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 #8  Ripping

Oops, I made a mistake, what do I do?

Lesson #8  Ripping


How To Rip Out a Mistake

With very good scissors, I start on the backside of my work and carefully slip one tiny point of the scissors under the thread and snip, a tiny bit at a time. Snip snip snip snip, then I take my finger and rub it back and forth across the small cut area. This seems to loosen the threads a bit.

On the front of my work I repeat, snip snip snip a tiny area and rub the stitches again. When I have a small area cut and loosened, I take an embroidery needle (a sharp needle) and lift the cut stitches to see if they will come out.


I repeat this until I have removed the threads of the mistake.



A Couple of Potential Ripping Pitfalls

The trick is to cut the threads and not the canvas meshes, that’s why I snip carefully a very small area at a time and why I try to loosen the threads and lift them away from the canvas.


I find if I get the scissors blade under the threads and then tilt the blade slightly up before I snip, I avoid cutting canvas threads as frequently as I otherwise might.


If you need to remove a small area but not the total area, withdraw stitch by stitch enough thread so that you have a tail to keep the remaining stitches from unraveling. If you can’t create a tail, you have to keep removing stitches until you do have one.


 I almost always anchor this new tail with a sharp needle only after I have removed the mistake in total. Remember, you need to keep the new tail out of the way of your scissors until the job is complete.



One Ripping Nightmare and How You Might Avoid It

Let’s set up a short and simple description of Ripping Nightmare.


You have three small areas, each with a different stitch, thread and pattern.

 You begin filling in Area A and you stitch stitch stitch, etc.

You then start Areas B and C by anchoring the threads through the back of Area A.

Unhappily you then find a mistake and have to rip out Area A.


Do you see that you have set up a chain reaction? Even though Areas B and C are fine, chances are good that you have to remove them too because they are intertwined with Area A.


You can avoid some of this potential chain reaction if you take the simple precaution of keeping each area isolated by beginning and ending threads under its own stitches as often as possible.



Cutting and Repairing Canvas Meshes

Try as you will, it is inevitable that you will cut a canvas mesh or two at some point. It is groan-worthy but you can repair the cut canvas mesh(es).


Repairing canvas meshes entails ripping away enough of the stitched area so that you have canvas exposed on each side of the cut, say from A to B as illustrated below.


To repair the cut mesh, remove a single canvas mesh from the edge of your canvas and reweave it following the weaving pattern of the cut mesh: over and under, over and under, exactly as the cut mesh was woven. The new mesh and the cut mesh will lie side by side and you will treat them as a single mesh.


To repair a second cut mesh, reweave from C to D the same way.












If you have cut a horizontal mesh, as illustrated on the graph above, you will need to use a weft canvas thread to repair it;

If you have cut a vertical mesh, you will need to use a warp thread to repair it.


Once you have repaired the cut mesh(es), replace the stitching. As I said above, you will treat the cut mesh and the new mesh as a single thread. To make your tension consistent with stitches over a single mesh, pull a bit tighter over the double meshes.



A Word about Scissors

If you decide you like needlepoint, one of your first purchases should be a good pair of scissors.

Good scissors cost a pretty penny these days, but they are well worth the investment, for they allow you to work much more precisely. The blades of good scissors are long and narrow yet sturdy, the points very sharp.


My favorite scissors are Dovos and Ginghers and well worth the investment, never more so than when you face a large and tedious ripping session.



Questionable Habits

Patience isn’t my strong suit and never does my impatience show up more than in ripping out my mistakes. I just want it over.


Not a good trait, for being in a hurry is a guarantee to creating all sorts of misjudgments, mistakes and nightmares. As a needlework teacher, my advice is, take a deep breath and work slowly.


I wish I could learn this for myself but I never do, and here’s perhaps a questionable habit that works well for me. To rip I often use a little seam ripper. I like the Bohin ones distributed to needlework shops by Access Commodities and I keep them everywhere.


Please note that seam rippers can be very dangerous, as it is very easy to cut canvas meshes with them, but if you like to live a bit on the edge of danger, they cut ripping time in half. At least in half. Over time I have learned to scoop up a few threads and tilt up the ripper and this does eliminate some of the danger.


I wonder if I should be writing about seam rippers, but then what is life without some questionable habits.