Dyed and Gone to Heaven – An Online Magazine and Needlework Resource  

Beginning Needlepoint (Part I)
Designed by Lois Caron

Each square represents one needlepoint stitch.

Design size on 13 count canvas is approximately 3.5" square.

Use three to four colors of your choice. The colors and threads we have used are listed under MATERIALS.


Watercolours -- 2 plies
Waterlilies -- 6 plies
Impressions -- 2 strands
Soie Cristale -- 6 plies
Snow -- 2 strands
Rachel -- 1 or 2 strands
Rachelette -- 1 strand
Doubledip Rachel - 1 strand
Antica -- 1 strand
Paternayan Persian -- 2 plies
DMC floss -- 6 plies
Medicis wool - 4 strands
#5 pearl cotton - 1 strand
45 x 45 stitches


8 x 8 piece of 13 mesh canvas. Try to find a piece that has a selvedge on one side.
Wildflowers, 006, Amethyst. Use three strands.
Impressions, 6026. Use 2 strands.
Watercolours, 051, Abalone. Use 2 plies.
Waterlilies, 134, Dawn. Use 6 plies.
#20 tapestry needle
4 artists stretcher bars 9 long, or needlepoint frame to fit canvas
thumbtacks, preferably the non-rust kind


Charts and Diagrams


Step 1. Continental Stitch. Symbol on Chart: O

With two plies of Watercolours, stitch the outermost square outline in Continental Stitch. This is the opposite of half-cross. Instead of working from left to right, you should work from right to left. Start with an away waste knot and begin stitching at the top right corner and work across the top, skipping seven stitches in the middle to allow for the diamond shape, then down the left side. Turn trhe canvas upside down to complete the bottom and the right side.

Step 2. Outlining with Diagonal Continental Stitch. Symbol on Chart:

With three strands of Wildflowers, start stitching the diamond shape at the top point. Work toward the left. Your stitches will look like backstitches in a cross stitch design. When you start doing the stitches on the descending side of the diamond, your stitches will look as if they are spaced too far apart. Don't worry. Subsequent rows will fill in the blank areas and the design will look alright. When you reach the bottom of the diamond, turn your canvas upside down to complete the other half of the diamond. Then return your canvas to its original position again.

Step 3. Continental Stitch. Symbol on Chart: V

With two strands of Impressions, stitch the inner square border line. Optional: if you want to see the difference between half cross and continental stitch, this would be a good place to practice. To do half cross, work your needlepoint stitches from the left top corner to the right. See Diagram 3 below.

Step 4. Outlinining an Irregular Shape. Symbol on Chart:

Stitch the outlines of the heart shaped petals of the flower with two plies of Watercolours. Separate all three plies and put two back together again. Save the extra ply to put with another "orphan".

It is easiest to start at the pointed end of one petal and stitch all around that petal, following the chart. You will need to decide when to hold the canvas upright and when to turn it upside down. Be sure never to turn the canvas one-quarter turn or your stitches will end up doing in opposite directions. Note how parts of the outline will look smooth and others jagged.

Step 5. Multiple Rows of Continental Stitch. Symbol on Chart: blank

Fill in the narrow border created by the two single lines you've already stitched. Use six plies of Waterlilies and work the Continental Stitch. "Strip" the Waterlilies just as you would floss. Separate all the plies and put six of them back together smoothly. Start at the upper right corner and work across the row until you meet the diamond outline. to stitch the next row, turn your canvas upside down, referring to the master chart for placement. Never turn the canvas only one-quarter turn. This will result in stitches that face at angles to one another.

If you have chosen to work with a variegated thread that has a lot of contrast in color, you will find that continental stitch forms stripes of color. Unless you wish to achieve this effect intentionally, for a sunset or water for instance, this stitch is not a good choice to use for large areas of needlepoint when stitching with multi-colored threads.

We will include a more complete discussion of the merits of half-cross, continental and basketweave stitches at the end of Part II.

We will continue this lesson next month, learning how to do basketweave in nearly any situation.


1. This design may be stitched on other sizes of canvas, but 13 or 14 is the easiest to work with if you are a beginner.

2. Before starting the stitching, mark the center of the canvas. Then mount it on a frame with thumbtacks. Artists stretcher bars, available in most art stores, or special lightweight frames made for needlework, or roller frames, are all suitable. Hoops do not work well since the canvas is stiffened with sizing and is not flexible like fabric. Keep the canvas taut.

3. Mark the TOP of your canvas with a permanent marker. It is important to keep your canvas upright unless otherwise directed to ensure that your stitches will always face in the same direction. If you have a piece of canvas with a selvedge, be sure that it is on the left when you mark the top. You will see the importance of this in Part II when we discuss basketweave.

4. On the stitched model,illustrated here, not all of the background in the diamond shape has been stitched. See Part II, Section 6 for an explanation.

4. This same design can also be used to practice decorative stitches once you have mastered the basics of needlepoint.

5. IMPORTANT! The symbols on the master chart represent different steps of working the design, not different colors or threads. You may choose whatever threads or colors you wish for each part of the design. The Materials list above indicates what we have used in the model. In the Instructions which follow, we will tell you which thread we have used in our model for each step.

© 1999 The Caron Collection / Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com