Updated February 29, 2020.
Often the lazy way out seems like the best way to go with needlepoint. But, all too often, lazy when combined with solid-colored threads makes for boring results. Combine lazy with overdyed threads and you can get ugly results.
In thinking about this problem, I developed a method that need only a little more work to give fantastic results.
I first used this technique to mimic the look of Opal glass with its “clouds” of color. But I have found it to be so useful for many things. It’s great to do forests or fields in the distance. To give you the look of old paper, or to make food look more realistic.
Here’s how to clump step-by-step. Begin with a hand-dyed or over-dyed thread. Before you start to stitch, look at it so you have a feeling about how the color changes.
Now, begin to stitch. Make and irregular clump, with no more than 5-10 stitches in the longest row. The smaller the area you are covering, the smaller the clumps should be.
Do not have more than three threads in a row on any of the edges.
As soon as the color starts to change, move your needle and begin another clump. As you can see from the chart above, they can be of many sizes.
Continue in this way until you have at least half and no more than 2/3’s of the area filled with clumps. Now, using the same thread and Continental Stitch, fill in the remainder of the area (green for contrast on the chart above).
This picture shows what finished clumping looks like. I used a high contrast overdyed thread so you could easily see the clumps.
Although almost always use clumping in conjunction with Tent Stitch, you can also use it with textured stitches.
I’m getting ready to use it for a Christmas tree which will become a canvas for embellishments.