Gay Ann Rogers Needlework

Needlepoint Lessons






Needlepoint Lessons of Mine: Ripping Ripping

The project I'm working on is a difficult one and I've spent hours so far stitching and ripping to get it where I want it to be. As a result, here are notes on why I rip rip rip.


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Summer Solstice, the design I blog-stitched in 2014. I just picked up my needle and started stitching and here is the result.

In the Summer of 2014 I blog-stitched a small geometric, that is, I documented each step of my progress with photos and explanations and posted them on Queendom Website. The design was a little geometric which I named 'Summer Solstice' in honor of the day I started.


The night before, I had laid out some threads in colors that seemed to me to reflect summertime, and early at first light on the morning of June 21,  I picked up my needle and started stitching. I had no drawing and no plan, I just started stitching.


If I didn't like what I was stitching, I ripped it out and did something else.


Small geometrics like Summer Solstice and fun, colorful and easy little design exercises and yes, I had to rip but not excessively, but several people wrote to me and said they were surprised at how I struggled.



I in turn was surprised by the comments, for in comparison to the design I'm doing right now,  Summer Solstice was a walk in the park on a bright and sunny day. In my mind, I didn't have to rip much at all. Not, at least in comparison to the amount of ripping I do on a difficult design. I've ripped and ripped and ripped parts of the design I'm working on now. I knew it would be difficult and it is.


Why Do I Rip So Much

I rip so much because it is the only way I can redo and refine design elements. Yes, I've sketched them out, yes I've chosen threads and colors, yes I've thought up stitches I want to use, but my plans don't necessarily work. There's a difference between a sketch on my iPad and the actual stitches, colors look one way in hanks and an entirely different way stitched in smaller or larger amounts, threads can look perfect in their skeins but are too bulky, too textured, too thin, too meh on the canvas.


In short, I have a picture in my mind of where I want to go and I rip and rip and rip until I get there.


It would seem, after all these years,  that I could envision the results, but the actual charm of stitching to me is that I can't. What happens is almost always a surprise and  that's the charm of it all for me. I often say that I, who am life's coward in most all ways, am a soldier of fortune in needlepoint. In needlepoint I like the danger.


Why I Have Written All of This

Today it is all too easy to pay attention to threads and stitches because that's your part of the process. Somebody else did the design, you chose it because you liked it and now you will stitch it, so all your attention goes to the actual stitching.


Yes,  you have a design in front of you, a place to start. But a start is all you have, and now it is your job to make the design the best you can make it. Don't do something just because the designer/teacher did it, do it because you imagine it will make the piece more wonderful. Practice envisioning in your mind what is good and keep asking yourself what would make it better. If you envision something that will make it better, try it. Yes, even if you have to rip it, try it.


That's what I do and why I rip so much. It is true, ripping a lot is aggravating, but it is also infinitely worthwhile: it makes the piece better and the experience more fulfilling.


DH has a favorite saying that sums it all up: 'The Better is the enemy of the Good'.