Fresh off the hoop

Fresh off the hoop

stitchers table showing beads threads and hoop embroidery

Bold colours!

I often stitch up a small area in a colour scheme that I think might be interesting. This is my latest and since it is fresh off the hoop, I thought I would share it. At first I thought this colour scheme was a little too bold to work, but I decided to try it anyway. Because I was fearful, I had to stop myself heading to a safer side of the colour wheel into the blues — but I managed to resist the urge!

hand embroidery threads

I pulled the colours from my stock of threads that I use to make up the thread twisties (available in the Pintangle shop). These little experiments are a good way to test the threads and see how they stitch up. From left to right I have selected a metallic copper-toned thread, apricot rayon thread, turquoise rayon thread, apricot cotton perle #8, turquoise cotton perle #5 an orange cotton perle #5, a turquoise yarn with a fine metallic thread in it, and an orange metallic yarn.

Take a closer look

Close up you can see the threads better. I am sometimes asked about the yarns. I use them as I would other threads. In using a needle with a large eye, the trick is the foundation fabric. If a fabric has a very fine weave, pulling these yarns through the fabric will shred or at least make them fuzzy and difficult to use. This piece was worked on 25-count linen. The linen has a lot of give in it and 25-count is not a tight weave, which means you can use unexpected threads with it.

close up of embroidery

In this close detail, you can see some of the turquoise yarn. I created the large French knots that have a sparkle in them, using the yarn. The sparkle is the metallic thread that is twisted throughout the yarn. As you can see, it’s a fun thread when stitched up. This piece is worked on a 25-count linen. Stitches I used in this are Satin Stitch, Palestrina, Bullion Knot, French Knot, Couching and Knotted Cable Chain. All of these links lead to tutorials on how to work each stitch should you want to try them.

I thought you might enjoy another close up so you can see the beads. I enjoy working in this encrusted style. There is quite a mix of beads, as they include novelty beads, seed beads and bugle beads.

Finished beaded embroidery

Here is the completed piece. It is small — about 10 cm (approx 4 inches) across. If you click on the photo, you will see a larger version. I still think this colour scheme is a bit bold – but hey, some days we need to break the rules of good taste! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed seeing my latest experiment with colour.

Thread Twisties!

Experimenting with different threads can be expensive. You would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type of thread. My thread twisties are a combination of different threads to use in creative hand embroidery. These enable you to try out stitching with something other than stranded cotton. For the price of just a few skeins, you can experiment with a bundle of threads of luscious colours and many different textures.

These are creative embroiders threads. With them, I hope to encourage you to experiment. Each Twistie is a thread bundle containing silk, cotton, rayon and wool. Threads range from extra fine (the same thickness as 1 strand of embroidery floss) to chunky couchable textured yarns. All threads have a soft and manageable drape. Twisting them around a needle makes experimental hand embroidery an interesting journey rather than a battle.  Many are hand dyed by me. All are threads I use. You may find a similar thread twist but no two are identical.

You will find my thread twisties in the Pintangle shop here.


  1. hi Sharon, accuse me of bad taste if you like, but I love vibrant colours, and I think your piece is just lovely. Being a passionate beader, I don’t think there is any such thing as too much bling, and the brighter the better!

    Joan Flynn
  2. Just curious of your plan of attack. Do you make a sketch? Place larger beads first, then stitch? Do line stitching, then start beading? Or maybe work side to side, creating as you go. Very beautiful! Inspiring, but now I need some motivation and guidance. I love your work!

    Cat Kapler
  3. Love the mix of beads and threads encrusting a space. And the turquoises and terra cottas are some of my favorite colors to bead with. (Sometimes I have to pry myself out of that very comfortable color box.)

  4. I absolutely love this style and how brave you’ve been going so bold, but it really works.
    Can I ask if you had a layout plan /design before you started? Or did you just sew as you felt led?

    Lorraine Duff
    1. I Lorraine I just answered Gill – I sort of plan a little and always apply design principals as I go. It is just how I work otherwise this type of embroidery can look a real mess very quickly

      1. Oranges and turquoise are the signature colors of the American southwest. They look beautiful here. Your piece evokes the shapes of rocky desert soils, the vast skies, the lovely treasure of semi-precious gems.

        Vee Wissler
  5. Are the different threads labelled in the thread twisties – i.e. if we like something will we know what to brand, thread, color to order from our local needlework shop?

    1. Krista – no the threads are not labelled and I source them from all over the globe so it is unlikely that you can get them in your local shop. The idea is that people get to be able to see and try and experiment with different threads. Many people have only ever used stranded floss for cross stitching. My idea is that if you experience different threads when you go to your local needlework shop and see/feel a new thread you know that either like that weight/sheen drape what ever inspires you and you can buy that thread with more confidence.
      The thread twisties arrive as they are in the photos in the store.

    2. We’re lucky here in Austin, Texas USA, to have a thread store called Needleworks which carries a large variety of off-the-beaten-path threads, as well as standard needlework and embroidery threads. I’ve been purchasing a few to use as embellishment on my wall quilts, usually because of color or a shiny effect. They don’t always go through quilting cotton well, but I’ve learned how to adequately anchor them and work just on the surface so I don’t have to punch big holes in my work. And whatever you can’t get through the base can always be couched.

      I strongly urge you to experiment with different kinds of threads—the thread samples Sharon has is a bargain worth playing with.

      Rebecca L Salinger
      1. Thanks Rebecca – Of course I totally agree experimenting with threads is a real step forward for anyone who is interested in developing a personal style in contemporary embroidery

  6. Lovely complementary color work, and I really like those semi-circular turquoise pieces. I tend to feel the same way–hesitant, I mean–about using complementary schemes, yet at the same time, I appreciate how exciting and effective they are when well executed, as is this one.

    Triche Osborne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *