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Many embroiderers prefer to describe this technique as ‘soft shading’ or ‘needle painting’.  From my perspective ‘long and short stitch’, and the polarity implied therein, pretty much sums it up.  It is: very simple and highly complex, dead easy and devilishly difficult, quick stitching that takes forever, meditatively repetitive work that demands constant vigilance and an eye to the whole picture.  I both love and hate it with a passion.

Progress with the poppy, so far:

Before you judge too harshly the quality of the color selection and placement, bear in mind that I flunked finger painting in preschool.  My classmates ended up with a large, colorful, sheet with which their parents could adorn the refrigerator door.  Mine was solid brown.  With swirls.



  1. While I cannot wear those shades of brown, those are the shades I choose for my house, soft rust, warm caramel, rich cream, and real dusky greens. I love it and know exactly what you mean by easy and difficult at the same time. To my untrained eyes it looks very very good, I can’t imagine how it will look when you work a price and are happy with the execution

    • At this point, I’m not sure that I will actually get there. Accepting new challenges is one thing; banging one’s head against a brick wall quite another. Unless I take the time to actively work on acquiring an artist’s eye, I will not get much further. One interesting thing is that the written instructions are turning out to not correspond to the photograph of the finished product and I am having to intuitively ‘wing it’ with color selection and placement.

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