A digression: One of my favorite moments was contributing in various capacities to a Smithsonian exhibit of a crocheted coral reef, dedicated to bringing awareness to the destruction of reefs around the world. This project was special because it also tied to women in Mathematics (I have a math degree!) Hyperbolic models were previously expensive and fragile, and crocheting Mathematician Daina Taimiņa discovered these forms in her handiwork. Working on this project was so fun — making models, teaching people to crochet, staying in the Museum of Natural History late at night...and even getting to see the archives!
Penelope canvas is a style of needlepoint canvas that allows you to stitch at two different gauges - petit point and gros point. Rather than the typical mono canvas we're familiar with, the canvas is woven with two strands for each column and row. The larger gauge, gros point, is stitched by treating both strands as one. The smaller gauge, petit point, is achieved by stitching one strand individually.
- I must point you to this excellent blog post by Jeni Sandberg
- This Youtube video also shows how this canvas is stitched
Most Penelope cloth I've seen comes in either 20/10 gauge or 24/12 gauge. In the first case, you would either have 10 stitches per inch at gros point or 20 stitches per inch at petit point. I recommend stitching the background stitch gros point because we don't want to be stitching FOREVER.
Since most American stitchers are used to a 13 mesh or 18 mesh variety, many of our threads won't translate to a 10 gauge easily. I compiled some Penelope thread ideas here (and on this Instagram highlight):
- DMC Retours Mat Cotton
- DMC Tapestry Wool
- DMC Perle Cotton Size 3
- Appleton Tapestry Wool
- Appleton Crewel Wool (3 strands)
- Burmilana (5 strands)
- Anchor Wool
- Paternayan (3 strands)
- Brown Paper Packages Trio
- Elizabeth Bradley Tapestry Wool
You'll find that some of these threads leave some of the unbleached canvas peeking through—I like the canvas cleavage, and if you're using wool it gets fluffier over time and will fill in more. My personal favorite wool to use on Penelope is a pure tapestry wool—I'm not picky about the brand.
You can use a size 18 or 16 tapestry needle on Penelope, and I find it easier to find the size 18 needle.
Charting the Pattern
Reading a Chart
The way I've created the charts is so each square corresponds with a canvas intersection (on Penelope canvas, that means an intersection of 2 warp threads and 2 weft threads). I am planning a video to explain how to work from a chart, but in the meantime if you have any trouble, feel free to get in touch and I can help.
Here are some other resources:
Preparing the Canvas
If you choose to use a Penelope project, you might find it worth the time to prepare the canvas with the GG pattern before you start stitching. I recommend painting the pattern with acrylic paint (I like a 60/40 paint/water mix to make it glide easier) OR marking up the canvas with a Sakura Micron pen. I haven't done this for my project, and have to fix mistakes every once in a while. If that frustrates you, this prep might be worth it.
The other consideration is where to start the pattern so it is centered. For this, you can find the midpoint of your preworked design, and start the middle of the GG interlock where that line is.This is an optional step if you don't want to worry about centering it.
This is a community project that never ends—no deadlines, and no requirement to finish your project! Just enjoy the process and share as you go! Tag #guccialong @lastitcheria on Instagram so we can see your work!