Golden needles!

For a while now I’ve been thinking about needlepoint. I must say this has taken me by surprise, I’ve never been too keen on woolliness. I do, however, like a great deal of tapestry, both contemporary and historical, and of course tapestry is woven, not stitched: but the surface of needlepoint or canvas work, call it what you will is something I find equally attractive. I have decided to blame this new interest on Tina Francis, and my friends in Quatrefoil, an artists group I am a member of, who didn’t laugh when I suggested my new interest, but instead were very enthusiastic. Then of course there’s Kaffe Fassett, and one or two there contemporary makers.

It is a technique, like many textile techniques, that is open to many interpretations. To put it simply, there is something for everyone. But, there is some exciting contemporary work going on, and that is what interests me. I like to see an established and somewhat sedate technique put to new use; for several decades now a similar thing has been happening with quilt art and embroidery. There is, however, a lot further to go in terms of routinely getting textile technique based art into the main art world, where the money and the recognition is.

I’m still enjoying my mixed media work, this is just another bit of media to add to the mix. I’m taking some print courses soon too, so that will be something else new and exciting to either incorporate or be inspired by.


I’ve based my work upon a piece fro my series From the Bright Sky: the image of this is bottom left. I redesigned it in a square format, and drew the cartoon in black pen, which was easy to see when I transferred it to the canvas, which is 10 count. I’ve gone too close to the edge, but there again I always do.

Those are the wools I am using, and I’m just waiting for some black and two whites to be delivered; I may buy a couple more colours too. The chart at top right is from a free programme which converts your image into a pattern, but it’s not quite accurate enough for me, probably because the initial image is too complicated.


The original image.


The cartoon, 49 x 49 cm.


The design drawn out onto the canvas.


Just getting going. I’m basically making it up as I go along.




The chart, don’t try to get it into focus, you will go mad. Useful colour references though, but I must admit I did that by eye.


And here they are, golden needles! Better for needlepoint apparently, and rather gorgeous too. And so easy to thread. I reckon it’s all worth it just to build up a collection of gold plated needles.

10 thoughts on “Golden needles!

  1. Stephanie, is there no end to your inventive skills?! I’ve done quite a lot of tapestry in the past and there’s currently one about half finished in a cupboard upstairs…. shall I get it out? Yours, of course, are in a league of their own. Mine have either been ready printed or worked from a chart in a book. I look forward to asking you some questions about your techniques and maybe have a go myself at something new. My problem is that daylight is best for me due to colour matching and the daylight evenings are due to draw to a close all too soon. Whatever, you are inspiring. Jane x

  2. Well, I never saw that one coming!! I have memories of doing needlepoint when I worked in Canada in the 1970’s where everyone was at it. Drove me doolally as it was slow to grow but that was old fashioned stuff and this sounds pretty cool to me. Stitching your own designs is fantastic and I now want to do a google search for ‘contemporary needlepoint’ to see what it throws up.Great image and colour choices to start with. Do share the print courses too at a later stage. Is this a fun thing to do for yourself thing or is it the start of another direction for work? I await with interest!

    1. Ha ha, neither did I Lesley! I’m not sure where it’s going, but we all need something new to keep things fresh occasionally. The printmaking courses are also just to have a bit of fun but also on a more serious level to perhaps spark some new ideas and thoughts, which will feed into the textile work.

  3. Oooh, I used to do tapestry like this. I am looking forward to seeing the finished work Steph. Love the design process from one media to another. Best wishes, Vicki

  4. This is a really inspiring post. I have recently enrolled on a beginners basic tapestry weaving course and am very excited about it – sadly it’s not until February! I have been considering all sorts of different ways to extend my own work beyond painting/printmaking and stitched/collaged textiles and this post has inspired me. The freebie design programme looks interesting. I shall look forward to seeing what happens with your piece.

  5. I love tapestries, and would really love to learn tapestry weaving. I know what you mean about needing to add something new to your mix of media, I am however still quite surprised about my new interest! It’s been brewing for some time but I didn’t take it seriously at first.

    I am very happy you found the post inspiring, thank you for saying, it’s so good to have people share a new practice with enthusiam. I’ll post the progression of the piece and some new designs I am planning to work on as soon as I have moved some boring jobs along.

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