So What Is Needlepoint, Anyway?
Needlepoint dates back hundreds of years and is a traditional art form of counted embroidery worked with a threaded needle to stitch a design over the threads of a canvas.
The general term used for handcrafted sewn works of art is “Needlework”; however, the term “Needlepoint” refers specifically to stitches worked on stiff, open grid canvas.
Often wool, silk or cotton yarn is used to achieve the effect of a totally new piece of fabric. The needlepointer uses the various brightly colored yarns to make stitches on a pattern drawn or printed on the canvas that create a beautiful full design.
Needlepoint, a form of counted thread embroidery, differs from other types of embroidery in that it is not used to delicately decorate a soft fabric using an embroidery hoop.
Instead, needlepoint stitches are very sturdy, worked on canvas, and create their own new piece of decorative stiff fabric which can be used to upholster furniture, or to create decorative pillow tops, glasses cases, Christmas ornaments, and purses.
History Of Needlepoint
Needlepoint dates back thousands of years to the time of the Egyptians. During this time period, small, slanted stitches were used to hold their tents together. Needlepoint has actually been uncovered by archeologists as they explore Egyptian ruins.
During the 16th century, the craft of needlepoint, the oldest known form of canvas work, used those very same simple tent stitches created by the ancient Egyptians.
This was a very popular domesticated art form whereby the needlepointer used various colors of yarn with this one type of stitch, known as the tent stitch, to create the beautiful designs.
In the 17th century, needlepoint was most often used to upholster furniture, which was just becoming fashionable. In order to use needlepoint for this purpose, very strong and durable material was developed to be stitched upon to create beautiful and unique embroidered upholstery fabric.
When needlepoint was brought to the American colonies in the 1700's, mothers often used this technique to teach and prepare their young daughters to sew clothing.
Now needlepointers are not relegated to simply using wool yarn. The thread that is used for stitching may be a combination of cotton, wool or silk, and one might even find ribbon, beads, and metallic threads incorporated into the designs.
Needlepointers often use canvas with preprinted designs, but it is also possible to create one's own unique design on plain open weave canvas. This takes artistic talent, and we would suggest starting with a preprinted design.
There are many needlepoint kits available, and their instructions usually suggest the use of the tent stitch, or one of the various forms of this stitch. However, other common stitches involved in needlepoint are the Victorian cross stitch and the random long stitch.
Seasoned needlepointers can find a plethora of stitches to be used in the many needlepoint books available today.
Look at the links below to find a link to a book teaching many different needlepoint stitches as well as links on our site on the needlepoint basics, canvases, blocking, and care of finished needlepoint work.