Geometrical or pictorial?

Geometrical designs can be extremely simple and may be less intimidating for those who have never embarked on canvaswork before.
Consider the design below. It features a central motif, a border and corner motifs. Note how the border design begins at the centre of the sides, while the corner motifs save the complication of trying to make the border design meet up satisfactorily.


The design above can be copied from a pattern by starting in the middle and counting. Here the stitcher never needs to count to more than ten.
But what a boring design! You can do better. Bear in mind the wise words of Tom Lehrer:

Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don’t shade your eyes
But plagiarise, plagiarise, plagiarise –
Only be sure always to call it please ‘research’.

Pictorial designs See the superb altar rail kneelers at SS. Peter and Paul, Pettistree, Suffolk or at St. Michael and All Angels, Berwick, Sussex. The artistic will only be limited by their imagination.
For the rest of us, it is simple to convert a picture via tracing paper to graph paper.
Suppose you want a goosander. Copy a picture from a reliable bird book. This example is from the RSPB’s Complete Birds of Britain and Europe by Robert Hume.


The picture is too small to be useful as it is in the page so it will need to be enlarged. This can be done digitally or the “old school” photocopier method.

Here we will describe the two methods.

Digital Enlarging and editing

You will need to use either a programme or app on your PC or an online programme to enlage or re-size an image. PC/Laptop programmes include photoshop, paintshop pro, gimp and a multitude of otheres. All have their pros and cons and training for most can be found on Online progames can be very good and a brilliant example is .

Photocopier Method

Just pop to your local high street copy shop and ask them to enlarge to part of the page you want to use to A4 size.


You now need tracing paper and carbon paper.

Trace the outline. The dashing will then use the carbon paper to trace it directly onto the canvas or directly onto you A2 copy of the kneeler outline. But REMEMBER you can’t alter carbon paper mistakes at all easily.
The cautious will trace it onto a separate sheet of graph paper printed from
Mark out the centre lines first and centre your picture accordingly. The stitcher is going to need to know exactly how many stitches between the border and the tips of the beak and tail. The cautious will pin the three sheets of paper together.

You can present your goosander on a plain background or draw in ripples and reeds.
Glue your A4 graph paper onto the A2 kneeler design, matching up the centre line carefully.