Monday, August 4, 2014

Roses Redux and Colorful 4-ways – Recent Questions


I loved the “Big Bouquet of Roses” post, but I wonder why you haven't done a picture of a red rose? They are my favorites.

Preliminary sketch for red rose needlepoint
Preliminary sketch for red rose needlepoint
I'm so glad you enjoyed the post (July 7, 2014). I have indeed made a red rose. Our jewelry-maker gave me some leftover yarn that was variegated in red-violet, red, and red-orange. I wondered if I could make a realistic rose using only those three colors. I also had some variegated green yarn left over from a past project. I cut the variegated reds into separate pieces so I could control exactly where they appeared on the rose, but I used the variegated greens just as they came off the skein to make the leaves. As usual, I started with a sample on plastic canvas. I had just completed the rose and leaves on a white background when a dear friend arrived for a visit. She loved the sample and said that she had just the place for it on a wall at home. So J.D. framed it for her in a simple black frame. She has written that it has “place of honor” on her wall.

Finished red rose needlepoint
Finished red rose needlepoint
I was happy with the sample experiment, so I traced my original sketch onto needlepoint canvas. Because the mesh was so much smaller, I needed to split the yarn and use three strands instead of four. I rearranged the leaves and added a partially opened bud. This time I used a black background. Unfortunately, I was far from done when the time came to post the “Big Bouquet of Roses” post, so the red rose was not on it. It is now completed. J.D. matted it with a burgundy mat that matches the deepest tones in the rose and framed it under glass in a gold frame. We showed it at an outdoor event last weekend. In the sunlight, it really glows! Here is “Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose”, before framing, so that you can see the detail. Enjoy your red rose.


You made a comment some time ago that I don't understand. It was about color schemes completely changing the way a four-way bargello looks. I can see that they make a difference, but not how it could be that big a difference. Can you show me what you meant?

"Midwinter Blues" Four-way bargello needlepoint
"Midwinter Blues" Four-way bargello needlepoint
Traditional four-way bargello starts with a pattern worked identically in each of the four corners of the canvas. Usually the baseline of the pattern is laid in a small distance from the center of the canvas and is then worked in rows of stitches of (mostly) equal length outwards to the edges of the canvas. Shorter stitches are needed along the diagonals. The pattern may be worked inwards toward the center of the canvas in the same way (see the July 20, 2014 post), using partial stitches where necessary. Or the center can be worked all in one color and perhaps in a different filling stitch. The outer edges and corners can also be worked in a solid-color filling stitch, leaving the pattern as a medallion shape in the center.

Four-way bargello sampler with broken spirals
Four-way bargello sampler with broken spirals
Color schemes may vary from closely related shades of the same color (pink, rose, burgundy), to closely related colors (red, red-orange, orange), to contrasting or complementary colors (black/white, red/green, blue/orange), to the whole color spectrum. The same basic pattern can be worked in all of these ways, producing a series of vastly different effects ranging from subtle to “WOW!” For example, this is the same pattern I used to make Midwinter Blues(see above) worked in red-orange, yellow-green, blue-green and blue-violet, with the colors of the pattern rotating 90 degrees each time. We no longer have diamond shapes, but rather broken spirals.

Four-way bargello sampler with 'fantasy chessboard'
Four-way bargello sampler with 'fantasy chessboard'
Here's another swatch worked in the same stitch pattern, but with only two colors, which alternate for each row. This effect reminded me of a chessboard, so I back-stitched it in gold. If I ever do it full-sized, I'll present it as a fantasy chessboard. While it is not as extreme as the sample above, it certainly differs from “Midwinter Blues”. I could do any number of additional examples. As we explore more complex patterns, I'll try to show alternate color schemes for at least some of them so that you can see a range of possibilities.

Vintage four-way bargello pillow
Vintage four-way bargello pillow
This is another argument for doing sample “swatches” on plastic canvas. Colors that look good together when you are holding skeins next to each other do not always work as well together in a pattern. Some may turn out to be too strong for the pattern, while others are too weak. In addition, effects change – sometimes greatly – as a centered pattern expands outward toward the edges of the canvas. A good example of that is this vintage pillow I made in the 1970's. See how much more complex the pattern becomes? Note how a solid-color border contains and emphasizes the pattern. Don't be afraid to experiment and to discard patterns and/or colors that don't please you. (This is much easier to do with a small plastic sample than with a project on needlepoint canvas!)

I'm always glad to answer questions, particularly ones that help me make or clarify a point. Keep those questions coming!






Finished and framed needlepoint "Love is Like a Red, Red Rose"
Finished and framed needlepoint "Love is Like a Red, Red Rose"


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