Small Space Sunday

I always smile when stitch books and blogs preach there are no rules in needlepoint.  Technically, they are correct.  I appreciated the guideposts provided by teachers and other resources over the years, especially as I relearned the craft in the 1990's as decorative stitches and fiber choices exploded.    

One of those guiding principles is plain needlepoint belongs in every piece.  It brings balance, helps define the focal area, enhances shading, and is a nod to tradition.  I always use plain needlepoint for human faces, hands, eyes, most animal faces, and most lettering.  If there is a beautifully shaded leaf in my project, I often use plain needlepoint to enhance that leaf, despite the fact there are fantastic leaf stitches out there.  Often, plain needlepoint is the first solution stitchers consider for small spaces.

The good news is plain needlepoint is not the only answer for small spaces as there are interesting small space stitches available.  Combine them with today's array of fibers and you have a wide palette to choose from for your smallest spaces.

I am thrilled to introduce #smallspacesunday where I will share my go-to small space stitches as well as new small space discoveries.  I can't promise it will be every Sunday.  But I promise they will be good.

My first #smallspacesunday stitch is Encroaching Gobelin.  This extremely simple stitch is virtually identical to plain needlepoint but you as you go across one row but up two rows.  

Compensation is also very easy as you don't compensate when you reach the top or bottom.  It is also one of the few stitches I don't cringe when doing in the opposite direction, especially on birds, as the alternating direction adds to the dimension this stitch provides.  (Personally, I am a stickler for needlepoint going from lower left corner to upper right corner in an intersection...but that's just me.)

In smaller spaces, this stitch is fantastic for Santa bags, birds, grass, clothing (such as sleeves or shoes), leaves, tree bark, hats.  The possibilities are endless.  Unlike other small space stitches, Encroaching Gobelin works well in larger areas such as grass, ground cover, and/or animal bodies (especially birds, dogs, and cats).  It helps balance a piece, aids in defining the focal point, and adds to the diversity of stitches in an understated way.  Generally speaking, I don't recommend using this stitch on a focal point as the stitch is too subtle.

This stitch is uniquely suited to overdyed threads, especially on grass and ground cover as the various hues work well together to give the space dimension while not overpowering it with a complicated decorative stitch.  Shading is enhanced with Encroaching Gobelin as the subsequent rows are embedded in rows above,  which translates to a subtle transition between colors.  

This stitch diagram, along with other #whimsicalwednesday and future #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.  Eight guides are currently available and more are in the pipeline.

I hope you enjoy the first #smallspacesunday.  Thank you for stopping by!