Silly Squares

A very happy New Year to you and yours!  

I'm trying something a little different for you this month. #whimsicalwednesdays and #smallspacesunday posts for January will focus on variations of a common stitch, specifically square stitches.

The collection of diagrams for this month were curated from my personal favorite stitches, stitched pieces that inspire me (from my circle of needlepoint friends), and my go-to books.  Each post focuses on a specific size square and includes a small sampling of the stitch possibilities for that size square. These are just thought starters and I hope they help you create something magical!

The month begins with 4X4 squares.  A simple and elegant way to dress up 4X4's is to alternate the directions of the squares AND add contrasting threads, in the opposite direction, on top of the square.

The stitched sample on Instagram illustrates a tone on tone with a bright accent with similarly weighted threads.  However, don't let that or the width of the gray line in the diagram restrict you.  This is a great stitch when you add a light thread across the top.  Think Vineyard Silk on 13-mesh with an overlay of Kreinik Metallics Fine Braid #8.  

By alternating the squares and setting the corner stitches apart with a contrasting thread (color or finish), you begin to see whole new patterns that don't even look like squares, but are squares.

4X4 Square Corners.jpg

I call it the Corner Stitch because the eye is drawn to the unique corners.  You can take this one step further and add open space and more pronounced accents.

This version removes the single stitch corners, creating two open spaces.  One is shaped like a square and one is shaped like a triangle.   You can fill one or both with the same or contrasting stitches.  Personally, I like to fill only one as it creates a smoother design pattern, but it is a matter of personal taste and what the space requires.  Alternate filling stitches include Plain Needlepoint, Smyrna Cross, Beads, or French Knots (select list).  Mix and match to your heart's delight.

The next diagram splits the widest stitch in half.  This is a personal favorite as I like the subtle texture it adds.  It is a technique that works better with lighter colored threads, so the split stitch is more clearly visible.

The next diagram provides an open alternative.  It is an exact square but looks much softer than other square alternatives.

The above diagram is scalable as well and works especially well with even numbered squares, allowing the gray Upright Cross to be in the exact center of the stitch.

The last two diagrams are related.  I call them "Forgetful" Squares.  By "forgetting" to add the single stitch in each corner, a world of possibilities opens up.

When you start expanding the color palette, as you do in the larger version of Forgetful Squares, it can be downright clever and beautiful.  

The color inspiration for the pattern in the larger diagram is drawn from the stitched photo in the lower right hand corner of this collage on flickr.  I absolutely love the colors in the sample.  

I hope these diagrams prompt a lot of creative ideas for your next square stitch!

These stitch diagrams, along with other #whimsicalwednesday and #smallspacesunday stitch diagrams, can also be found on  

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If you like what you see on this blog, want to learn some very creative decorative stitches, and how to put them all together, sells stitch guides for seasonal Melissa Shirley designs.  20 guides are currently available and more are in the pipeline.