Mystery Projects have been around a long time in needlepoint. Part of the fun of these projects is not knowing what the finished project will look like. Mystery projects can take two forms.
The first type, the Painted Canvas Mystery, starts by showing you the painted canvas with no stitching on it. Therefore you know something of what you are getting into. You can tell if the artist or the design is a style you like. In other words will it be a canvas you would like to stitch.
Materials can be specified or not at the beginning of these mysteries. What you will not know is how they will be used. Rarely should this be an important part of your decision to do these mysteries. Remember threads can always be changed.
You’ll also know something about the teacher and the style of the work. Is the teacher known for open stitches? Expect to find them in the mystery, Are this teacher’s projects full of bling? You should expect some embellishment. In other words, would you take a class from this teacher if you liked the project?
The other type, the Traditional Mystery, is usually found with charted needlepoint. Loretta Spears popularized these projects with her many Bargello mysteries. You get the canvas size, a materials list, and, possibly, the finished project size. If you see any pictures before you start they will only be of a portion of the design. The picture of the cupcake is a simple example of this kind of picture.
How the Mystery Works
All mysteries are divided into lessons that are given to you at specified times. Each of these lessons will cover a part of the project. For a painted canvas, this might be one or more areas to stitch. For a charted project, each lesson will reveal more of the design. Looking at the cupcake, one lesson could be the frosting, one the cake, and one the embellishment.
Today, most teachers of mystery projects make these designs available as complete projects once the initial group has completed the design. it still might be called ___________ Mystery, but you will have the picture of the finished project.
Loretta Spears mysteries are an exception to this, they have no pictures.
Some Mystery Teachers
For painted canvases Ruth Schmuff is best known for mysteries. Sandra Arthur also does some. Blue Dogwood Designs has an annual painted or line-drawn mystery project each year.
In charted needlepoint, Kathy Rees does many mysteries. Charted mysteries are also often offered through the Shining Needle Society.
Each year the Needle Arts Mystery Retreat features a project done by a group of four teachers. It’s a popular event for lovers of this style.
These are just some of the designers and teachers offering mystery projects.
No matter what style of needlepoint you like, you can find a mystery perfect for you.