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’.

Browse the thousands of designs in the Kneeler Gallery.  Check out two examples of Jonah and the Whale.


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.

Either use a programme or app on your PC or an online programme to enlarge or re-size an image. PC/Laptop programmes include photoshop, paintshop pro, gimp and a multitude of others. 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 .

Or 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 and copy it onto graph paper.  If your kneeler is to have a border, your Organiser may already have this printed on A2 graph paper.  Trace directly onto that.  Alternatively, trace it onto A4 printed from  

Centre your tracing with care.  The stitcher is going to need to know exactly how many stitches between the border and the tips of the beak and tail. 

Those of you sufficiently sophisticated to have a light box will now be able to transfer the graph paper design to the canvas with a waterproof pen. 

Follow KISS best practice –  Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Stick to basic outlines.  It is far easier to let the stitcher work out colour and details with wool rather than try to paint the design onto canvas with waterproof inks. This is a job for professionals – the rest of us make mistakes and find they cannot be washed off.

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.