Gay Ann Rogers Needlework

Lessons for Beginners






My World of Needlework


Lessons for Beginners


Four years ago I wrote a series of Lessons for Beginners; now I find I've changed my mind a bit and in my lead-up to Catherine the Great, I'm rewriting the lessons a bit.


The most current lesson is on Queendom Website's Home Page and on this page.


You will find links to the former lessons below.

For Beginning Needlepoint Students, here is a reworking of my series from the past.

Lesson 1 Necessary Supplies

Here are the very essential supplies. As you progress, you will find all kinds of fun tools and aids, but these are the most basic supplies.


Lesson #1: Necessary Supplies


Needlepoint Canvas


Cloth for Needlepoint is called ‘canvas’.

Canvas is woven of stiff threads that are

spaced apart so that you can see holes

between the threads. When you stitch,

you will decorate the canvas with thread

by coming up in one hole, across one or

more canvas threads and down in another



Helpful to Know: Warp and Weft

As with all cloth, the vertical threads are

called ‘warp threads’, the horizontal threads

called ‘weft threads’.


Canvas is an Evenweave Cloth

When you look at a piece of needlepoint canvas, you will see that the warp threads and the weft

threads are essentially the same size and shape and the spacing between the warp threads is the same as the spacing between the weft threads. This is called ‘evenweave’ cloth.


Canvas comes in different sizes

The size of canvas is determined by the number of canvas threads per inch, for example ’18 count canvas’ has 18 linear threads per inch. If you measure from the left edge of the canvas to the right edge and you count the number of threads in one inch, you will have 18. Remember, canvas is evenweave, so if you measure from the top of the canvas to the bottom and you count the number of threads in one inch, again you will have 18.


Because you stitch across canvas threads with threads, I find the terminology can be confusing. When I write instructions I refer to the canvas threads as 'meshes' to distinguish easily between the canvas and the strands of thread.


Let’s begin with a square of 18 mesh canvas cut 8” x 8”.



Needles for Needlepoint


Needles for Needlepoint are called ‘Tapestry Needles’.


Tapestry needles have a blunt, not a sharp, tip.

The tips are blunt because you will not be piercing cloth;  you will be coming up and going down in holes.  If a needlepoint needle had a sharp point, you

might catch the side of the canvas mesh

instead of going down or coming up cleanly through a



Needles for Needlepoint are called ‘Tapestry Needles’.


Tapestry Needles come in different sizes. Common

sizes are 18 which is very large (well, ‘large’ when

referring to a needle is indeed relative) to 28 which is very small.


A good basic needle for 18-mesh canvas is a size 22 tapestry needle.




Threads for Needlepoint


Threads comes in a magical almost endless number of textures and colors and eventually you will dabble with many of them. For most stitchers, the variety of colors and textures is one of the great delights of needlepoint.


To start we will use

one very basic thread:

Pearl Cotton


Most people start

stitching with wool,

but I would prefer to

start with Pearl Cotton

because it shows each

stitch so clearly and

I can see the evolution

of the pattern the thread

creates more easily.


Pearl cotton comes in a number of sizes: #5 pearl cotton, #8 pearl cotton and #12 pearl cotton.

#5 is fatter than #8; #8 is fatter than #12.


A suitable size for 18 mesh canvas is #5 pearl cotton.




Scissors for Stitching


Embroidery scissors are small (usually about 2.5” to 4.5”

long), with narrow sharp blades.

Scissors vary in quality and price and usually the price

reflects the quality, but not always.


My current favorites are Gingher and Dovo scissors (these

are brand names) and tiny Bohin scissors (on the right)

only about 2.5”. The tiny Bohin scissors are a good bargain

at about $18.00 retail.


When I choose a pair of scissors, I look at the blades to make

certain they meet well and the tips to make certain they come

to sharp points.


I would recommend right from the start  a good pair of

scissors and handle them with care. Above all, don't use

embroidery scissors to cut paper, for paper dulls the blades.