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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Needlepoint - Right from the Beginning

Sometimes I think that although I became addicted to needlepoint in 1970, I did not really learn how to do needlepoint until sometime in the early 80’s. Because my then I actually had learned about materials, good technique etc. So here’s a pile of mostly unorganized tips to get you started right.
Use your guild or shop! Shopowners want to turn your from browsers into regular customers. So ask them how to do a stitch, what thread you could try, what might be a good background. Take a beginner’s class if it is offered. Find out the name and meeting time of your local guild. When I am at my local shop stitching, I often help the customers there. Stitchers are friendly and love to share!
Use the freebies out there. Many sites and shops have free patterns. These patterns can help you learn new threads, techniques and stitches. If you use them for practice instead of a doodle cloth, you could have something charming when you are done to look at with pride.
It will not necessarily be right the first time, but strive to make it as good as you can. Going slowly at first helps. Your hands learn the pattern and rhythm of the stitch. Strive for correct placement and even tension of each stitch. This is especially important when doing tent stitch. Work on small pieces until you feel comfortable with correct tension. Even after more than 30 years, my tension can be improved — but it has been good for at least two thirds of that time because I worked at it.
Know what things you have and keep them together. I go through my stash about one a year, clean up things regularly and keep an inventory of threads. It does not always work, but I am much better about not buying things I already own.
Get needlepoint tools and a container to keep them in. This will keep them corralled. In our house tweezers are the thing we lose — people take my needlepoint ones and then I do not have them when I need them.
Use a frame of some kind for your needlepoint. This can be a scroll frame or stretcher bars (not an embroidery hoop). Since tension is at the heart of needlepoint (you are really making a new fabric here), keeping your canvas taut makes a difference. Get in this habit early and you won’t have problems later.
Find a good stitching chair. People stitch in lots of different places and where you sit should be comfortable not cramped. Lots of people like chairs which let them sit mostly straight with high backs. I used a wing chair for years, but now I have switched to a Mission style recliner with wide wood arms.
This may sound strange, but have the TV on (even if it’s muted) or talk to someone when you stitch. If you keep your eyes on your stitching and don’t look up, your eyes will get fatigued. If you are talking to someone or watching TV, then you will look up to see what is happening. Doing this even for a few seconds regularly will relieve the strain. My family knows when I have a stitching deadline because I rent three movies a day! Last — stitch because you love it! Make what you do a pleasure, even if it’s just for yourself.
Janet M. Perry is one of the leading writers of needlepoint stitch guides in the world. She writes innovative guides for needlepoint canvases from over 20 designers. She puts into practice her motto to make needlepoint fast, fun and affordable.
She is an expert in needlepoint, both on the Web and through her writing as the Needlepoint Pro for Cross-Stitch & Needlework magazine. She works with deigners, shops, and thread manufacturers on new products and regularly reports on trends in needlepoint.
Her newest book, Needlepoint Trade Secrets, will be available in the summer of 2007 on Amazon. Visit her website ( or blog ( to learn about my newest products.
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Napa Needlepoint said...

Thanks, Jean for the great tips.

My family knows when I'm on deadlines too because of all the movies.

Last night, with deadlines looming, it was four hours of TV though and I made great progress.

Thanks again.

Keep Stitching,

Jean said...

I'm glad to help with any and all info. Glad to hear that you were able to make great progress.