Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bokhara patterned cushion -- 1:12 scale needlepoint chart

Before I got into this cosetta nostra, this tiny thing of ours, I had always wanted to do needlepoint and never had, mostly because I didn't have a needlepointing mother or grandmother to teach me.  My grandma taught me to roast a chicken and make incredible oatmeal cookies and my mum taught me how to operate a Bunsen burner and make bread, but my life was void of needlepoint.

One of the reasons I wanted to do needlepoint was because one of my favourite characters (Georgie Pillson) in one of my favourite series of books (the Lucia and Mapp novels by E.F. Benson) is always working on some frustrating bit of petit point and I loved Georgie so I wanted to be just like him :)

Getting into the dolls' house hobby was a great excuse for learning the basics of needlepoint, especially since we were starting with a castle which clearly needed tapestries!

I taught myself from diagrams and YouTube videos, although I've never seen a diagram that really makes sense of basketweave stitch!  I had to puzzle over that one quite a bit before I got the hang of it. (Basketweave stitch is great for covering large areas of background without pulling the needlepoint out of shape).

I was learning needlepoint with the Knitwits, of course, but most of the Knitwit girls started with a big advantage: their mother.  She's an extraordinarily talented needlewoman, whose work is practically perfect, front or back.  The girls definitely take after her :)

My own work isn't flawless, it certainly isn't the same on the back as it is on the front, and it's not going to win any prizes anywhere, but I now find it incredibly enjoyable, relaxing and satisfying to stitch pieces in 1:1 scale as well as 1:12 scale, and I do get better with practice!

If you've never done needlepoint but would like to try, a small project like a cushion is one of the very best ways to get started.  It's very, very easy, and something like 22 ct canvas (that's 22 stitches per inch) is small enough to get some detail in your work, but not so small it will drive you crazy with the tiny stitches!

You only need to master one stitch to start: the continental stitch or tent stitch.  When you've got that, go and work out the basketweave stitch and you're all set!

(Maybe we should have a needlepoint tutorial?  I know there are a lot of stitchers out there, and I'd love it if some of us put our heads together and came up with a really simple way of explaining the craft to others. If you know of good links to resources or videos for beginnings, maybe you could suggest them in the comments, below?)

With that in mind, here's an early Christmas present for those of you who do petit point in 1:12 scale, or who would like to try!

I've always loved Bokhara patterned rugs and cushions, and in the course of stitching some for the dolls' house came up with this one of my own.

This stitches up very quickly on 22 ct canvas and only uses five colours of cotton floss.  As always, you can vary the colours, although these warm tones are very traditional.

Here's a link to a jpg file of the whole chart.

Please make as many as you like for yourself or for gifts, but not for commercial purposes without asking me first :)


  1. Nina You are making some gorgeous Art work! I am stunned! Wow!

  2. Janet Granger from the UK has great tutorials and supplies on her website for needlepoint: Then there is also the Petit pointer group on Yahoo that I am part of,everyone whether novice or experienced is welcome in the group.

  3. Thanks so much, Kikka!

    Elga, I love Granger's kits -- they were a big help when I got started. That's a super link. And I'm going to check out the Yahoo group right now!

  4. Here's the link to the Petitpointers group on Yahoo: Thanks again, Elga, for pointing us (heh heh heh) in that direction ...

  5. Thank you for this great post. I have been wanting to try needlepoint. I have all the supplies but haven't taken the leap. This post has inspired me. I would love to see some tutorials.

  6. Big pleasure Nina, enjoy the group, they are a very friendly helpful bunch of people. On the 10th of each month the PP's (petitpointers) post progress pics of ongoing projects so be prepared for the onslaught ;-)

  7. I love the bhokara designs :). Thank you for this pattern, Nina!

  8. Heather: sometimes you just need to plunge in :) The basic stitch, the continental or tent stitch, is easy to learn. Here's a pretty good (if very US-geography-centric :) video:

    Sans: I love bokhara, too!

  9. The American Needlepoint Guild's website has a section (under Educational Opportunities) with beginner's projects. Although geared towards kids it has good information. ANG also does a Stitch of the Month program. You can find it under Needlepoint Information.

    Each month a new stitch is introduced. In the past there were 11 stitches a year and in December a project that used them all was unveiled but for the last 2-3 years, the project is a mystery one. In January you stitch the first stitch, then add to it each month and by December, you have finished the mystery project. All the old projects are there still. Of course you know how they turn out but it is a fun way to learn.

    When it comes to beginners, I like NP for Fun's information, and...

    I adore NP Now Magazine's tutorials. Start with Online Classroom, then go to Projects and Tips (in header).

    When it comes to basketweave, turn your canvas on its side and look at the diagonal rows you are doing. They are like a zipper, each row interlocking with the last. It helps get a smooth finish to not run thread tails along the diagonal but horizontally or vertically. If you are using too much thread for the size of the canvas, no matter how hard you try the basketweave will look cramped instead of smooth. If that's happening to you, try a slightly thinner thread.

    As for learning basketweave, it's not immediately apparently how this stitch is done. Hopefully this will help a bit but anyone can email me at chillyhollow at hotmail dotcom and I'll try to help further.

    Jane, your fellow NP addict, waving from Chilly Hollow

  10. Wow, Jane. That's such great information, I really appreciate your posting the links as well as your invaluable hints about basketweave. Thinking of it as a zipper is the best explanation I've ever seen. Must check out NP for Fun and NP Now!

  11. Glad to be of help. Don't forget to ask if you run into problems. I'll help all I can (having received lots of help myself over the years).

    Jane, waving from Chilly Hollow

  12. Off to check out your blog now, Jane! And thanks, again. My next challenge in needlework will be crewel, again because it's an art rooted in a period I'm passionate about, and because I love the end results.


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