Painted Pony Beyond Basketweave are hand-painted canvases on large (13) mesh that come with stitch guides. These simple designs are, as it says in the guide, “the second step in learning needlepoint.” They come in many designs, about 3″ square so they are quick to stitch.
Each canvas includes a stitch guide. In terms of a canvas the designs are stitch-painted so that it’s easy to tell what to do. On the back of the stitch guide is a material list and on the front is a color picture of the stitched model.
The guide itself is on an additional page. It does not include instructions for Tent Stitch. It also suggests that you might want to refer to a book. I like that it suggests that. While the information you need to stitch the piece is in the guide, many beginners will feel more comfortable with more instruction.
The guide takes each section of the canvas and lists the thread(s) needed and how to stitch it. If there is more than one step to complete the area, they are listed as letter steps.
The Candy Corn canvas I stitched has Padded Gobelin, referred to as Satin Stitch in each step, as its focus. While the instructions are complete, they were sketchy. I think beginners would feel more comfortable if instead of “Do not cover the area completely” in the first step for the corn, they were told exactly what “not completely” meant.
I don’t think this would have required much more space than was used. I can understand wanting to keep the guide short and uncomplicated. But this guide has lots of white space in it, so more text could easily be used.
I also worry about problems the stitcher might encounter and that they are addressed. Nothing is said, for example, about what to do if your thread twists in the Satin Stitches. The stitcher is also not told to cross the background crosses in the same direction.
I guess I would like a more friendly feel to the guides. I’d like to know that the stitcher is getting little tips to success. I would like to hear the voice of the stitch guide writer sharing knowledge she has gained. Her enthusiasm coming through the guide will help make the beginner enthused as well.
The guides are effective in teaching new skills and include clever designs, I just wish they had a bit more.
Whenever a craft gets popular, there is always a problem getting people beyond that initial step. Knitting is a great example. How many people took up knitting in the big craze for it, knitted tons of scarves and never went beyond that? How many people learn Basketweave and never do anything else?
It’s common and often it’s because the industry does not address the next step. While in knitting making the jump to a sweater, or even socks, is hard and requires learning many new things, in needlepoint you can easily progress learning new stitches and techniques and getting comfortable with new threads, all while creating beautiful pieces.
The problem needlepoint faces is not the lack of designs, there are plenty of canvases great for beginners out there, but a lack of instruction. We buy canvases either without guides or with expensive guides that assume more than a beginner’s level of knowledge.
Painted Pony has addressed this problem with a thoughtfully designed line that includes the instruction — all at an affordable price. Can more designers meet this challenge?