch them over the intersections.
In this type of knitting the background is one color and the motifs another, as you can see from this picture of another Fair Isle project I made, although the color used for the motif can change row by row. Far less common is Fair Isle with more than two colors in a row, although my inspiration sweater did that.
One cool way to adapt Fair Isle to needlepoint is to use an overdyed thread for the background, especially one which has shades of the same color. This adds a nice layer of texture similar to knitting with hand-dyed yarns. The solid colored motifs stand out nicely against it.
Here’s the chart for the piece with the red background above. To make it easier to see, I kept the background blank. The motifs are repeated on top and bottom with the blue motif as the center. Because these motifs are narrow, I made them all one color.
Fair Isle and related techniques are considered advanced knitting techniques because you are knitting with multiple colors in the same row. But for needlepoint, it is an easy technique.
There are lots of books of Fair Isle techniques out there. Some I like include this Dover book, Traditional Fair Isle Knitting, and a classic book of sweaters from the early 80’s called Fair Isle Knitting.
Fair Isle is one of a number of knitting traditions which use graphic elements in horizontal stripes to make sweaters. The Fair Isles are off the coast of Scotland, but there are similar traditions in Scandinavia, see them in a book called Traditional Scandinavian Knitting, and Latvian (Latvian Mittens is a book to look for here). Similar geometric motifs occur in many other kinds of embroidered folk art.
The patterns I used were taken from Fabulous Fair Isle (now out of print, but available used).
This needlepoint instruction in adaptation is so fun and so easy to do, I’ve been thinking about making more ever since I finished. Now I’m ready to make some Christmas ornaments this way — I’ll add the results to a gallery here.
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In this needlepoint instruction, you’ll learn the basics for adapting change ringing.You probably haven’t heard of change ringing unless you read Dorothy Sayers or live in England. But you may have been near a church which has a peal of bells and rings it this way.
If you do then you may have heard the bells ringing in what sounds like a patterned sequence — that’s change ringing. If you read Dorothy Sayers, one of the Peter Whimsy novels, The Nine Tailors has change ringing as its central theme.
In college, I had a friend who was a change ringer in Washington, DC at the National Cathedral, which has a wonderful peal of bells. It’s great to hear them.
In change ringing the bells, four to twelve, are rung in a particular sequence. Each time the bells are rung they are rung in a different sequence. This site has a little applet which allows you to set up some bells and play a peal. It plays the bells for you and writes out the sequence as each is rung. It’s totally cool. The National American Guild of Change Ringers has an outstanding site that gives some background information.
Now you know what Change Ringing is, but how do you adapt it to needlepoint?
I was intrigued by an article I read awhile ago, which used Change Ringing to knit socks. The colored inset on the socks is a peal sequence.
So why not do this in needlepoint? It would work best as a border, since the sequence will always be narrow. I picked an seven bell peal for this needlepoint instruction.
Begin by choosing your stitch. If you want it to be seven stitches wide, use Continental, 14, use Mosaic, bigger use Scotch, Rice, or any other square stitch. The model above uses Mosaic.
Next pick your thread colors. You will need seven colors and you should write down which color is assigned to each number. For simplicity I used six shades of Silk & Ivory. I loved the look on the socks of the red running through the cool color background, so I picked, Red Hot for one number and cooler colors for the others.
To make my sequence I used the peal from near the beginning of The Nine Tailors, which I’m rereading. As peals go, it’s pretty simple.
I wrote the sequence out on graph paper, so I wouldn’t get lost. The sequence is:
Red was used for 3 and the other colors are shades of violet and blue violet. Notice there is no one and that 2 is always in the first position.
I charted it for ease of stitching.
By using this needlepoint instruction, you can adapt this, or any sequence of numbers, to needlepoint.
This needlepoint instruction will help you identify line drawings intended for embroidery suitable for needlepoint. With the renewed interest in free embroidery (embroidery on a on-counted ground or fabric), you can find lots of pretty cool free patterns intended to transfer onto a piece of fabric.
But you can just as easily transfer them onto a piece of needlepoint canvas and use them as a line-drawing for your needlepoint.
When you look at embroidery transfer designs, what you see are the lines of the design which will be covered with stitching. Most free embroidery of this type relies on the fabric to covey the design and so they have lots of open spaces.
This is good for us as needlepointers because we will fill those areas up with stitches.
The Most Important Thing: Look for designs with open areas which aren’t filled with lots of lines to be covered.
But (isn’t there always a but), in free embroidery other details, like facial expression are conveyed with lines and other details as well.
Here is where you have a problem. When you embroider on cloth you can stick a stitch anywhere, it can be any angle, it can stop or start anyplace. But with needlepoint you are stuck with the grid. The bigger the wholes, the fewer details you can convey. So a design with too many little details will lose them when changed to needlepoint.
It’s like looking at a scene through a screen as opposed to through a window. With the screen you can see everything, yes, but you lose detail. Needlepoint canvas is the screen.
But that still leaves plenty to choose from. The needlepoint instruction on transferring a design to canvas shows you step-by-step how to do this.