Creating Needlepoint Plaids

Creating your own plaid pattern in needlepoint can be quite interesting and fun.   Jane Gable has written instructions for creating symmetrical needlepoint plaids…

…and for creating argyle plaid patterns.  She says feel free to share her instructions with your friends.

Chottie Alderson was the first to describe an easy way to create a plaid pattern on needlepoint canvas with tent stitches. This is a brief explanation of how Chottie's Plaid is made.

Here is a more elaborate plaid, also done in Chottie's Plaid stitch.

ANG's diagram of Chottie's Plaid is drawn from Chottie's own information.  I hope this is still accessible on ANG's website since their new policy only allows members to see most of the information on the site.

All you are actually doing in creating a basic plaid pattern is filling an area in skip tent stitch using the colors you want for your plaid. Let's say you want a blue and orange checkerboard effect with a thin black dividing line between the two main colors of blue and orange. Then you will do 7 rows of blue, one row of black, 7 rows of orange and one of black, then work 7 blue rows again and repeat the sequence until the area is covered with skip tent.

When the entire space you want to be plaid is covered in skip tent, you turn the canvas 90 degrees so that the top is now on the left or right side (doesn't matter which), and fill in the empty canvas threads in the same color sequence—which in this case is 7 blue rows, 1 black row, 7 orange rows, 1 black row, repeat.

How do you figure out the rows and colors? That's something you have to work out in your mind or on graph paper. However, there is something called a birthday plaid that does the sequence for you.

First, pick your colors. Let's do purple, pink, lime and turquoise this time. Now choose a birthdate, your phone number, the street address or zip code, etc. Any number sequence will do. I will choose 72180. Now I will work 7 rows of purple, 2 of pink, 1 of lime, and eight of turquoise. When you come to zero in your sequence you can drop it or do ten rows. I don't want 17 rows of purple so I will drop the zero and just work 7218. The fun is you won't know what the plaid will look like until you have the entire skip tent done with the canvas upright and you have some rows of the second skip tent sequence done with the canvas turned on its side.

I do recommend you limit your colors to 4-5. That makes for a more coherent plaid pattern. I also think alternating wide bands of color with narrow ones makes for a more pleasing design. If you want help, look for Marion Pakula's book on plaids…

…or try to find Chottie Aldersen's Chottie's Plaid 1 and Chottie's Plaid 2.

Ruth talks about her plaid here.

Donna's Halloween spider plaid is a lot of fun.

Here are the EGA free project instructions that Donna used.

This makes a really fun teaching project for kids who want to master the tent stitch. They can pick their color and numbers, then fill in a shape that can be made up into a quick ornament or coaster if you use plastic canvas and glue felt and a loop for hanging on the back side.

UPDATE:  Whimsical Stitch has diagrammed an Argyle plaid.

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