In 2007 at the time Bargello Revisited came out, I went on a Virtual Blog Tour, visiting different blogs. My friend Pierrette asked me to visit her blog to talk about Bargello. That blog has been replaced by Pierrette’s My Stitching Gallery, which shows of her lovely needlework. Below is the article slightly revised.
My love affair with Bargello probably started in about 1971 with a book. The book was Elsa Williams’ Bargello. I found it at my local needlepoint store. I was entranced by the lovely shading and the wonderful patterns. I bought it and immediately started to study.
Back in those days, I hadn’t really done much needlepoint, so this was completely new. The book had pictures of the finished needlepoint, but no charts, and the yarn colors didn’t match the Paternayan my shop carried. But I loved it, so I bought several shades in the same color family, some canvas and I started to decipher the patterns.
It only took one and I became hooked. Almost immediately I decided to make covers for our dining room chairs (I was 14). My dad made a frame, my mom and I picked out thread colors (rust, dark green, and ivory) and I picked patterns from the book. I didn’t get very far as chair covers are big, really big. It’s a dream project to this day.
The next Bargello pieces I remember were a pair of evening purses in shades of turquoise I made while I was in college. Doing needlepoint kept me sane in the intense environment of
This pillow, a not very well counted version of an Elsa Williams pattern, was made around that time. If you look closely, you will see the count is off and not all the diamonds are even, but 30 years later, I still love the colors.
I also became fascinated by the idea of a solid color Bargello as a background. Being self-taught is not always a good thing as you don’t know when something is hard. So my first attempt at this was a Hungarianpoint pattern and I didn’t know how to count it properly. I still have the piece and it pains me to look at it.
Shortly after I got married, I started to branch out in my Bargello, making the pillow you see here. I became fascinated to use different threads, which was revolutionary in needlepoint in the early 80’s. This one is of another classic pattern.
I explored the idea of making what I call Op Art Bargello (there’s a pattern like this in the book) where there are only a few lines of color against a solid background. I still love the graphic impact of these designs. This project from Bargello Revisited is my latest Op Art Bargello.
I kept exploring ideas like single color Bargello using different threads, making a lovely Bargello scallop shell (my Mom and DD have my versions of this one) and an all-white pillow. I also kept reading every book on Bargello I could find, getting them from the library over and over again.
In the 90’s my life got extremely busy with kids, big house, a nanny, and a high-pressure job, so my needlepoint changed too. I started to look for small projects, which were easily portable and fast to make. That’s when I started doing the Bargello mini-socks. By my estimate I’ve made close to 40, every one different. I would find a pattern I liked in a book or magazine and I would buy some threads or raid the stash and make a mini-sock. The first ones I finished myself. Now I have them finished or they languish in my stash. Some of my favorites are in the book. Others I’ve given to friends.
Here are pictures of some mini-socks I did at the time the book came out. The first one, still unfinished, is a Hungarianpoint medallion design. I haven’t done this before and I made sort of a random outline and started to fill in. I’m not happy with it becauce the center doesn’t look good. I think I’m going to try it again working from the center out.
This one, which has the charted line below it, is a scallop pattern I call swag because it looks like swags in drapes. With this I’m also trying to break out of my color rut. Orchids are not my favorite colors, but I do like this. That’s a good thing about mini-socks, you can try colors here with no risk. You might not make an orchid pillow, but an orchid ornament is OK.
As a gift to you, here’s the line for this pattern. Thanks Pierrette for letting me republish it.
So what’s next? I like the idea of trying out color schemes in mini-socks, so I think I’m going to do a series based on the colors paint companies come up with for painting a room. I’m kind of intrigued by the idea of proportions in Bargello design, so I’m going to explore changing the proportions of the colors and see what happens. I’m going off to the paint store tomorrow to get some inspiration (I also need to find paint for several rooms in my house).