Have Your Say

19th August 2022

Converting Designs and Interesting Books

All Stitched Up! issue #339 included a question from a reader, Chermaine Bell, who lamented over the challenge of converting cross stitch designs to needlepoint. Chermaine is a needlepoint lover but is often captured by cross stitch designs and wondered whether there was any easy way to convert the latter designs to the former technique. We asked the question, and our community stepped up to the plate as we knew they would!

Susan Mickey said that this conversion was something she did all the time. She said that the key thing to remember is that cross stitch tends to be finer, using a higher count fabric. She counts the stitches in both directions, then measures that on her canvas just to get an idea of how much bigger the finished piece is going to be. She then uses basic tent stitch, converting the colours to wools and being careful of her tension so that the stitches don’t pull the fabric out of alignment.

Jackie Williams concurred with Susan, emphasising the importance of taking measurements before you start as the finished piece on canvas will be larger than it would be on aida or evenweave.

Jackie also added that cross stitch designs can be used for knitting as well, so they are endlessly adaptable!

Roberta Kenney wrote in to say that although she’s not converted cross stitch patterns to canvas, she has converted crewel patterns to cross stitch. However, she gave a step-by-step of how she determined you would convert a graph-based cross stitch pattern to needlepoint:

  1. Choose your canvas, preferably with a similar thread count.
  2. Choose your threads, or wools that are close to the colours suggested in the pattern.
  3. Determine the size needed for the canvas.
  4. Frame up your canvas.
  5. Choose a stitch for the background or paint your canvas. You could also purchase a canvas of the appropriate colour if preferred.
  6. Baste a 10 x 10 grid on your canvas to make it easier counting stitches from the graph. You can choose to stitch using a basic tent stitch or choose any other stitches that may be appropriate to the design or that you like.

Roberta also kindly provided an example of a crewel design she converted using this process. She took the outline from an early American crewel pattern and overlaid it with a 14-count clear plastic graph. She then chose which stitches to fill the areas and the appropriate colours. This satisfied one of her stitching friends who loved crewel designs but just couldn’t do surface stitching!

Moving on to books now and it’s great to hear that our community is really enjoying reading all of the suggestions we’ve shared in recent months. Ellen Tabak told us how much she loved reading ‘The Gown’ by Jennifer Robson. She’s now on to ‘Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle’ by Clare Hunter and is enjoying that too.

Lorraine Ellison told us she bought a copy of ‘The Silk Weaver’ by Liz Trenow, which she likens to Tracey Chevalier’s work. Liz was born into a weaving family in Suffolk in the UK, and she traced her weaving ancestors right back to the 1700s. Using the knowledge she’d gained from her research, she wrote ‘The Silk Weaver’, a story about a female artist who becomes a talented designer of silk fabric. 

The main character is modelled on a real, 18th century woman, Anna Maria Garthwaite, who produced over 1000 designs for weaving silk.

The book explores the weaving industry at the time and blends fiction and history beautifully.

Probably the most recommended book we have had to date is ‘The Coat Route’ by Meg Lukens Noonan. Susan Hobkirk wanted to add her recommendation for it to the many others we’ve received.

Finally, Alison Springett has brought a new book to our attention – ‘Embroidering Her Truth’ by Clare Hunter. This is a nonfiction book that was published this year. It tells the story of Mary, Queen of Scots, demonstrating how she used textiles and embroidery to advance her political agenda, affirm her royal lineage and tell her own story. Dubbed a ‘cultural biography’, it blends history, politics and memoir to tell the story of the queen in her own voice.

After all of this fabulous discussion, we are going to grab our stitching, one of the many books we’ve been recommended, and a nice hot cup of tea and settle down in our stitching nook to enjoy a wonderful afternoon doing our favourite things. We hope you get to do the same.

Join our FREE weekly newsletter All Stitched Up!

Back to top