Growing up as I did in the East, November 2 was All Souls’ Day for my Catholic friends. Growing up in California, as my husband did, with its Hispanic heritage, November 2 also meant Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. It’s the Mexican celebration of All Souls’ Day.
These days many people have heard of Day of the Dead and its colorful traditions. But this holiday has its roots deep in Catholic tradition. For us November is the month we pray especially for those who have died. November 2 is particularly the day we remember them in our Masses. The Mexican celebration extends from this feast and its importance.
One of the most iconic symbols of Dia de los Muertos is the sugar skull. Originally these were molded white sugar candies that were elaborately decorated with colorful icing. You can still find these today. But you can also find sugar skulls as many other decorations including strings of lights and temporary tatoos.
Several companies make sugar skull needlepoint canvases. Needledeeva makes some of my favorites, both hearts and mini skulls, above. You can find them under both new designs and under Halloween at her site.
Keri Ambrosino is a folk artist who has many of her works available as needlepoint canvases in her Etsy shop. She has several sugar skull designs currently in stock as well as other designs (including a sugar skull bouquet) that can be special ordered on canvas. One of her pieces is pictured at the top of this post.
Tapestry Fair has stunning needlepoint canvases celebrating Dia de los Muertos from the paintings of Manuel Salas, above. These canvases are large, complex, and almost too beautiful to stitch. They are real treasures. If you live in the Phoenix area, contact BeStitched, they feature one of these canvases for their annual Day of the Dead class.
Extending a bit from the skull, Brenda Sofft has a series of six cat faces decorated like sugar skulls. These are my favorites of all of these designs.
Finally, if you search a bit you can also find many patterns for cross stitch or Perler beads that can be adapted to needlepoint.
If you want to see some lovely stitched needlepoint of sugar skull, look at the work of Alison White (also pictured above). She stitches intricate skulls in needlepoint.
If you are looking for accessories that celebrate this holiday as well, there are plenty of those as well. I found needleminders from Kelmscott and UnconventionalX (Etsy seller from Australia), as well as the delightful skeleton toile bags at Needle in a Haystack.