Stitch of the Month
December 2006: Autumn in the Highlands by Kathy Fenchel


You will need:

And the following threads:

Tape or bind the edges of your canvas. Attach it to the stretcher bars and mark the top of your canvas (the ten inch side).

The directions are written in the order that Autumn in the Highlands should be stitched. This is because the accurate placement of the design elements in this piece is dependent on the correct placement of the previously stitched area. This will become obvious to you once you begin stitching. The stitching begins with the outside border and moves in toward the center. A little unorthodox, but it works!


The outside border is stitched in a herringbone stitch, which was the July Stitch of the Month. Briefly review the July directions before you move on. The first thread used is Neon Rays N29 rust.

Begin in the lower left hand corner. The outermost corner is 1" from the bottom of the canvas and 1" in from the left hand edge of the canvas.

  1. Begin by making a cross in the lower left corner as diagrammed below with rust Neon Rays.

  2. After the cross has been stitched, continue following the numbering system until you have created 14 peaks across the bottom of your canvas.

  3. Once you have completed the bottom row of stitches, turn your canvas to the right to begin stitching the right side of the border. In reality you will now be working on the right hand vertical side of the stitched design, but because you have turned your canvas, you will stitch the side horizontally rather than vertically. Make the large X as you did in step one. Continue as you did in step two. Instead of stitching 14 peaks, you will be stitching 23 peaks.
  4. Work your way around the entire design area, turning the canvas to the right as you complete each side.
  5. After the first color has been stitched around the perimeter of the design, you can begin adding the second color to your border. The second color that you will be using is 021HL Kreinik Braid. Follow the chart below. Once you reach the corner, turn your canvas and continue around the entire design area.

  6. Follow the chart below to add the third color, which is the Needle Necessities #8 overdye pearl cotton.

  7. The addition of the fourth color has been charted below. Use two strands of black floss.


The argyle border was the March Stitch of the Month. Please review the directions before beginning.

  1. Begin in the upper left hand corner of the design. Stitch 18 diamonds using rust NeonRays. Begin stitching 10 canvas threads below the upper inside corner of the outside Herringbone border and four threads in. Refer to the diagram below.

  2. Once you have stitched 18 diamonds across the top of the canvas, stitch 14 pairs of diamonds down the right side. Refer to the following diagram. Please note that when you are stitching the diamonds, you must follow the numbered sequence diagrammed below so that as you carry threads across the back of the canvas, they will not show through to the front.

  3. Once all fourteen pair of diamonds are stitched, begin stitching the diamonds across the bottom of the canvas (from right to left). There is the same number of diamonds across the bottom as the top (18), but be aware that pair number fourteen count as two of the 18 diamonds!!!!
  4. Once you have stitched the diamonds along the bottom, turn your canvas and stitch the pairs of rust-colored diamonds along the last side of the canvas.
  5. Begin adding the black Neon Rays using the following diagram. Please note that only the first number of the stitch is shown and that the entire border is not shown, just enough so that the pattern of the stitch is established. Work all of the way around the border by turning your canvas. Refer to the color photo for guidance.

  6. The third step will use Kreinik #16 Braid 021HL copper. The stitch is a basic backstitch, but it must be carefully executed so that you will not carry threads across the back of the canvas that will be seen through to the front! Follow the numbering system diagrammed on the following chart. All of the stitches meet in the center of the larger diamond that has been formed by the four smaller black and rust diamonds.

  7. The final step of the argyle inner border is to add the fourth color. It too is a backstitch that meets in the middle. The fourth thread, which is Kreinik #12 Braid 5001 brass key, is indicated by red lines in the diagram below.


The stem of the thistle is very simple to create. It is three lengths of Needle Necessities #8 pearl cotton laid in a channel of the canvas and securing it with elongated cross stitches using black NeonRays.

  1. The bottom of the stem begins 23 canvas threads above the center diamond at the bottom of the canvas. Refer to the cover photo. Anchor your thread by weaving it through the horizontal canvas threads in the channel above thread number 23.
  2. Bring the #8 pearl to the front of the canvas above canvas thread number 23 and lay it in the channel covering 77 canvas threads.
  3. arry the thread back down to the bottom (canvas thread 23), bring it to the front and lay another length on top of the first one. Repeat this procedure one more time so that you will have three length of thread lying in the same canvas channel.
  4. Secure the thread with an elongated cross stitch using black NeonRays. Refer to the diagram. There will be ten crosses on the stem.

GRASSES at the base of the THISTLE

  1. The adaptation of the leaf stitch has been used to represent the weeds and grasses that share the garden with the thistle. Begin stitching each element with Needle Necessities pearl following the chart below.
  2. Add the top three stitches of each element using rust NeonRays.

    Placement of grasses


  1. The sheep are stitched in a series of Smyrna crosses. The X stitch on the bottom of the Smyrna is stitched with light beige #8 pearl cotton. This part of the stitch is indicated by the tan lines on the diagram below.
  2. The gray lines on the diagram indicate the white (Anchor #8 pearl cotton) upright cross which is the second step of the Smyrna cross.
  3. The feet and tail are Smyrna crosses stitched with three strands of black floss.
  4. The face and ears of the sheep are satin stitched with four/five strands of black floss.
  5. Use the white pearl cotton to stitch the eyes in a one wrap French knot. You may want to substitute a bead.

    NOTE: The placement of the sheep on your canvas is diagrammed following the diagrams of the sheep.


The base of the thistle flower is stitched in a variation of the framed pavilion stitch (January), topped with turkeywork (August) and embellished with a few bullion knots (May).

  1. Begin by stitching the base of the flower following the chart below. Work in horizontal rows so that each unit of the pavilion has the right pull. Use black NeonRays. Place the base of the thistle at the top of the stem as indicated in the chart.

  2. Frame each unit of the pavilion stitch with rust (N29) Neon Rays.

  3. Add the stitch at the base of each pavilion unit. Use copper Kreinik (021HL).

  4. In the diagram below there is a triangular area outlined by a green line on the top of the thistle bud. This is the area that is to be filled in with turkey work. Baste the line onto your canvas with one strand of floss (any color). Use Needle Necessities #8 pearl overdye, woodland fantasy. Remember that you will be brushing and trimming the turkeywork quite a bit. The more you brush it, the fuller it gets! Sculpt the outside perimeter of the shape so that the edges are a little shorter than the center of the flower.

  5. At the top of the stem, just below the flower, there are six bullion knots, three on each side of the stem. The exact location is diagramed below. Use Needle Necessities #8 pearl. The two inner bullion knots (closest to the stem) should each be about 15 wraps long. The center knots should be 25 wraps and the outside bullion knots should be 35 wraps in length. Add the bullion knots after you have stitched the background.


  1. The bug can be placed anywhere on the canvas, but the chart below shows the location of the bug on the original piece. It is in the upper right hand corner. Refer to the cover photo.
  2. Begin by stitching the beaded body using the basketweave technique described in the October Stitch of the Month. Use one long strand of black floss, folded in half, to secure the beads.
  3. 3. Once the body has been stitched, backstitch the legs with three strands of floss.
  4. The head is a Smyrna knot stitched with three strands of floss.
  5. An additional black stitch is added to separate the two French knots that create the eyes. Use one wrap of white pearl cotton.


  1. The leaves of the thistles are mirror images of each other. They are stitched in two steps. Begin by stitching the outline with three strands of black floss using a wrapped backstitch (February SotM). The diagram below shows the placement of the leaves on the stem. It also charts the pattern that should be used for the backstitches before they are wrapped.

  2. Once the leaves have been wrapped, it is time to fill the interior with the woven Milanese variation (November SotM). So that the leaves are symmetrical, it is best to start in the middle with Needle Necessities 8130. Refer to the chart below. You will find that it is easiest to execute this stitch if you work with two needles.

  3. Lay three strands of black floss on top of the NN pearl cotton. You will have to snuggle your needle under the wrapped backstitch border.

  4. Add NN pearl cotton on top of the black floss to complete the Milanese stitch.


  1. The background is done in four steps. Before you begin, tighten your canvas on the stretcher bars. It is very important that your canvas is tight so that the threads lay correctly and that you will not have any problem counting the canvas threads. If your count is off you will become frustrated!
  2. Anchor a long (36") single strand of Soy Lustre, in the upper left hand corner argyle. Lay the thread on the diagonal (refer to chart) that begins at the canvas hole where the three copper stitches meet and carry it down to the thistle body.
  3. Catch the soy thread in the back of the thistle and bring it back up six canvas threads below.

  4. Continue to lay the soy thread on the diagonal, working your way around the canvas. You may notice that the laid threads line up with all of the points of the argyle border! When you are moving from one argyle point to the next, you can carry the thread along the back of the canvas (as indicated by the dotted arrow in the diagram above). The thread will be visible through the canvas, but will be covered in the last step of the background instructions.

  5. Once you have completed all of the diagonals that go from the upper left to the lower right hand side of the canvas, begin stitching the corresponding diagonals that begin in the upper right and travel to the lower left. There are two checks that insure that your stitches are correct. They must originate from the points of the argyles and the diagonals must intersect over a canvas hole.
  6. Using a single strand of Accentuate, secure each intersection with an upright cross. The quickest way to do this is to work up a diagonal stitching the vertical stitch of the upright cross. Then travel down the same diagonal stitching the horizontal stitch of the upright cross.

  7. The final step of the background is to fill each opening between the diagonals with a mosaic stitch using one strand of Soy Lustre. Please note that in the diagram below, the angle of the mosaic stitches alternate on every other diagonal row.

I hope that you have enjoyed stitching AUTUMN in the HIGHLANDS and perhaps you have picked up a few new techniques or stitches!!! If you have any questions or comments, please contact me by e-mail.

Portions of this Web site presenting information on this project may be printed or electronically reproduced by individual stitchers for their personal use and by ANG Chapters for use in their newsletters and Chapter activities. ANG Chapter republication of these pages should give credit to Stitch of the Month and ANG, Inc.