Posts Tagged ‘charted needlework design’

A Savonnerie Style Rug

open house miniatures needlework carpet lucinda pink - computer generated

Computer generated image to give idea of colours. 

Once upon a time… and it does seem a long time ago now – I wrote a blog post called To Sew or Not to Sew about a needlework carpet design that I had created from one of my printed carpet patterns.

Well, I did finish the carpet… eventually… and I thought that it looked very, very good and much nicer than the picture at the top of this blog post, but it is not a symmetrical pattern and it does take ages and ages and ages and ages and then some to embroider, so I filed it away in my (ahem) not very good filing system as something that needed thinking about and simplifying (a lot).

However, there seem to be a few brave souls out there who would actually like to try working one of these and have asked if I will share the pattern.

Now the problem that I have at the moment is that, due to circumstances beyond my control, my computer is in storage (if I start to tell you why it is in storage I will not stop and I suspect that you will become terribly bored because this is not a blog about leaky showers and electrical wiring, although I suspect I could be quite entertaining about wallpaper paste…)

Anyway, the end result is that I have a list of things of things that I promised I would do and now can’t do because of heaps of other things that I must now do first.

Having said that, this morning I conducted a dawn raid on my computer, grabbed some files and am now sitting in front of the computer of a kind and generous friend and about to type a brief list which I hope will be helpful.

  • This is not an easy carpet to work – for one thing the design is not symmetrical
  • A frame is, in my opinion, essential
  • I had to put in the central guidelines in coloured cotton (I removed these after completing the carpet although some people work over them)
  • I had to be very careful not to get huge lumps of thread at the back (there are a lot of colours in a small space)
  • It helped to think of the project as “painting with thread” and not just working a charted design – that way I didn’t get too worried if I put a stitch in not exactly the right place…
  • I think, in order to get a good result, it is essential to start from the middle and work outwards
  • I would recommend picking a bit that looks easy to you and try a small test patch first – see how your thread and canvas work together
  • Be kind to yourself, if you are new to needlework, try working the outside brown border and see how you get on.

Here are my colour charts – if you want to work a symmetrical carpet, work the central motif and then pick the corner that you like best and work that round the outside (I’m sorry, I can’t do reverse patterns at the moment).

And here are the black and white ones that I made. They drove me distracted – but you may prefer working with this sort of chart and it would make working the carpet in a different colour-way easier if you use these (I’m sorry, I can’t do a set of charts in different colours at the moment).

You will need to find your own colours. I used embroidery thread on 22 point canvas and I used a thinner thread than I usually do. Threads vary and you will need to experiment to find what suits you.

Here is a screen grab of the colours that the computer programme suggested, as you can see there is quite a subtle mix, but


The colour blocks that look as though they are the same colour, are the same colour – this is where I combined all the very close shades into one colour that I liked.

Making up the carpet – (this sort of carpet was not usually fringed)

I can thoroughly recommend Janet Granger’s online tutorial on how to hem a miniature carpet.

I use a slightly different method and ideally I would like to make a slideshow how I finish mine, but I’m sorry to say that it is another one of those things that I will have to put of my To Do List.

Speaking of which, next on the list is –

  • Full Bilderbuch for Maria in Argentina

Well, I grabbed the file for that this morning, so all I need now is paper and glue and a printer and some time and space…

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I don’t host any advertising on this weblog.

If you see adverts then they were put there by WordPress, who have to make money in order to maintain this blog site.

By paying WordPress a small yearly fee I could arrange for there to be no advertisements on this weblog. I am too mean / poor to do this.

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Open House Miniatures - Rose and Forget-me-not needlework miniature cushion

The Great Tidy Up is still in progress, and I unearthed these cushions some time ago.

I been waiting (not very patiently) for a little bit of sunshine in order to photograph them because the chart really doesn’t show the design to advantage.

They are worked in wool on 22 count canvas and are backed with thick silk from an old shirt, and are roughly one and half inches square (3.8 cm)

(I just kept working the background until it was the size that looked right to me.)

They were a little bit fiddly to embroider, but I think that they repaid the effort.

Open House Miniatures - Rose and Forget-me-not miniature needlework chart

To enlarge the chart, just click on it.

This chart is rather lurid and bright because it makes the different colours easier to identify.

The original (Victorian) chart was rather faded and not at all easy to follow.

Later the same day…

I have just asked about colours for this pattern –

Well, in the cushions that I worked there are –

3 blues (dark blue, mid-blue and pale blue) – these are distinctly different shades.

Lemon yellow (for the centre of the forget-me-nots)

3 greens (dark green, mid-green, paler green) – the dark green and the mid green blend and the paler green is quite a bit paler.

And for the rose –

1 pale pink, 1 dusky pink, 1 deepish “rose” hue, 1 “rose” red

Just off-white for the background.

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I think it is fun to play with the colour combinations and make something that is entirely your own and right for your house.

For example, the design works well with a white to blush pink/apricot roses, pink to red forget-me-nots and bronze / green foliage.

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open house miniatures - geometric rose rug chart

If you are like me, you will need the full chart for this rug – otherwise something will go horribly wrong with the other corners.

It is here Geometric_Rose_OHM_20130116

The design is based on one taken from a Victorian sampler. It is a fairly simple to work and gives a satisfying result.

On 22 count canvas it should be about 6.4 x 4.5 inches (16.2 x 11.3 cm)

There are a few more (non-floral) geometric rug charts on the projects page  and I will continue to add different designs from time to time. (When I find my carpet samples I will also add some photos ! )

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I do have another reason for today’s post.

I have been thinking about what to do next and looking back at the instructions on how to put the paper theatre together, I came to the conclusion that –

  1. The writing was rather small on the screen
  2. I need a better way to combine text and photos – sometimes I wasn’t sure which photo belonged to which piece of text.
  3. (I am lazy,) I need to find a more efficient (easier) way to upload a large amount of information to WordPress

So I thought I would experiment with a slideshow on Slideshare.

This is #3 and I think it is still far from perfect but, if you would like to know how I charted this design, you may find it interesting.

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While I was tidying up my bookcase I found one of my old notebooks

OPen House Miniatures - Elizabeth Plain notebook 2002

As you can see from the photo, I used to sit down with a limited number of coloured pencils and chart designs for (among other things) miniature carpets.

The design above worked out very well done in 1 ply Appleton’s wool on 22 point Aida cloth – and if I could find the carpet I would photograph it.

(Don’t ever move house in a rush – you will never find anything again)

Also hidden on the bookshelf was a CD for the Royal School of Needlework’s Definitive Guide to Cross Stitch and Tapestry, and I have vivid memories of trying very hard to compose a chart on a computer screen, instead of on a piece of paper.

Basically, the software on the CD does two things –

  • Either gives you an, on-screen, charted area on which to design a piece of needlework
  • Or allows you to import an image, and then turn that in to a needlework chart

This sounds nice and easy, BUT unless you understand how many pixels are in the average image on-screen, you are going to get very, very frustrated, very, very quickly, if you want to use software like this to import designs and work in miniature.

Well it rained all weekend, and I had a cold, and it so it was maybe not the best time to put the CD in the computer and try again –

However…  here is a High Victorian, Berlin Wool Work Style rose that I designed on paper and then “pixel painted” in to Paint Shop Pro

Open House Miniatures - pixel rose

Each little square of colour = 1 pixel.

If I import this very small and simple design into the RSN programme, and then save the chart, it will look like this –

Open House Miniatures - Royal School of Needlework Charted Roase

and, on 22 count fabric, this will work to a finished size of about 1 and 1/2 inches (3.8cm)

However, what I would like to work from is something that looks like this –

Open House Miniatures - Charted needlework rose

and I have not been able, so far, to coax the RSN software into saving a chart that looks like this, which is a shame.

Moving on to something more complicated (and I really should have known better!) I wondered what would happen if I wanted to turn one of my printed carpet designs…

Open House Miniatures - printed carpet - Lucinda (pink)

into a chart…

Open House Miniatures - screen shot of needlework carpet design

To be fair, there is a very easy to use wizard that walks you through the process of importing and setting up an image to chart and, after about 4 hours, I had a 7″ x 10″ carpet (on 22 point canvas) which used a mere 46 colours !

Another couple of hours work and I had reduced the colours to 14 and tidied up the design so that it looked almost workable, apart from the central motif, which would not be out-of-place in a needlework portrait, but is probably a bit excessivly detailed for a miniature carpet.

Open House Miniatures - Centre of chart for Lucinda (pink) needlework carpet

Now what you see on screen is not necessarily a true-to-life-colour, so I sorted out the colours that would be needed and then I changed the, software-seclected, light bluish pink to one that had a slightly warmer tone.

Open House Miniatures - needlework design Anchor thread colours

Then, of course, I had to see how hard the central motif was to work.

90 minutes (or one football match) later I had achieved…

Open House Miniatures - Needlework anchor thread on 22 count Aida

Now I have to make a decision – do I work some more, or do I (sensibly) stop now ?

Afterword –

Although I am not very comfortable using the RSN software, it does have its useful points (and some ready charted motifs and alphabets that can be inserted into your own designs) and I can imagine that if you are working “full-size” that it could be a very useful tool.

It is not designed to make working in miniature “easy” – but then I don’t think anything is !

Another thing –

Most miniature needlework kits use mono canvas, not Aida.

I use Aida because it works best for me, and I usually use wool for miniature carpets as it does not have the bright reflective surface of cotton, or silk, embroidery thread and so, to me, it looks more “real”.

If you are looking for miniature needlework kits, I can recommend the work of –

Janet Granger

Nicola Mascal

Janet Oliver


UPDATE 21st January 2015

The charts for the Savonnerie Style Rug are now available from the Projects Page.

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