Threadventure 2018: Next stop - Big Sur!
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Hi there!

I’m soooo happy to see you again. Are you ready for the next stop on our Threadventure? Great! Jump on the Serendipity Express with me and we’ll ride our magical virtual vacation tour bus along the gorgeous California coast where flowering mountain meadows and majestic ocean views await us…


All aboard for Asheville!

And here we are… gee, that was quick!

Welcome to Big Sur and the beautiful California coast!


Have you ever been to Big Sur? Dubbed one of the most unforgettable stretches of coastline in the world, Big Sur is a 90-ish mile-long expanse of waterfront between Carmel-by-the-Sea and San Simeon. 

It’s, quite simply, an enchanting place. Spend the morning watching sea otters placidly floating among kelp beds, and then take a leisurely afternoon hike through flowering meadows or down to a secluded cove.

Over inside the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook group, I asked you to guess what we’ll be exploring in Big Sur.

If you guessed meadows – both grassy and flowering, then CONGRATULATIONS! You’re exactly right! ????????????

Grassy fields and flowering meadows can be a little bit daunting when it comes to choosing the best stitches and threads for your needlepoint projects.

Let’s take a look at some terrific stitches for grassy fields first…

Highway 1 runs along the rugged California coast through Big Sur.


California Highway 1, the only route through Big Sur, is a narrow two-lane section of highway that hugs the coastline. It’s flanked on one side by the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean on the other.  

Sprinkled in amongst rocky crags, every now and then you’ll come upon a grassy meadow like the one in the picture above.

Our first stitch, Open Woven Pattern, is really a darning pattern. 

It’s a terrific choice for grassy fields and meadows and it’s a simple stitch to execute. That means it’s a good option if you’re just trying your hand at using decorative stitches – or if you’ve been away from needlepoint for a while. Since it’s a smallish stitch, it doesn’t take up a lot of space so it’s a great option for small areas – or small canvases.  


This open woven stitch pattern is great for stitching grassy meadows on your needlepoint projects.


Since it’s an open stitch, it’s particularly nice for when you want to let the artist’s lovely shading show through on your painted canvas. It also suggests a wee bit of movement which makes it perfect for windblown grassy meadows. 

I’m using our old friend Encore! to work this stitch.

You can read more about Encore! in our visit to Asheville. Just click here to hop over and get all the details on this lovely over-dyed thread.

And be sure you check out the information about stranding thread in our visit to Seaside.

Moving right along, our second stitch is Hourglass Cross.

Hourglass Cross stitch has an interestingly subtle wavy look. It’s a medium size stitch, so it requires a bit of space to establish your pattern. Use it in medium to large sized areas on your needlepoint canvas.

It’s one of those stitches that is easier to understand when it’s broken down into steps, so there are two stitch diagrams for you below.

Pay close attention to the numbering on this stitch. You should work the bottom leg of each cross first, and then come back and work the top leg. Notice, too, how the stitches in each row stagger up and down across the row. Row one is shown in blue, row two in pink, etc.

This first diagram shows you how to work the large cross stitches.

Hourglass Cross is great for stitching grassy meadows on your needlepoint projects.

And this second diagram shows you how to add the tops and bottoms to the “hourglasses”. They’re those little green horizontal stitches. Pay close attention to the lettering system to ensure that you work your stitches in the correct order.

Hourglass Cross is great for stitching grassy meadows on your needlepoint projects.

I’m using Overture and Arctic Rays
 to work the Hourglass Cross stitch.

Overture, one of our “go-to” over-dyed threads, is making a repeat performance, so be sure and read all about it here

Arctic Rays, on the other hand, debuts today. I absolutely adore this thread! It’s super-fun to work with. 

Arctic Rays is a 100% nylon wispy fringe thread. What the heck is a wispy fringe thread? Great question! You see, the core thread has a chain construction – sort of like a crochet chain stitch. And there are oodles of little transparent wispy fringes shot through the core thread to create wild and wacky Arctic Rays. 

Arctic Rays comes in 22 glistening colors and each card holds 8 yards. It’s best for long stitches on 14 – 18 mesh needlepoint canvas; more of those cute little fringies can dance around on the surface of your canvas when you use long stitches.

A word of caution – use the stabbing method when using Arctic Rays and take extra care not to drag it across the surface of your canvas. It’s a wee bit on the delicate side. Gently, gently use a Bunka brush (or a soft child’s toothbrush) to fluff out Arctic Rays after your stitches are in place.

Use it “as is” off the card and cut short pieces (15″). You’ll also want to keep a needle threader handy since it’s hard to get Arctic Rays through the eye of your needle. I recommend treating the ends with Fray Check or a Thread Zap since it’s prone to unraveling.

Alrighty – now, let’s take a look at those flowering meadows in Big Sur…

Flowering meadows in Big Sur

I love wildflowers, don’t you? They’re so, so pretty – kinda’ like confetti sprinkled across the countryside.

Wildflowers sprinkled across meadows along the coastline in Big Sur


Our third stitch – and one that is quite effective for flowering meadows and fields – is Mosaic Checker stitch.

Work the blocks of tent stitch in leftward slanting diagonal rows first. Then, fill in the empty spaces by working the the right-slanting rows of mosaic stitch. Follow the numbers/letters on the diagram below to keep yourself straight. ????

Mosaic Checker is great for stitching flowering meadows on your needlepoint projects.

I’m using two threads
 to work the Mosaic Checker stitch.

Bravo! and Panache are both making a repeat appearance here. I’m using Bravo! to work the mosaic stitch pattern and Panache to work the tent stitch squares. Click here to read more about Bravo! And click here to read more about Panache.

Using over-dyed thread makes those mosaic stitches looks like little flowers scattered across a grassy meadow.

Our fourth stitch, Checkerboard Cross Stitch, is another super choice for lushly flowering meadows…

like the one in the picture below. Boy-oh-boy, wouldn’t it be fun to take your needlepoint down on the beach for a day of stitching under a big ol’ umbrella? Looks like paradise to me! ????

A beautiful flowering meadow in Big Sur along California Highway 1.

Checkerboard cross stitch has a lot of steps, but it’s easy to execute. It’s another smallish stitch, so it’s a good choice for small areas or small canvases. Work the upright crosses first, then come back and fill in with the standard cross stitches.

Just follow the diagram below and you’ll be golden! ????

Checkerboard cross stitch is great for stitching flowering meadows on your needlepoint canvases.

I’m using two threads
 to work the Checkerboard Cross stitch: Petite Very Velvet and Gold Rush 14 Variegated.

Petite Very Velvet is the baby sister to Very Velvet

It, too, comes in 87 solid colors and each card has a generous 15 yards. It’s a 100% nylon round velour thread, which is what makes it look like real velvet.

Petite Very Velvet is great for 14 – 18 mesh needlepoint canvas. It’s a really strong thread and it holds up quite well, so don’t hesitate to use it on a project that will get a lot of “love”.

Use Petite Very Velvet “as is” off the card, but use short pieces (no longer than 15″).  Now, let’s chat about Gold Rush 14 Variegated.

Gold Rush 14 threads are synthetic blends – 80% viscose/20% polyester metallic.

Each card holds 10 yards. Gold Rush 14 comes in 64 solid colors while Gold Rush 14 Variegated (which we’re using here) comes in 24 colors. There are some incredible greens in this line and that’s why I’m using it here. 

I recommend using it “as-is”, directly off the card. There’s no need to use a laying tool, but you do need to work with short lengths (15″ – 17″) since it’s prone to unraveling. Rainbow Gallery suggests snapping this thread apart instead of cutting it. I think that helps with the fraying issue a little bit – and anything that you can do to help prevent fraying is always a good thing, right?! 

The thread choices for this stitch are “reversible” which means that you can use either thread for either unit of the stitch. Choose one of the gorgeous greens in Gold Rush 14 Variegated for the grass and use a solid Petite Very Velvet in a bright color for the wildflowers. Or, reverse that and use one of the delicious grassy greens in Petite Very Velvet and then select a shimmering shade of Gold Rush 14 Variegated for magical flowers.

Our fifth (and final) “magnificent meadow” stitch is Tied Windmill stitch... 

Wildflowers at Big Sur


I like to use this stitch when I want to scatter little flowers across a field or meadow – or when I’m working a design that features a vase of flowers or, perhaps, a window box.

It’s a largish stitch, so you need plenty of space get the best results.  It, too, requires a lot of steps to complete a single unit, but the steps are not hard at all. Most importantly, just follow the diagram below and you should be fine.


Tied Windmill stitch is great for stitching flowering meadows on your needlepoint projects.


There are actually a couple of thread options for this versatile stitch.

Of course, you can use one of our favorite over-dyed threads from Rainbow Gallery – Bravo!, Encore!, or Overture for the entire stitch.

Or, you could work the arms of the “windmill” in Splendor and tie the stitch off with a cross stitch in Silk Lamé Braid 18.

And that, my friend, brings us to the end of our stay in splendiferous Big Sur.

It’s been so much fun to share stitches from the meadows along Highway 1 with you.

Sunset at Big Sur

Now, let’s hop on board the Serendipity Express and hit the road to our next Threadventure destination…

verdant Napa Valley!

Before you go, be sure and tell me what you think we’ll be exploring in Napa.

Please, please – don’t be shy… I love, Love, LOVE hearing from you and I read every single comment!

When you leave your thoughts down below in the comments box, I’ll enter your name into a drawing for a FREE 6 month membership in The Stitcher’s Club, too. Not sure what The Stitcher’s Club is? Click here to find out more.
Enrollment opens soon!

Until next time, happy stitching!
Stitch with a smile!



PS: I’ll share pictures of my stitched samples over on the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook page, inside the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook group and on Instagram, so be sure and follow me there. 😉


  1. Anne Ballard

    August 9, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Napa Valley should be wine. I will guess, however, that wine won’t be the focus. Can’t go wrong with that combination, now can I?

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 10, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      ????????????????????Nope – you absolutely can’t go wrong, Anne! ????
      Have a terrific weekend!
      Ellen ❤️

  2. karen Lowenthal

    August 9, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Napa valley bushes such as grape vines.

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 10, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Ding, ding, ding, ding… you’re CLOSE, Karen! ????❤️
      Thank you for taking the time to write in and have a wonderful weekend!
      Ellen ❤️

  3. El Mathias

    August 9, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Wine, vineyards, fruit

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 10, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Hi El!
      Thank you for sharing your ideas… and you’re very warm! ????
      Have a terrific weekend!
      Ellen ❤️

  4. Joanne

    August 11, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    Napa….grapes, grapes, vining, trunks, leaves maybe!

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 14, 2018 at 3:46 pm

      Hi Joanne!
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. ????
      You have some terrific ideas – and you’re very warm with one of them! ????
      I can hardly wait to “unveil” them on Thursday! Have a wonderful rest of your week and happy stitching!
      Ellen ❤️

  5. Joanne

    August 11, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    Trellises also?

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 14, 2018 at 3:51 pm


  6. Eleanor Bellantoni

    August 13, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I love your Big Sur stitches and threads. I never used gold rush before but I like how it looks. Going to Napa Valley all I can think of are grape vines and wine.

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 14, 2018 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Ellie!
      I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit to Big Sur! This has been a really fun trip, hasn’t it?
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts about what we’ll be exploring in Napa with me. You have some great ideas. ???? Have a terrific rest of your week and I’ll see you on Thursday.
      Ellen ❤️

  7. DeniseCT

    August 21, 2018 at 11:38 am

    I love these blog post! Several new stitches on this one that I had not thought about, or used before. You are definitely helping to take my stitching to a new level.

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 21, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      Awwww… Denise, you just made my day! Thank you so much for your kind words. ???? I’m tickled that you’re enjoying the blog posts.
      Ellen ????


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