Beginner’s Bargello

multi color modern bargello

I’m really excited about my newest finished needlepoint piece.

When I started this canvas in September, I was planning to make another geometric needlepoint purse, but none of my plans or patterns worked out. One seemed too heavy and dark, the other seemed too small and boring. So I scratched my plans and tried something completely different – bargello.

I’d been eyeing bargello needlepoint for years. There is something appealing and mathematical about it, like an M.C. Escher drawing, it draws you in and along, moving your eye through it.

I’d also been eyeing these modern-looking bargello pillows at Jonathan Adler. But of course, its one thing to admire something, but its another thing to try and re-create it. After a few false starts and repeated picking out of those erroneous stitches, I settled on an asymmetrical design I charted on a piece of graph paper. Next, I went to my bins of stashed yarn, pulled out heaps of colors.

jumble of needlepoint yarn

My final pattern consists of 5 and 3 block high bands, which move only in one direction – diagonally down, from right to left. It was only later that I read that the traditional Bargello unit is 4 stitches high. I stitched bands of 2-3 shades of the same color mixed together in a random order. I tried to put complimentary colors (e.g., purple and yellow, red and green) beside one another to highlight the transition between bands of color.

close up modern bargello


Of course, all this randomness requires careful organization and the bulk of my mental energy went into planning a sequence of colors that was consistently inconsistent. In the end, I was not so free and haphazard with color as I might have liked. While not being a repeating pattern, my piece comes very close – it is not quite consistent, i.e., consistently inconsistent.


I’m thrilled with my first attempt at bargello and I’m starting to understand the deep appeal it seems to have for many needlework ladies. Maybe next time, I’ll try something multi-directional, closer to this waves pattern pillow. But for now, all that’s left is to decide what to make of it: another purse? a lumbar pillow? any other ideas?

multi color bargello

8 thoughts on “Beginner’s Bargello

  1. Omg Elizabeth it is absolutely stunning!!! I Love the texture and the color variations. Great job designing this pice. I vote for a pillow so you can display they whole pice and you can admire the movement of the design.


  2. Wonderful! This is a style of needlepoint that I really love to see, but couldn’t work myself – I’m just not methodical enough and there’s something so reminiscent of the auras I see when a migraine starts in the patterns, I don’t think I could look at them long enough. But bargello is incredible. There’s an old house in Warwickshire – Packwood House, which has a room with whole walls decorated in bargello, plus the chairs – dates from the seventeenth century – quite a sight. I’m sure there are others too, it must have been the fashion years ago.


    1. I just googled “Packwood house, Bargello” and guess what popped up? Your post about it on Mists of Time. What a lovely place! and the Bargello room looks incredible. I will have to add it to my “someday when I make it over to the UK” list!


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