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More Mosaic Needlepoint Projects

By Peggy Bond

Geometric designs occur frequently in Pompeii as well was throughout ancient civilizations. Most often they are used as floors and many are black and white. In Pompeii are several polychrome mosaic floor treatments. One was found at the House of Publius Fannius Synistor where it was a threshold in the summer dining area. The mosaic stones were red, green, yellow, and gray on a white and black background. Discovered when the villa was excavated by Vincenzo de Prisco in 1894-5, the mosaic was removed to the excavator’s residence where is resided until acquired by the Archaeological Commission of Pompeii. The NeedlePaint recreation of this mosaic is a 22 x 40 inch 10 point canvas to be worked in Waverly wool and suitable for a rug or wall hanging.

Threshold from the House of Publius Fannius Synistor

Threshold from the House of Publius Fannius Synistor

Pompeii Mosaic Needlepoint Rug Kit

Pompeii Mosaic Needlepoint Rug Kit

Another distinctive geometric polychrome mosaic treatment is found on the columns in the appropriately name House of the Mosaic Columns. The columns are on display in the National Archeological Museum of Naples. The Needlepaint mosaic design is the section of the base of a column and is a 16 x 16 inch 14-point canvas to be worked in DMC threads or 2 stands of Waverly wool, ideal for a colorful pillow.

Column section from the House of the Mosaic Columns

Column section from the House of the Mosaic Columns

Polychrome Mosaic Needlepoint Pillow

Mosaic Column Needlepoint Pillow

These canvases are designed to be stitched using the mosaic stitch and thus much quicker to stitch than using the traditional continental for tent stitches.

Bringing Ancient Mosaics to Needlepaint

By Peggy Bond:

While I walked through ancient Rome and Pompeii, the mosaics on floors, walls, and columns were transformed in my mind to needlepoint pillows, wall hangings, rugs and a myriad of new projects..

Transferring a mosaic design to a canvas had several advantages over the same task for a photo. The number of colors is limited, the design or subject is not too complex, and the background is uniform, except for the grout lines.

Throwing caution to the wind, I attacked the Pompeii guard dog mosaics from the House of Orpheus – 4 colors and a simple image.

Guard dog from the House of Orpheus

Guard dog from the House of Orpheus

The challenge was not creating canvas, but giving the stitched canvas the feel of the mosaic. An individual continental or tent stitch was too small to approximate a mosaic tile, but the mosaic stitch is just as its name suggest. A perfect stitch for the mosaic guard dog!

Mosaic Stitch

Mosaic Stitch

Additionally, the cashmere stitch (a rectangular mosaic) which can be stitched vertically or horizontally could be used to outline the dog as done by the ancient artisans with stone.

Horizontal and Vertical Cashmere Stitch

Horizontal and Vertical Cashmere Stitch

The canvas was designed on a 2 x 2 pixel grid (the size of 1 mosaic) instead of the usual 1 x 1 pixel. Then the number of colors on the image were reduced to 4 – black, off-white, dark brown, and red. There was editing to do to fill most of each grid square with only one color. In some cases, this was not possible and when stitching these areas were filled with the continental stitch.

Close-up of canvas image design

Close-up of canvas image design

As scene in the finished canvas below, I used the cashmere stitch to outline the dog and the leash.

Guard dog from the House of Orpheus Needlepoint Pillow - Finished!

Guard dog from the House of Orpheus Needlepoint Pillow – Finished!

The canvas was 12 point and is worked in Brown Sheep Waverly wool for a16 x 16 inch pillow.

Canvases for three other Pompeii dogs are also available.

Cave Canem Needlepoint Canvas

Cavae Canem from the House of the Tragic Poet

Guard Dog from House of Paquius Proculus

Guard Dog from House of Paquius Proculus

Sleeping Dog from the House of Lucius Caecilius Lucundus

Sleeping Dog from the House of Lucius Caecilius Lucundus

A Very Needlepoint Christmas to All

Christmas and Hanukkah are almost here!  Our little workshop has shipped over a hundred belts this past week and almost as many needlepoint kits.  We hope they all arrive and bring smiles to families across the country.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year, and are looking forwards to 2017.  We’ll be offering some new services for our needlepointers and for our customers who are looking for fully stitched products.

Those of you thinking of taking up a new hobby, please check out what an art needlepoint really is.  You’re in for a treat, we have a Customer Spotlight at the bottom of this post.

Needlepoint Christmas Belt

Our first Big announcement for 2017 is that we’re now selling fully stitched custom needlepoint stocking!  We’ve sold some over the years, but finally have put a listing online in our Etsy shop.  Our designers are here to work with you, whether you’re trying to match an heirloom needlepoint stocking, or looking for an updated needlepoint design, needlepoint stockings truly are timeless.

Personalized Nutcracker Needlepoint Christmas Stocking

Our Fully Stitched Nutcracker Needlepoint Stockings in wool with velvet backing.

What better to give than a gift of personal memories!  These custom needlepoint pillows are going to a fishing lodge, but I had to sneak some pictures under the tree.

Needlepoint Fishing Pillows

Needlepoint Fishing Pillows

And those of you who made it this far are in for a treat.  Lisa, in New York just finished her second project ever.  She stitched this amazing Clara Nutcracker Stocking!  It is the same design as above (we did customize the background a bit), but you can see her talent in selecting her own colors and especially choosing fun stitches and embellishments that add even more depth and texture to the stocking.  Nice work Lisa!

Needlepoint is Fun and amazing. I hope you share these images with your friends and help inspire them to learn to needlepoint in 2017!

Fun Stitch Needlepoint Christmas Stocking

Fun Stitch Needlepoint Christmas Stocking

Christmas Needlepoint Ideas

Are you looking for that special gift that will be cherished for generations to come?

We’ve got a LOT of ideas here that are sure to not only show off your talent as a needlepointer, but that are all sure to be loved by the younger generations who often seem to be too busy to learn the art of needlepoint.

For the beginner stitcher.  We’ve recently added some great Christmas Needlepoint ideas that are smaller and simple, but for the experienced stitcher, leave plenty of space for fancy stitches to spice up.

Needlepoint Ornaments are small and quick.  Our custom needlepoint ornament listing lets you decide what to stitch!  Think of a favorite photo, pet, old home, sport, or cherished memory.

Christmas Needlepoint Ornament Ideas

Christmas Needlepoint Ornament Ideas

A Custom Needlepoint Belt will be a huge hit under the tree.  We offer custom designed needlepoint belt kits, or fully stitched needlepoint belts.

Custom Needlepoint Golf Belt

Custom Needlepoint Golf Course Belt

Needlepoint Wallets and needlepoint Flasks are both easy projects for beginners and we now offer leather finishing as optional extra.

And the my personal FAVORITE, a Custom Needlepoint Stocking!  We’re now happy to offer fully stitched and custom needlepoint stocking kits.  We’ve got dozens of designs under our Christmas Needlepoint theme that are made to be personalized, and of course we’d love to design something custom for you!

Custom Christmas Needlepoint Stockings

Custom Christmas Needlepoint Stockings

Last but not least, for the more experienced stitcher, you can Needlepoint your own Photo!  Most popular are dogs and cats.  We’ve also done hundreds of homes, landscapes, and art needlepoint projects.  These can be turned into a pillow or hung up on a wall.  We now offer Pillow Finishing and if you don’t needlepoint, even offer fully stitched custom needlepoint pillows.

***Custom needlepoint kits available with standard shipping until Dec. 12th.  Our order deadline for fully stitched products in 2016 was Nov. 1st.  But we do offer custom designed Gift Cards that show your design that is being stitched, so you would not be empty handed if you decide to give the gift of needlepoint but don’t have the time to stitch it yourself.

Also, a special thanks to Jen in VA, who stitched the two custom needlepoint projects below!  Thanks and happy holidays to all!

Custom Needlepoint House and Cats

Custom Needlepoint House and Cats

A New Bible for Needlepoint

The 3rd edition of Jo Ippolito Christensen’s The Needlepoint Book is out. I hadn’t imagined that this bible of needlepointing could get any better but it has!

Needlepoint Book Cover

Needlepoint Book Cover

The new edition includes expanded discussion of techniques for stitching and design as well as 225 new color plates and over 40 new stitches. I haven’t absorbed even half of the new material, but I have already spotted some new ideas for my next Needlepaint project — open work on belts. (Give me a couple of weeks and I will let you know how it works.)

I have both the print and eBook version and I like them for different reasons. I am a bit of a book snob and I love my paper versions — thus the print. However, I travel a lot and in order to keep my suitcase light, I got the eBook. I am delighted with both. A plus to the eBook is the color plates which can be enlarged on the screen to view details. The plus to the print version is ease of finding and comparing stitches.

And, this is not all that comes with the new edition. There is going to be a stitch app for our mobile devices. It isn’t out yet, but for those who by the print or eBook you need to go to  from your mobile device and enter your  information. Simon & Schuster will notify you with your download code as soon as the app is made available. I can’t wait!

Needlepaint a Quilt

After Needlepaint began carrying the Brown Sheep Waverly wool, I decided that I needed to attack a large project — a 20” by 24” rug on 12 point canvas. For design ideas, I turned to my quilting sister, Mary Sue Suit, who never ceases to amaze me with her unique designs based on triangles.

We finally chose her Pansy Quilt which was quilted by Judy Woodworth. Why we chose it, I don’t know, but maybe it had something to do with pansies being one of my favorite flowers and my granddaughter loves purple. Usually Mary Sue gives her quilts names but this one is nameless…. We welcome suggestions.

Pansies Quilt

Pansies Quilt

The straight lines of the triangles meant the quilt design transferred easily to a custom needlepoint canvas.  I worked the canvas with all 3 strands of the Waverly wool and chose one of the variegated colors for the light lavender of the above design. For the backing we used medium-weight wool. The finished rug makes a beautiful accent to the spectacular quilt.  The same pattern could be down sized for an 18 point miniature needlepoint hanging. Or, one could turn the center pansy medallion into a 12 or 14 point pillow. The possibilities are limited only by one’s tolerance for pansies which don’t have to be purple.


Pansy Quilt Rig Color Guide

Pansy Quilt Rig Color Guide


Needlepaint can print canvases up to 36” by 40” and we recommend 10 or 12 point canvas for rugs. I chose 12 point canvas because I wanted the finished rug to be firm without having to use a heavy backing or filler.

Needlepoint Rug and Quilt

Needlepoint Rug and Quilt

Needlepoint Peacock Stitches Update!

Lauren has been busy on her peacock canvas.

This custom needlepoint kit is based on one of her paintings.

Nice work Lauren, I can’t wait to see the next update!

You can preview your own custom needlepoint project on our website –

Needlepoint Peacock Stitches

Needlepoint Peacock Stitches

Metallic Needlepoint Threads

Cape of MaltaAfter a visit to the Legion of Honor Museum in Paris, I got inspired to retry some metallic threads. What prompted was this magnificent cape. It doesn’t show well in this picture, but all of the designs are stitched with glistening metallic thread. If you click on the image, for a better view of the details.

Any way, I had some metallic DMC thread in the selection of threads that I had with me on my trip and decided that I should dress up the stockings a bit. I had used the thread before and found working with it difficult. It cracked easily and my needle slipped off easily.

Candy CanesFirst lesson: Use it sparingly. I liked what I got when I added it as an accent to the bow on the candy canes. The underlying yellow was done in a modified satin stitch and the gold thread was stitched over one out of three yellow satin stitches.

Second lesson: Be patient and take it slowly.

Third lesson: Avoid the continental stitch. It was the only alternative for the tops of the ornaments and shouldn’t have used it on the blue and white ornament.


I am still working on the stocking and am contemplating where to use more metallic threads and beads. Stocking should be finished for my next post.

How to Choose the Right Needlepoint Canvas

We get a fair amount of orders from people who are purchasing custom needlepoint projects as gifts for other people (especially around Christmas).

One of the most common questions we get is what is the “correct” mesh count to purchase and how “easy” is the design.

To start out, there is no “correct” mesh count as different stitchers prefer different counts.  

For a newbie learning about needlepoint, the mesh count stands for the number of stitches in one linear inch.  That means you measure 1 inch along a line on the canvas, and count the number holes.  A 10 mesh count means there are 10 holes per inch.  A 18 mesh count canvas means that there are 18 holes per inch.  This may not sound like a lot, but to a stitcher it is a HUGE difference.  If you consider that 10 mesh count canvas has 100 stitches in a square inch and 18 mesh count has 324 stitches per sq. in. that means that the stitcher has a LOT more stitching to do if you order 18 mesh count canvas.  Thus, I suggest not ordering 18 count canvas on any design that is wider or taller than 12 inches.  For smaller canvases it is OK to use 18 mesh count because it allows the design to show a lot more detail. Some stitchers do prefer more detail at larger sizes, so this is just a guideline for reference.

Things to consider when choosing mesh count:

  • The stitchers eyesight.  18 count has more stitches per inch, so the holes are a lot smaller and harder to see.  10 mesh has the largest holes.  If she has weakening eyesight, you may want to avoid 18 mesh count canvas.  14 or larger should be OK.
  • Fiber preference.  Needlepointers love to work with a lot of different fibers, the most common are wool, cotton, and silk.  13 and 14 mesh count canvas will work with almost any fiber and are the most commonly used canvas today.  If the stitcher prefers wool, you may want to use a canvas with 14, 12, or 10 mesh count.  With 18 count canvas we only supply cotton, but there are other fibers that will work, just not as many.
  • The design details.  Higher mesh counts (18 and 14) will show more detail than the larger mesh counts (12 and 10).  Belt canvases often come on 18 mesh count canvas because you need the extra stitches to show designs on an area that is so limited in height.  If your design is very detailed or you want to fit a lot into a smaller area, you will want to use 18 mesh count.  But, if you try the 14 mesh count option on the website and still think it looks good, you can use that too.
  • The design size. If you find that you need more detail but have to use larger holes, you can always increase the overall size of the design, this an alternative way to increase the detail, but does add to the cost of the project.  Typically I think the sweet spot for design size is around 12 x 8 inches.
  • To see how to adjust the mesh count and height, watch our how to design a pillow instructional video.
Carrots of Many Colors 10 mesh count vs 18 mesh count canvas

Carrots of Many Colors 10 mesh count vs 18 mesh count canvas. The 18 mesh is on the right and shows a lot more detail.

Next we have the “easy” question, or degree of difficulty.

This is very subjective, but there are some obvious guidelines that can help you determine how difficult a project will be to stitch.

  • The number of colors.  Often, the more colors there are on a canvas the trickier it will be to stitch.  This is especially true with photo needlepoint canvas designs.  The shadowing and gradients get harder to see the more colors there are.  Also the thread colors get very close, so even they get hard to tell apart.  When stitched this looks amazing, but a beginner stitcher may find this very tedious.  Typically I recommend keeping the number of colors below 20 if possible.  If you are using the website and want help, feel free to email us, we’d be happy to help!
  • The nature of the design.  If you are using a photo there is often a lot of intricacy in the placement of the stitches.  Easier canvases will group the colors together in larger blocks, so the stitcher does not need to change thread every third stitch.  Designs and artwork with plain colors and patterns often are the easiest to stitch as the contrast between the colors is big and the patterns are simple to follow.  The dog needlepoint designs we have on our website range from moderate to difficult, the new stitcher can do a moderate design, but it will take them a while.  The original artist needlepoint designs we have licensed are easy to moderate, mostly they go in the easy category.  And our baby and kids designs all are also in the easy realm.
Carrots of Many Colors 25 colors vs 11 colors

Carrots of Many Colors 25 colors on left vs 11 colors on right.  Notice the white carrots loose detail.  Not a very big difference to the eye, but to the stitcher 25 colors would be significantly harder.

If you decide to reduce the number of colors, but notice something that you would like adjusted, go ahead and place your order and email us the image you used, we can touch up the design for you!

Photo To Needlepoint Stitched!

Check out the photo needlepoint canvas that one of our customers just finished!

This was done on 18 mesh, and the detail is amazing.  She used a stitch counted canvas, and you can see why I think our photo to needlepoint process really is the best way to stitch a photo.

That said, really it is the stitcher who should be congratulated for her work.  Nice work MJ!!!

(Click this link in case you missed the blog discussing the photo vs stitch counted needlepoint canvases)

photo to needlepoint portrait

The traveling group photo is below, and the finished needlepoint photo portrait is above, Amazing!