A little love for Rhodes stitches

Rhodes stitches are one of the work horse stitches in a needleworker’s tool box. Spot motifs, borders, combinations, different shapes and sizes – how could we live without our Rhodes stitches?

A Rhodes stitch is always capitalized when you see it in print, named for the person, Mary Rhodes, who is credited with its creation. A Rhodes stitch is characterized by all of the stitches crossing a center point, which puts as much thread on the back of the canvas as the front. It’s a highly textured stitch, and one that works great in a wide variety of threads.

When I first started doing Rhodes stitches, I was a little troubled by the finished look. My first Rhodes stitches were usually squares, and the final stitch was almost always oblique, not the true vertical, horizontal or diagonal stitch. When I started designing I started tinkering with it, to have the final look be more pleasing to my eye.

Here’s how a Rhodes square over 4 is usually diagrammed:

You can see that the stitch begins with the true diagonal, making the final stitch oblique. This is the look that I didn’t care for, so I began diagramming my Rhodes squares like this:

The first stitch, shown in red, is the oblique stitch, so the final stitch can be the true diagonal.

But what if the project doesn’t have a diagonal feel to it, and I’d rather have the final stitch be horizontal or vertical? Easy peasy – just alter the placement of the first stitch:

In the examples above, the final stitch is a true vertical or a true horizontal.

And why does it matter? The overall look and feel of a piece is made up of all its component parts. If I want the center to be emphasized, I want all of the stitches to be “pointing” to the center. If I want a strong horizontal line, say for a border, I want all of the stitches to reinforce that feel.

But wait a minute – aren’t all Rhodes stitches in a piece supposed to have the same final stitch? Yes, and no. If I’m stitching a border, for uniformity I want all of the final stitches to be the same. But if I want to emphasize a particular area, I want the final stitch to be pointing toward that area.

In “A Bump in the Rhodes”, pictured at the top, the Rhodes stitches don’t all have the same final stitch. You’ll see that the very large Rhodes squares in the corners have final diagonal stitches that point toward the center. Since I determine which is the final stitch based on my first stitch, it’s an easy thing to manipulate so the stitch looks the way I want it.

And this is something you can do in your projects as well. Determine how you want your final stitch to lay, and stitch away. If you have trouble with the layout, here’s a little trick – start your Rhodes stitch with the true line, stitch round, then stitch over the first stitch:

I’ve slightly offset the first stitch so you can see it better, but when you actually stitch it will be covered by the final stitch. Your finished Rhodes will be slightly higher in texture, so make sure you do all of them the same, but the final look is a standard Rhodes square.

I hope this helps you as you plan out your stitching. All Rhodes stitches can be stitched in this way, with you determining how you want your finished Rhodes to look.

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Musings on color

I’m working on a new design, and ran into a roadblock. You see, the colors I thought¬†I wanted to use, I didn’t want to use once I started stitching. Sigh.

Of course, when I discovered this I didn’t have access to my tools that I usually use when selecting colors, or my local shop. I was traveling and had only the chart, the canvas and the threads I thought I wanted to use with me.

So, after some Googling, I made a trip to the local big box store to see if they would have the threads I wanted to use. I’m always reluctant to bring my thread bag with me into a store, since I don’t always have receipts for the threads I’ve already bought and don’t want to be accused of shop lifting! But, I did take in the overdyed thread I was using to hopefully use that as a reference.

Computers are a wonderful thing, but trying to guess at colors from looking at a computer screen is not the best course of action. I refer to actual thread color cards for most of my color selections. (By the way, did you know that you can get a new DMC color card with actual threads, which includes the newly released colors! A wonderful resource for every stitcher!) I made a list of the colors that I guessed might work, and headed off to the store.

Some of the threads on my list I rejected right off. I bought probably an additional dozen skeins of floss, when I only needed 3, but I needed to test the colors with the other threads in the project and didn’t want to have to go back to the store. The leftover floss will go in my stash for another time.

And I had an “ah ha!” moment when I had all the threads and was deciding which ones to use. The thread doesn’t have to match – it has to go.¬†Do you understand that?

The original threads I had selected matched with my overdyed pretty well, but they didn’t go. They didn’t play nicely together. And that’s why I had to scrap what I had selected, and make other choices.

So now, off to play with my threads and make sure they “go”. I’ll post pictures of my progress a little later. I’ll take you through this project step by step, starting tomorrow.

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Cuff bracelets continued

Pink_CuffI had so much fun working on these cuff bracelets. DMC suggests that #5 pearl cotton is perfect for these, and they’re right. For this one I used a #5 pearl in the Coloris line, and I loved the colors and how easy it was to stitch.

The last post I mentioned the difficulty I had with graphing these out, and I had a little trouble with this one too. What – it’s all cross stitch! What’s so difficult about that! Well, remember that I count threads, not holes, and there are no threads on the cuff bracelets. So when I laid this one out before I stitched, I discovered that my count was off, and what I had laid out was not going to work. So I had to make changes as I stitched. And I’m terrible at math. It involved some trial and error to make sure the opening would be big enough for the cabochon. And I stitched the whole thing and then found out that my openings were not evenly spaced. Sigh. So I had to do some ripping to get the openings evenly spaced, then restitched. Aren’t you glad I went through the trial and error so you don’t have to!

The cabochons are lovely, from Fire Mountain. I can spend hours looking through the Fire Mountain site, so I have to be very careful not to get distracted. They have lots of cabochons this size and shape in tons of colors, so you can get cabochons the color you want to match a specific outfit. DMC Coloris comes in several colors so I bet you wouldn’t have any trouble coordinating the cabochons and threads, and there are always solid color #5 pearl cottons as well.

After I did the stitching I glued the cabochons to the cuff using Alene’s Tacky Glue, the clear one not the white one. The holes in the cuff bracelets are plenty big for stitching, but not so big that the glue oozed through to the other side. The cabochons just fit the opening so it was pretty easy to get them centered

I think this one may be my favorite!

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More about the cuff bracelets


I had so much fun working on these little cuffs. I think this one may be my favorite!

But first a word about graphing and stitching. As a counted canvas designer, I count threads; on the graphs, that’s the lines on the graph. But since there aren’t any lines or threads on these cuffs, it took me a little time to switch gears to count holes. And that made for a little problem with graphing, since I use needlepoint lines on my graphs.

This design is mostly straight stitches like back stitches, and I hate trying to count from a graph where the stitching line is on a line. So, I had to stitch first, then graph, which is not my usual stitching/designing method. After some trial and error I figured it out.

I used Kreinik #4 braid for the gold lines, and used that same thread to stitch the glass pearls and gold glass seed beads in place. I stitched them as I came to them instead of stitching all the lines first, then the beads. But if it makes more sense when you are stitching to stitch the lines first then the beads, that will work too.

I also love the look of this cuff when finished. To me it looks the most like a cuff bracelet you could buy, and I love the chunky nature of the pearls on the cuff.

Of course, any beads would work, and any thread, I just liked the elegance of the black, gold and pearls.

Tomorrow I’ll discuss the others – it may take more than a couple of posts to get it all in!

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DMC Cuff Bracelets

Have you seen the DMC cuff bracelets in the shops? These are marvelous! Here’s a link to see what they look like:


The cuffs are faux leather, with 2 snaps so they’re somewhat adjustable. The cuffs come in four colors – black, navy, fuchsia and white. I got one of each color because I couldn’t decide how I wanted to stitch these. DMC recommends #5 pearl cotton for these cuffs and it was the perfect size.

BraceletCompositAs I was playing with these it occurred to me that beads, cabochons and pearls were perfect embellishments; after all, cuff bracelets are jewelry!

I did find it a little difficult to graph out the designs. I’m used to graphing with needlepoint lines, where the graph shows the end points of stitches in holes. I started out trying to graph these as cross stitch, using blocks. But that didn’t really work either. So I went back to the needlepoint lines and have managed to present these in a stitchable (I think) format.

I began the process as I usually do, graphing out what I was planning to stitch, then stitching. When I came to the actual stitching process, what I had graphed didn’t work, so I had to design on the fly as I was stitching. That’s not the most comfortable process for me, so there was a little trial and error that involved ripping. But in the end I’m pleased with the stitchability of these little cuffs and the end result.

I think these are perfect for gifting, especially for teen agers. Teens love jewelry, and who wouldn’t love something custom made that doesn’t look like what anyone else is wearing. And just a hint, I’ve seen boys wearing cuffs too, so don’t think they’re only for girls. The key is to stitch a design that the boys want to wear.

Each of these design took me less than 3 hours to stitch, so a single evening’s work. That includes the trial and error part! And when the stitching is finished, the project is finished – no need for framing or finding a way to turn it into something wearable.

I’ll discuss each design in the next few days, some tips and some of the little errors I made while stitching. In the meantime, start thinking about who needs a cuff!

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