napa valley mustard needlepoint

Napa Valley Mustard, design & photo copyright Napa Needlepoint

This needlepoint instruction shows you how to do clumping, an easy way to use hand-dyed and overdyed threads. Areas done in clumping are done in two passes, the first pass is easiest to do in Continental, while the second pass can be done in Basketweave or Continental.

In the samples, I have used a shade of overdye which has dramatic color changes for demonstration purposes. Your results will be better when the overdye is more subtle, as in the examples at the end of the needlepoint instruction.

Create Clumps

clumping needlepoint tent stitch technique

tent stitch technique of clumping using overdyed threads, photo copyright Napa Needlepoint

Begin by threading up and starting to stitch in about the middle of the area, right picture. Stitch in a small irregular clump (hence the name) but ONLY until the color of the thread changes. When this happens, move your needle a bit and make another clump, above center. The clumps shouldn’t be more than five stitches wide and high, although this size will depend on how quickly the colors change. The edges of the clumps should be uneven on all sides, so it’s OK to skip stitches, even within the clumps, left picture.

Continue to do this until at least two thirds of the area has clumps, above left. Clumps can be next to each other, above center, which is especially nice to create larger clumps of the same color. Or they can be separated by several stitches, middle picture.

Fill the Spaces

finished clumping tent stitch needlepoint technique

finished area in clumping, photo copyright Napa Needlepoint

For the second step, begin in the upper left or lower right corner of the area an fill in all the open stitches. above. Because you are using the same overdye, sometimes these stitches will fill out the clumps and sometimes the color will be different, but that’s part of the fun.

A Stitched Piece with Clumps

The piece at the top of the page shows areas of clumping as used in actual designs. It uses a matte cotton thread to depict distant crop-covered hills. I have used Gloriana Silk in a stained glass design to mimic the effect of Tiffany art glass (available free on Nuts about Needlepoint).

I find myself using this technique often to create stone walls, brick houses, and lots more. It’s a great way to control hand-dyed and overdyed threads.

This technique is particularly effective to create the effect. of “art” glass when adapting stained glass to your needlepoint.