Next stop on the 2018 Threadventure... Napa!
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Hello there, lovely!

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 inland to the verdant Napa Valley where thriving vineyards are nestled in amongst the rolling hills that are dotted with magnificent oak trees…


All aboard for Napa!

And here we are… gee, that was quick!

Welcome to Napa!


Have you ever been to Napa? The Napa Valley is one of the premier wine regions in the world. The geography and geology of the area – along with the Mediterranean climate – make it conducive to growing quality wine grapes. In fact, vintners have been producing wine there since 1858. 

At the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, a Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon crushed several famous French wine labels in a blind tasting. That triumph secured the region’s position as a maker of world-class wines.

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

If you guessed trees and shrubs – including grape vines – then CONGRATULATIONS! You’re exactly right! ????????????

There are lots of different kinds of trees and shrubs on needlepoint canvases. Some look quite realistic and others are more whimsical in nature.

The stitches that we’ll explore here are suitable for both types, so you’ll have several options when it comes to choosing the best stitches and threads for your needlepoint projects.

Let’s take a look at some terrific stitches for tree trunks first…

Resting under a shade tree beside a Napa vineyard


Throughout the Napa Valley, you’ll find all kinds of lush vegetation – not just grape vines. Ancient oak trees dot the hillsides and, every now and then, you’ll come upon Italian cypress trees that make you feel like you’re in Tuscany instead of central California.

Our first stitch is the Knotted Stitch. 

It’s a really good option for tree trunks when you want to add rough texture to your canvas. It’s simple to execute and it’s easy to compensate, which means that it’s a terrific choice 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 small stitch, it doesn’t take up a lot of space so you can easily use it on either a smaller size canvas or in a tight space. 


The knotted stitch is great for stitching trees and shrubs on your needlepoint projects.


I’m using Super-Suede to work this stitch.

Super-Suede is a synthetic blend thread – 50% rayon/25% cotton/25% polyester. It comes in 10 rich colors and each card holds 5 yards. Rainbow Gallery suggests that it works best on 12 – 14 mesh needlepoint canvas, and you can also use it for long stitches on 14 – 18 mesh.

Since it’s a wee bit thicker than a lot of the threads that you’ll use on 14 – 18 mesh, I recommend using a size 20 tapestry needle to spread open the canvas mesh even more, allowing Super-Suede to pass through with greater ease.

Use the stabbing method when using Super-Suede. Use it “as is” off the card and cut shorter pieces (16″). Since it’s a flat ribbon type thread, you’ll need to use a laying tool when working with it.

Rainbow Tweed, Mandarin Floss, Grandeur, Rainbow Linen, and Pebbly Perle are also good options for working tree bark, as well as the branches on trees.

Grape vines in Napa

Moving right along, our second stitch is the Ridge Stitch.

The Ridge Stitch is actually a cross stitch, albeit a lopsided one. Work it in vertical rows to create ridges that mimic the trunk of a tree or even a grapevine, like the one in the picture above.

It’s a medium size stitch, so you’ll need ample space to establish the pattern. Use the ridge stitch in medium to large size areas on your needlepoint projects.

Pay close attention to the numbering on this stitch. Work each cross stitch as a unit, and work the units in vertical rows. Start on the left side of the area you want to cover and work your way down one vertical row, then back up the next vertical row, etc.

The ridge stitch is great for stitching trees and shrubs on your needlepoint projects.


I’m using Petite Alpaca to work the Ridge stitch. 

Petite Alpaca is a 100% baby alpaca thread. It’s the baby sister to Alpaca 18. It comes in 6 natural colors and each card holds a generous 25 yards.

Rainbow Gallery suggests using it for 14 and 16 count cross stitch, but you can also use it on 18 mesh needlepoint canvas for light coverage. I didn’t try this, but you could probably double it for full coverage.

Use Petite Alpaca “as is” off the card. And since it comes in natural colors, it’s also a good choice for animals, beards, and hair. It’s super easy to work with – and super soft. I ❤️this thread!

Now, let’s take a closer look at greenery – both on trees and plants.

Close-up of grape vines in Napa

When you’re working an area on your canvas with a “close-up” of greenery on trees and shrubs or vines, you can use a larger stitch, like our next stitch…

Crow’s Foot

This is another one of those stitches where you work an entire unit before moving along to the next one on the row. Work Crow’s Foot in horizontal rows, from left to right. Pay close attention to the numbering on the diagram since each stitch unit has a lot of steps. ????

The crow's foot is great for stitching trees and shrubs on your needlepoint projects.

You have some options for working the Crow’s Foot stitch.

First, there are a couple of luscious leafy greens in Super-Suede, so you could use that thread to work the Crow’s Foot stitch.


You could opt to use an over-dyed thread like Bravo! if you want your leaves to appear shaded. And you could also use a shiny thread like Panache if you want glossy leaves.

Click here to read more about Bravo! And click here to read more about Panache.

Our fourth stitch, Double Stitch, is great for working the leafy greens on trees, shrubs, and vines…

that aren’t quite as close up. The leaves on the grape vines in the picture below are farther away than the ones in the last picture, so they have fewer visible details. You can, however, see that some of the leaves are larger and some are smaller. 

A vineyard in Napa

And that makes double stitch an outstanding choice for when you want to show varied texture in an area on your needlepoint canvas. Double stitch is a combination stitch – and it’s another cross stitch, but it’s easy to execute.

It’s a smallish stitch, so it’s a good choice for small areas or small canvases. Work the bottom legs of the large crosses first, then come back and work the top legs of the large crosses.

Finally, fill in the spaces (between the large crosses) with the small cross stitches, working each small cross stitch as a single unit.

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

The double stitch is great for stitching trees and shrubs on your needlepoint projects.

I’m using two threads
 to work the double stitch: Petite Very Velvet and Overture.

Petite Very Velvet made its debut on our trip to Big Sur last week. I’m using Petite Very Velvet to work the small cross stitches. Click here to read more about it. 

Or you could use Gold Rush XS for the small crosses if you want to add a little bit of sparkle to your greenery.

Gold Rush XS comes in 15 colors and the forest green is really pretty. It has the same properties as the other Gold Rush threads, so you can read more about them by clicking here.

Our good old friend Overture is making yet another appearance here in the Napa Valley. It’s a great alternative when you want to change colors without changing threads. I’m using Overture to work the large cross stitches. Click here to read more about Overture

Our fifth (and final) “tip-top tree and shrub” stitch is Alternating Smyrna Cross stitch... 

Napa Valley vineyard with trees and mountains in the background 

Did you notice? I’m on a cross stitch roll today! (tee hee!) I guess it’s the texture that those cross stitches create that makes me gravitate toward them when I want to evoke a sense of depth on a piece.  

Alternating Smyrna Cross stitch is a small stitch, too, so you can use it in all kinds of spaces. Whether you want to stitch the crown of a tree in the distance or use it to work a Christmas tree on an ornament, it fills the bill.

This stitch 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.

One thing to pay particular attention to is that the units alternate up and down (hence the name) on each row. 


The alternating cross stitch is great for stitching trees and shrubs on your needlepoint projects.


There are actually a couple of thread options for this cute little 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 it in Petite Silk Lamé Braid if you want to make your leaves shimmer. Click here to learn more about Petite Silk Lamé Braid, since this is not its first appearance on our Threadventure. 

One thing I recommend against doing when working this stitch is using a full-on metallic thread like Treasure Braid or Gold Rush. The light will reflect back off the thread and you won’t see the detail of the stitch, so it would really be a waste of time and effort.

And that, my friend, brings us to the end of our stay in the lush Napa Valley.

It’s been so much fun to share stitches from the Napa Valley with you.

Sunset in Napa

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

the big island of Hawaii!

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

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. El Mathias

    August 16, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Water, sand

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 16, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Hi El!
      Thank you for sharing your ideas. ????It’s so hard to believe that we’re coming to the end of our trip! Be sure and check back next week for the “big reveal”. ????
      Have a happy weekend!
      Ellen ❤️

  2. Dana Wilkirson

    August 16, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    For Hawaii, I bet we will learn stitches for water!

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 16, 2018 at 7:14 pm

      Hi Dana!
      Thank you for taking the time to write in and share your ideas here with me. ❤️????
      My lips are sealed until next Thursday… but you have a terrific suggestion. ????
      Have a happy weekend!
      Ellen ❤️

  3. Anne Ballard

    August 16, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t think I’ve managed to get any of the focal points for the previous locations, but I’ll make another stab at it, or maybe two. I tend to think of surf and lei (which happens to be the plural for leu which, in turn, is the correct term for the floral necklaces offered in greeting). My guess is ocean or flowers.

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 16, 2018 at 7:23 pm

      Hi there, Anne!
      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. And thank you for sharing that interesting fact about lei – I didn’t know that! You have a couple of terrific ideas and I can hardly wait to share what we’ll be exploring in Hawaii with you. ????
      Have a happy weekend!
      Ellen ❤️????

  4. Angela Lepore

    August 16, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    In Hawaii you can see the volcano and beautiful flowers.

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 16, 2018 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Angela!
      Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas. ???? They really do have beautiful flowers, don’t they? And those volcanoes… soooo incredible! I hope you have a wonderful weekend and please tune in next week for the big reveal. ????
      Ellen ❤️

  5. Jane Burton

    August 16, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Beautiful and colorful flowers and sunsets/sunrises would be wonderful!

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 21, 2018 at 2:57 pm

      Hi Jane!
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.???? Those are terrific ideas! Be sure and check back on Thursday for the “big reveal”.????
      Have a happy Tuesday!
      Ellen ????

  6. DeniseCT

    August 21, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Oh my gosh I think this post was custom made for me. I have been struggling for tree & leaf stitches & here they all are!!!

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 21, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      I’m so happy you’ve found the help you’ve been looking for here, Denise! That’s terrific news!!! ????
      Ellen ????

  7. Debbie Perkins

    August 21, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Flowers, the beach or maybe a volcanic ash!?

    • Ellen Johnson

      August 22, 2018 at 10:02 am

      Hi Debbie!
      Thank you for writing in. ???? Those are some terrific ideas. I’m super-excited about sharing the new stitches and threads with y’all tomorrow. ????
      Have a great day and happy stitching!


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