Tag Archives: needlepoint

Coming Soon…


Needlepoint Land will stream an absolutely fantastic, spectacular, spectacular new video…

featuring  Pat Carsley’s amazing Key West Bungalow canvas…

as never seen before…

so exciting, you will have to stitch it now!!!

so inviting, you will have to ask me how!!!

Stay tuned.

Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.

The Quilt Makers


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s the cross-stitch canvas I mentioned earlier.  It’s a beautiful design by Betty Friess Baumer, called The Quilt Makers.

I didn’t have it framed with non-glare glass, so it was a bit tricky taking pics.  I solved the problem by photographing in near darkness, and played with the exposure settings on my photo editing software.  This is why not all the pics are consistent with respect to their color values.   Also, there’s some white bleed on the one shot where I used an additional light source.

At any rate, this is a larger piece than the Farmhouse with the Green Doors, which I showed you yesterday.  Quilt Makers is roughly 14 3/4″ x 18 1/2″, and consists of 106,284 individual stitches (excluding backstitches).

It’s stitched on 14 ct white Aida cloth.

Counted cross is generally stitched on Aida cloth, linen, or evenweave fabrics.  One of the nice things about Aida is that you can do angled quarter stitches and get a lot more detail than on needlepoint canvas.  But it’s fair to say that most counted cross projects are also well-suited for stitching on needlepoint canvas.

As large as this piece is, I also have teeny tiny ones on 36 ct linen over 1. Glad I finished those before the eyesight started going on the fritz!

© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.

Knot One, Stitch Too


I enjoy reading other needlepoint blogs.

Like most stitchers, I do it to keep up with needlepoint trends, or simply just to admire the beautiful work done by other needlepoint stitchers.  There are loads of super-talented stitchers out there!

French Stitch

Illo by Wiki

Yesterday, I was admiring a beautiful Maggie canvas, where the trees were done in French Knots with Bouclé thread.  I found this in a recent post  in Ruth Schmuff’s blog.

They reminded me of three ornaments, where I also used French Knots.  (I hung the trio on a guitar, to give you a sense of scale.)

French Knots, which come from the world of embroidery, are good for all kinds of effects: curly hair, a field of flowers, smoke from a chimney, or holiday garlands. It’s an effective stitch for creating dimension in a stitched canvas.

I use a variety of threads for French Knots:  metallics, overdyes, perle cotton and wool.  So, in that field of flowers, one or several different colored overdyed threads might create a realistic-looking garden.

One more thing:  I usually wrap the thread around two times.  If I want to create a denser looking knot, I can try three.  So in that field of flowers, I might vary between the two and three wraps.

That’s it on what I want to say about this stitch.

There are many other places on the net that discuss or show in great detail how to stitch the French Knot, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel.

Just let your fingers do the googling!


© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.

Heeeeerrrreee’s Freddy!


This absolute  fashion-plate of a frog by Nancy L. King and I go back aways.  By the time I became aware of this dapper big guy, he had been a long-discontinued kit by JCA.

Thus the search began, because I just had to get him. I monitored the auction websites for months:  alas, no sign of Freddy.  I was on the verge of purchasing a stitched model of the piece at a needlepoint shop,  when voilà, he appeared.  I bid, and won him.

Based on the two crowns that are on his vest, not to mention the circles under his eyes, my guess would be that on occasion he really enjoys a quaff or two of the King of Beers.

Anyway, when I went to NY this summer, Freddy came along for the ride. And since it was so hot up there, I spent a lot time stitching him.

Now, he’s  back from the finisher.  Doesn’t he look as spiffy as spiff can be!

Btw, I mostly stitched this frog as JCA instructed. I found some #32 braid black Kreinik in my stash, and used that for his eyes. For the whites, I used the new Kreinik color #5760.

One other thing. I can’t emphasize this enough:  finishers make the piece.

Note the dragonfly in Freddy’s hand, and the chain that attaches his  pocket watch to his waistcoat.

Also, the material my finisher chose for the backing works with all the colors of the canvas, and I’m thrilled with the result.

The thing is, I wonder if Freddy’s checking his pocket watch because he is late for a dinner date at  La Grenouille?

© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.

Stairstep Stitch Tutorial


Also just added a new needlepoint stitch tutorial in the How To menu option, and linking to it in my famous “No Frills” Stitch Guide for Mr. Owl.   The guide, btw, is almost ready, just proofing it one last time, at this point.  The canvas image in the tutorial came out a little gigantic, but I think it’s part of the DIY charm of it all!

© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.

Sands of Time


E. Best

This canvas and I go back a-ways, to the late 90s. I first saw it at a needlepoint store in New Canaan, CT. I was with my German Shepherd puppy, and went to check out this new needlepoint store. I saw the mandala canvas and immediately thought of the rather enjoyable period in my life when I worked at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York. I don’t know why I didn’t just buy the canvas, at the time.  Maybe it was because the little puppy was car sick that day, and I had to get him home. Whatever the reason, I didn’t end up purchasing this beautiful work of art. But I’ve thought about this canvas, often, over the years — and finally bought it while at the Dallas Needlepoint show in April of this year.

Front view of the American Museum of Natural H...

Front view of the American Museum of Natural History (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my projects at the AMNH was to publicize the six-week construction of a Tibetan Sand Mandala, during the summer of 1988, by a number of Buddhist monks from the Namgyal Monastery.  They painstakingly created it with colorful grains of sand. The ritual was a spectacle to behold.  It was a publicist’s dream: the news stories generated was the size of the Manhattan phone book. Over fifty thousand visitors came to see this very special exhibition.

It had an amazing effect on everyone who came to watch the monks silently assemble their masterpiece. I still remember clearly one example of this.  The AMNH, unlike its stodgy counterpart, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, across the Park, was known for being very tolerant of spirited young children. Once those rowdy youngsters stepped into the room where the mandala was being assembled, they were transfixed, absolutely mesmerized — you could hear a pin drop. Many print and TV reporters brought their own children, repeatedly, to see this elegant spiritual exercise unfold. Mandalas were historically done in secret, but the Dalai Lama gave his blessing to make their cultural traditions available to the world, before those traditions became extinct from the Chinese occupation of Tibet.

If you think of needlepoint, as I often do, as a sort of  Zen-like pursuit, then this canvas is the closest representation that I can equate to the devotion and care the monks took working on the mandala during that summer. Every painted stitch on this canvas has been skillfully applied, much as each individual grain of sand was meticulously placed by the monks. Don’t get me wrong, every canvas that is stitch-painted is done with care, time, and accuracy — but this one, to me, because of its subject matter, captures this spirit particularly well.

Alas, I don’t know which mandala this canvas represents*, but the one at the Museum was the “Wheel of Time” or Kalachakra mandala. In fact, one of my favorite headlines about it was entitled, “Sifting the Sands of Time”. Shockingly, to our western culture, upon completion of the mandala, the monks led a ceremonial procession to the Hudson River and threw it into its swirling waters. In their spiritual beliefs, that act represented the temporal nature of life.

This is one place where the monks and I part ways:  you can rest assured that, when I finish stitching this canvas, that I shall have it framed, and hanging on a wall.

There is spirituality, too, in wanting to share with others the results of one’s handiwork.

© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.

* NB. After talking with Eileen Best, it became clear that this canvas is part of the Kalachakra (or Wheel of Time) mandala.

Back Home


Just got back late, late last night from Destination Dallas.  Just missed that terrible twister that did so much damage; I certainly hope everyone else got back safely.

Had a really wonderful time, except for losing my cell phone on the plane upon landing, and having all kinds of problems with my room key.

Luckily the airline’s Lost and Found called me, and it turned out I am not the only one who loses cell phones on airplanes:  when I eventually turned up at the Lost and Found desk, they had three boxes full of them, and a separate one for iPhones.  Many thanks to the kind stranger who found my cell phone and turned it in!

Other than that, it was wonderful show… the dinner was fabulous, the classes I attended were informative; and I really appreciated the opportunity to sit down in a one-on-one setting with famous designers, stitchers, vendors, as well as the chance to meet and exchange ideas with other needlepoint retailers.

Anyway, I only have time here to put up a quick pic of some of Denise’s interesting canvases, as I have to run and take care of some things today.  I don’t know about you, but I find the visuals of Day of the Dead (a celebration which in Mexico takes place on November 2) themes quite appealing… and I bought a number of canvases this year that I am sure I will have a lot of fun with,  I look forward to creating stitching guides for these, stitching some of them, and, of course, selling those I can bear parting with.

Dia de los Muertos art  has long been popularized by the work of various Mexican folk artists, including the great Jose Manuel Salas, and in literature of course was the basis of Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, one of the finest novels ever written in the English language.

Well… gotta go… expect much more news, and lots of pics, later in the week.

© Erin McGrath and Needlepointland.com, 2012 – 2016.

Pink Flamingos



This canvas design reminds me of an attractive Visit Florida tourism poster: pink flamingos, oranges, beaches, and plentiful sunshine.

The canvas is 18-mesh mono. I think the flamingo would look lovely if stitched in hot pink Gumnuts “poppies,” combined with a whispy thread, such as Fuzzy Stuff, or Petite Peluche.

I would use the Nobuko stitch for the sand, and, just for excitement, a bargello variation for the ocean, in a sparkly thread like Petite Sparkle Rays. A sparkly woven stitch in a bright green metallic might work nicely for the palm leaves.

But while this design is fine and dandy for the tourist crowd, sometimes what you really want to see is what Florida used to be like, before all the marinas, condos, and million dollar homes on the water.

Read the rest of this entry