Tips and Tricks

  • NJNA Website and Blogging – reading, commenting, posting, including photos
  • Making a Project Safe
    • Protect your work, especially when traveling.
    • These instructions were provided by an ANG member with modifications by NJNA members.  There are also instructions in an issue of Needlepointers that are very similar.
      Screenshot 2018-07-03 19.29.21
  • 10 minutes a day: You’d be amazed how much progress you can make on a project by doing just 10 minutes, 12 stitches, or one strand a day.  Start small and watch progress!
  • Stitching Glasses: Because the distance from our eyes to where we hold the canvas is different than for reading materials, especially when working on higher count fabrics, your regular glasses may not meet your stitching needs. Mention it to your ophthalmologist or optician and get a separate pair of stitching glasses which have a different bifocal – you’ll be amazed at how much you appreciate them.
  • Taking Photos of your work
  • Choosing Threads and Yards to Make a Design Your Own by Pat Mazu
  • Making Perle Cotton by Linda Reinmiller
  • Needle Necessities Thread Conversions
  • Choosing the Right Needle
  • Using Rayon Thread
    1. Use a shorter length. As stitchers we tend to want to use the longest length we can, so we don’t have to end threads, thread the needle, etc. But in this case it really helps – 18″ is about the maximum to use.
    2. Keep a shallow bowl of water beside you, cut the rayon, put the whole length in the water, then run your fingers down it to remove excess water. Stitch with it wet; the water gives it a little more weight. As it dries it tightens to the canvas. Alternatively, use a damp washcloth or a damp paper towel and just pull the thread through it. It is amazing how much better it behaves after you do this.
    3. Use a small curling iron to iron your thread to remove the kinks.
    4. Use a laying tool. This makes the rayon lay flat.
    5. Keep equal pressure on both sides of the stitch. Hold the rayon tight under the canvas as you bring the needle up, and over the canvas as you bring the needle down.
    6. Use a longer tail, to make sure the beginning and ending of each thread is secure. Run under stitches in a couple of different directions just to make sure it’s good and tight. When you backstitch be sure to pierce the ribbon… it makes it extra secure.
  • Laying Tools
  • Rotate your projects
  • Storing Kreinik and Trebizond Threads
  • Canvas Selvage to the left: As with all material, the selvage is the side of the material as it is woven. To keep the grain of the piece correct and prevent the fabric from stretching, place the selvage on the side. If you always start with the selvage on your left, you will know where the top of your piece is. This can be important when you are working on a design that you rotate to work on.
  • Smooth your hands: Wet your hands, then sprinkle some salt or sugar on and rub your hands together especially the fingers; your hands will be smooth.  Add a bit of lotion afterwards. It works like a charm to remove the roughness when you do it once a day.
  • Drawn Work Terms
  • Rule of Five: The “Rule of Five” specifies you should choose your threads, colors and stitches according to the following “formula” —
    • You use one color (all the shades of this color count as the “one” color, and Black and White do NOT count as colors), perhaps three types of thread – e.g., stranded, metalic, round (perle), wool, or flat, and no more than five different stitches. The formula can be changed e.g., one thread, three stitches, five colors, or one stitch, three colors, five threads, etc.
    • When this is followed, allegedly you eliminate the creation of an overly cluttered muddy result.
  • Needles
    • Needlepoint needles are also referred to as tapestry needles. The characteristics of a good needlepoint needle is that is has:
      • An elongated eye (for ease of threading)
      • A blunt point
      • A tapered body
    • Needlepoint needles range in size from 13 to 26. The higher the number, the finer the canvas mesh it is used on. A good guideline for the most common needles sizes is:
      • Size 16 – 8 mesh
      • Size 18 – 10-mesh
      • Size 20 – 12 to 14-mesh
      • Size 22 – 16 to 18-mesh
    • A good rule of thumb for the size of the needle is that the proper size needle will move easily through the canvas without catching and is also easy enough to thread because the eye is big enough to accommodate the fiber being used.
      • If you’re not sure what size needle you have, a size 16 usually is about 2 inches long and a size 24 is about 1.5 inches long. The length of the needle gradually decreases as the size increases.
  • Persian vs. Tapestry Wool
    • Persian wool (e.g., Paternayan) is composed of three strands of two-ply yarn that you can easily separate for use on various sizes of needlepoint canvas. Paternayan yarn has a “papa bear, mama bear, and baby bear” strand; each strand is of a somewhat different size.
    • Tapestry wool (Anchor, DMC) is a four-ply, non-divisible yarn.
  • Thread Inventory Spreadsheets
  • Choose the right yarn for any project
  • Finding a neutral grey fiber
  • Finishing Canvas Edges: In order to avoid catching threads on the raw canvas edges, there are several ways to finish them before you begin stitching:
    • Canvas tape – it does not stick or leave residue when removed. Easy to stick tacks through.  You can also use painter’s tape or masking tape.
    • Grosgrain or smooth ribbon – fold the ribbon over the edge and zigzag stitch it; it holds the tacks well and makes the canvas easier to stretch on the bars.
    • Frame cover – fabric cover that fits over your frame while still allowing you to stitch. You can make one using old ace bandages.

Note – site is in-progress; more tips and links to existing tips to be added soon!