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An education in color theory and stitch variation – part I

I knew I wanted to spend a little time on this blog talking about a big needlework project I did some time ago and all that I learned from it.  It might take two or three posts for me to share everything that I want to about this.  But, I do need to start with a pretty big disclaimer.  I will be talking about this:


It is a self-published pattern book (it is not numbered in the traditional sense, but I’m guessing at least 150 pages), spiral bound, titled From Molehill to Mountain by Pamela H. Gardner.  According to the papers I have inside my copy, I purchased this in 2004.  A Google search just now lead me to a dead end.  The website listed in here no longer works; a review of this book from 2010 shows a different website and that one no longer works either.  There does not seem to be any place to get this book from at this time – it is not listed anywhere, in any store that I can find.  I wish it were different.  I know sometimes when I am reading a blog and the person is talking about a book or a pattern and I get so excited, I get so excited.  I want to go NOW and get a copy.  I simply don’t know where to lead you.  If anyone knows Pamela H. Gardner who wrote this amazing work or knows how to get in touch with her, please let me know!  Let’s see if she has anymore to sell.  I absolutely remember that I purchased directly from her.

Okay, disclaimer over.  Let’s talk about the education one can get from doing a needlework project.

I believe I saw either a review or an ad for this book, with a picture of the front cover in either the EGA (Embroiderer’s Guild of America) or ANG (American Needlepoint Guild) magazine.  I certainly had an interest in counted canvas work at that time.  I was intrigued with the subtitle “A study in stitch variation.”  I may or may not have also know before I purchased it that it was also a color theory education at the same time.

When I got the book in hand and read the introduction, the meaning of the title was clear – the author had started with a small idea of a teaching lesson with her fellow guild members and it ballooned over the course of nearly two years into this mammoth – and stunning – project.  Hence, going from a “molehill” to a “mountain.”

It was also immediate apparent that there were two directions to go when choosing threads and colors.  You could tackle the project with picking a strong overdye thread (meaning, an overdye with multiple colors in one skein) and chose other colors based on that (as shown on the front cover image).  Or, you could pick a solid color and work through the project based on terminology of color theory (an example shown on the back of the book).


Yes, that was the way I was going to go.  Solid color.

Now, I certainly knew the words “complementary colors” and the basics of a color wheel, probably from art classes in school.  But these other chapters:  analogous colors? triadic colors? split complementary? double complementary?  I don’t know.  Those terms are definitely part of my knowledge now, probably because of this project.

I got a color wheel from the local craft store.  Yup, there were all those words in the center. I learned that double complementary was just another name for tetrad colors.


Here is a sneak peek of part of my finished work.


Yes, the solid color I chose here is purple.  If you know any color theory, can you see how, complementary, analogous, triadic, split complementary, and double complementary colors come into play?  What about the whole stitch variation part of this project – can you see that?  Clearly, more to come of this story.

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