Updated February 26, 2018
Ever seen the “very interesting” Nazi? Or Tyrone, the dirty old man on the park bench? Those are two of Arte Johnson’s most memorable characters from Laugh-In. I just love his stuff (if you don’t know him, visit YouTube to watch him; the link goes to a list of his videos).
Arte Johnson was a needlepointer. He invented a delightful method for using up scraps of thread which is named the Arte Johnson Stitch after him. His method is delightfully adaptable for many kinds of threads and was used to stitch the front of this Sophia Designs needlepoint purse. The Arte Johnson Stitch consists of Cashmere Stitches, stitched in diagonal rows. The trick is found in how the threads are selected and picked.
Use leftover strands of Persian wool and some 14 mesh canvas. Separate all the strands of wool and put them into a paper bag.
Begin by pulling out two strands at random. Cut them so they are the same length and thread together into a needle.
Start stitching the row of Cashmere stitches (charted above) in one corner of the canvas. Stitch as far along a diagonal line as possible with these two threads, whether it is part of a row, a complete row, or more than one row.
When these threads are used, repeat the random selection process again and stitch until that needleful is used up. Continue in this way until all the thread is used or the piece is completed.
Put your leftover strands in a second bag and use that bag for your random selection once everything in the first bag is used.
This method produces tweeded stitches (random flecks of two or more colors in an area of stitching) in random colors. For many of stitchers, this is just too random. To control the color, do not decide in advance which threads to pull, control the threads which go into the bag.
The needlepoint purse pictured here uses reds, pinks, violets and a few multicolored strands. A watery scene would use blues with a few greens, violets and yellows. This gives a random, tweeded effect, while still controlling color palettes. In this case, using some (or all) multicolored threads softens the tweeding to an Impressionsitic, watercolor effect.