Mary Corbet

writer and founder


I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (40) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Historical Needlepoint Hand-painted Canvas…


Amazon Books

I’ve been told that needlepoint is a very “relaxing” form of needlework. Truthfully, I don’t really know. I recall as a kid doing some little needlepoint design on plastic canvas, that came with a kit of sorts – and that’s the only time I’ve ever played with the technique. Well, my tastes have matured a bit, and, with a little bit of luck, I’ve come into possession of what promises to be an exciting project.

The Traquair House needlepoint canvases are hand-painted by Phillipa Turnbull. They are, “by special permission from The Laird of Traquair House in Scotland, an exact replica from a panel of slips from the 16th Century.” There are 9 slips altogether. You can see photos of them at The Crewel Work Company.

Traquair House dates to 1107 (900 hundred years old!) when, according to the historical information on the website, the house was a hunting lodge for the Scottish royalty. Now, it’s one of those “I’d love to go there” historical spots that hosts tours, events, and weddings, has a brewery on site, and even has Bed and Breakfast accommodations. It looks like a lovely place with a glorious history. You can read all about it at the Traquair House website.

Back to needlepoint! The panel I have is the Griffin, Pomegranates and Swooping Bird panel:

And it came with the whole palette of Trebizond silk!

This is the whole canvas. I’m glad it’s the Griffin! As you probably guessed, I didn’t actually order this specifically – it came as part of the needlepoint treasure box from Twining Thread, which, sadly, is no more.

There’s the griffin up close. I like him!

Here’s the Trebizond palette.

The piece is supposed to be worked entirely in tent stitch (or petit point), which I guess will make the stitching itself rather easy, except, perhaps, for the changing of colors rather often. I’m assuming that it should be worked in the “basketweave” style of tent stitching. The unfortunate part of receiving this canvas for a mere (small!) fraction of it’s regular retail price (along with all the silks, to boot!) is that it didn’t come with specific instructions. I’m hoping I know enough about needlework to manage working the piece, and what I don’t know, I may be able to guess!

I’ve worked a lot of canvas stitches and their variations on evenweave, to play with them, but I’ve never actually worked a whole piece of needlework of this quality. So wish me luck! I can’t wait until I have time to get it going!

If anyone out there has any advice about working on this type of canvas, I am, as usual, all ears!


Leave A Comment

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


(6) Comments

  1. Hi Mary –
    Hand-painted needlepoint canvases seldom come with specific instructions. “Stitch Guides” are written for a few hand-painted canvases by needlepoint experts. The Stitch Guide will include threads that the writer used and stitches used in specific areas on the canvas. However, it is important to keep in mind that a Stitch Guide is just that – a guide, a suggestion from one person. And again, only a fraction of hand-painted canvases have a Stitch Guide written for them.

    I know for a fact the Traquair House canvases are often sold alone without thread pallettes and without stitch guides. Some stores might choose to carry the thread pallettes and maybe there is a store out there that has taken the time to write a stitch guide, but many needlepointers will simply purchase canvases alone without either.

    I think a lot of people view needlepoint as “easy”, but the true challenge is choosing the fibers, colors, stitches and putting it all together to make a beautiful piece of needleart.

    Needlepointers all have there personal ways of stitching – choosing to stitch from the center out, details or background first. On a piece such as the Traquair House canvas, my personal bent is toward the traditional tent stitch (executed in a number of different ways such as Basketweave, Continental, Half Cross etc). If you’re having difficulty deciding where to begin, why not simply choose a motif – maybe one of the flowers or the grass – and place that first stitch. You’ll find it all coming together before you know it.
    Enjoy your fabulous project!

  2. Thanks!

    I did start – I love the pallette that was sent with it (Trebizond colors – about 16 or so of them), although I have added a few more colors to it.

    I’m using the tent stitch, and, depending on the motif, I’m using all three different types!

    I’ve got the griffin fellow finished except for the black (almost finished with that), the grass, the two lower pomegranites, their branches, and a couple flowers and leaves done. I like it so far, and it’s reeeeally relaxing “work.”

    I’m debating what color to use for the background – perhaps a just-barely-lighter shade than the canvas itself.

    Thanks, J!

  3. Hi Mary,

    did you ever update and show the finished product here? I would love to see it if you did, I can’t seem to find it on your site.

    I’m glad it was, in fact, relaxing! 🙂

    1. Oh, that’s a shame, but it’s not like you haven’t been producing tons of beautiful work since then, so I can understand the not getting back to it! Thank you for your response.

More Comments