How to Choose Threads that Get Noticed
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Hello lovelies! I’m so happy to be back with you here today. I had a wee bit of a life hiccup these past three weeks…my sweet Mama had to have unexpected open heart surgery (5 bypasses – yikes!) and I’ve been on Mommy Duty. 😉

Now that she’s back in Tuscaloosa, things are starting to settle down some and…

I’m ready to talk needlepoint! How about you?!

Last time, we chatted about how there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for choosing stitches and threads for your needlepoint projects. Instead, you really need to examine and evaluate each canvas individually. If you missed that blog post, you can click here to read it.

Now, we’re going to examine the design components on my Tuscaloosa needlepoint canvas.

Are you ready to dive in? Great!

Tuscaloosa needlepoint canvas

Remember, a design component is an item that is painted on your canvas.

Here’s a list of the design components on the Tuscaloosa canvas for you:

  • the river
  • the trees
  • the grassy area
  • the park benches
  • the sidewalk
  • the railing
  • the lamp posts
  • the riverboat
  • Denny Chimes (the bell tower behind the trees)
  • the word “Tuscaloosa”
  • the sky

The focal point of the design is the word “Tuscaloosa” and the subordinate focal points are Denny Chimes and the riverboat. Since those are the most important design components on the canvas – and what I want people to notice first – let’s begin by jotting down some notes about the different textures each of those items might have.

Denny Chimes is a brick bell tower…

and when I think about bricks, there are several descriptive words that come to mind: rough, mottled colors, hard, and straight.

The bricks used to build Denny Chimes are rusty red in color and their texture is rough. There is also a bit of white limestone at the base and at the crown of the tower. Limestone is smooth and has a matte finish. So, when I start to look for threads, I need to keep all of these things in mind.

Moving along to the riverboat…

it’s made of wood and has been painted glossy white, so it’s shiny. The double paddle wheels are bright red – and they’re shiny, too. The black smokestacks are made of metal, but they have a slightly matte finish – and they’re topped with gold decorative crowns. Again, I’ll keep all of these textures in mind when I go stash diving for threads (or head to my local needlework shop if I don’t already have what I need!).

And, finally, the word “Tuscaloosa”…

the focal point of the design! This is what I want people to notice first when they look at my finished ornament hanging on the Christmas tree. How can I ensure that it really stands out?  There are a couple of viable options: red metallic thread or red beads. Either would work quite well and, since that is actually one of the last things I’ll stitch, I have plenty of time to make my decision.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the other design components.

The river sparkles when the sunshine glints off the surface. It usually flows very calmly toward its juncture with the Tombigbee River, but it ripples and has foamy waves when boats and barges make their way up and downstream.

There’s a mixture of pine and hardwood trees along the shoreline. The pine trees are very dark evergreen and their needles are long and slender. The hardwood trees have broad bright green leaves.

The grassy area beside the river feels soft under your bare feet – and the grass is emerald green

The park benches, the railing, and the lamp posts are made of cast iron, so they’re hard; they have a bit of a sheen to them because they’ve been painted with glossy black paint. (The lights on the lamp posts have frosted white globes and they glow with a soft light in the evening.)

The sidewalk is rough and hard – it’s made of concrete and it’s very pale gray in color.

The sky is different every day, so I have a lot of leeway in how I choose to stitch it. Summer is my favorite season, so I’m leaning toward a “bluebird” sky with puffy white clouds.

Now, it’s time to take my list of descriptive words and go stash diving for thread options!

Next time, I’ll show you the threads I find and we’ll take a look at some different stitches that can be used to embellish this little canvas to make it really shine.

Until then, what’s your favorite needlepoint thread? Tell me in the comments box below – and why you like it so much – and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a “Spring Fling” thread bouquet from our friends at Rainbow Gallery. (The drawing will be held on April 30, 2018.)

Happy Stitching!
Stitch with a smile!



PS: Are you a member of the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook group? That’s where we share ideas and cheer each other on and I’d love to have you join us, so click here to request an invite. I’ll see you on the inside!

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  1. Liz Watson

    April 12, 2018 at 5:56 am

    I love Gloriana silk floss because of the subtle color changes with the thread. It is often my go to thread for background. Next might be Silk Straw Econ though you need to run it through a flat iron. It, too, has subtle color changes. It’s great for a lot of elements.

    • Ellen Johnson

      April 12, 2018 at 11:21 am

      Hi Liz! Thank you for taking the time to share your favorite threads with me. 🙂 Gloriana does have beautiful threads – and silk ribbons!

  2. Laraine Croall

    April 12, 2018 at 7:59 am

    I am a member and I had seen your videos but this blog made sense of what the video described. I am a visual learner as well auditory so this made sense. Have not been able to the Q and A because I forget about them. I have to find a way to print this out for further reference. Thanks so much

    • Ellen Johnson

      April 12, 2018 at 11:20 am

      Hi Laraine! Thank you for your note. 🙂 I’m so glad you found the info in this post helpful. We’re actually having a Q & A call tonight at 7:00 p.m. CST and I’d love to have you join us. 🙂

  3. Ellie

    April 12, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    I love the choices of pepperpot and the feel of velvet. Also enjoy working with vineyard silk and impressions. There are so many beautiful choices and just seeing them inspires me to needlepoint.

    • Ellen Johnson

      April 12, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      Pepper Pot is one of my “go-to” faves, too, Ellie! 🙂 And I’m with you…the choices we have today are soooo wonderful that it’s hard to pick just one.

  4. Carol

    April 12, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Gloriana is my favorite. Even though it has to be stranded and laid, it’s butter smooth and lightly glistens. Glorious colors too.

    • Ellen Johnson

      April 12, 2018 at 6:55 pm

      I agree – Gloriana is a delight to work with, Carol! 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  5. Susan Larson

    April 14, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Right now I am attached to Watercolors.The changes in colors as I stitch bring out the same hues elsewhere in the piece.

    • Ellen Johnson

      April 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Watercolours is one of my favorite threads, too, Susan! 🙂 I’m actually going to use it on my Tuscaloosa canvas. I can’t wait to share my other thread choices with y’all too! Thanks for your note.

  6. Susan Larson

    April 14, 2018 at 11:12 am

    I really do enjoy stitching with Watercolors because of all the changes in colors as you stitch that bring out the same colors elsewhere….but today it’s the thread that is most cooperative. …lays straight…doesn’t knot up….even likes the stitch I thought would look good, and easily threads the needle.

    • Ellen Johnson

      April 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm


  7. Lauren Eaton Prescott

    April 18, 2018 at 9:00 am

    No. 1 favorite is Vineyard silk…use it for backgrounds frequently, as well as other elements.
    Ellen, I love your approach to teaching. Sorry I was never in your shop.

    • Ellen Johnson

      April 18, 2018 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Lauren! Thank you for your note. Vineyard Silk is a terrific thread…I’ve used it a lot, too! 😉 And thank you for your kind words. I’m truly blessed to be able to share my love of needlework with you and our Serendipity Circle of Friends. 🙂

  8. Amy F

    April 19, 2018 at 7:40 am

    I used Silk n Ivory for a large Berlin style floral piece, and it was wonderful to stitch. The Caron variegated threads are always beautiful too.

    • Ellen Johnson

      April 19, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      Hi Amy! Thank you for sharing that! I like Silk and Ivory, too. The colors are sooo pretty – and it’s super easy to stitch with. And I really like some of the Caron Collection threads, too. Watercolours is probably my favorite! 😉

  9. Carol M Lamon

    October 20, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    My favorites are the silk threads because they feel so good gliding through my fingers. Makes needlework even more enjoyable. They also are easy to thread & they wear well.

    • Ellen Johnson

      October 21, 2019 at 11:12 am

      Hi Carol!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to share which threads you like working with the most. I LOVE silk threads, too! 😉
      And you’re right – they are super-durable, contrary to what most people think.
      Happy stitching…
      Ellen 🙂


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