Your Stitching is Off the Charts: Working from Books

Long before canvas printing was perfected, charts were used as a guide for stitchers to follow.  Each square of colour on a chart represents a stitch on the canvas.  By following a chart and counting the squares of the grid, stitchers are able to precisely copy a design onto blank canvas. 

Today, our kits come with a precision printed canvas but each still includes a chart card that can be referenced to aid with exact colour placement. Many stitchers also enjoy working directly from the charts found in our three books written by Liz. Each book comes with a wealth of charted designs original to the Elizabeth Bradley archives, a list of wool shades for each specific design and stitching tips to help with the process. If you are looking for a challenge, working from a chart is the perfect way to expand upon your skills. Once you have selected a design, you will need to make sure you have the correct materials to get started.  

First, you will need to calculate the size of the canvas you will use. We stock blank 10-count interlock canvas in 3 sizes - 10”, 20”, & 1 metre cuts. To determine which size you need, measure the stitched design area by counting around the perimeter of the chart. Every ten squares equals an inch. You will need to leave at least 2” of blank space around the design for finishing or if you intend to use a frame.

Next, you will find a list of the thread colours and quantities specific to the design. To convert the reference colour shown in the book to our current wool numbers, use the wool conversion tool available on our website. More experienced stitchers may find it fun to change colour palettes and explore additional background options. Each colour quantity is listed in yards - you will need to divide the total to find whether you need multiples of 10-yard cards or 60-yard hanks. 

Finally, some stitchers choose to magnify the chart so they can ensure they are working tight areas correctly. You can easily read your chart if you take a picture with your cell phone, then zoom in on the exact area to see it in better detail. 

Once you have your materials and chart, you are ready to start stitching. Share your creations with us by tagging us in your social media posts!


I have always used the chart as the colours on canvas can look too similar when working in poor lighting
Also you can redo your favourites as often as you like if you have the charts
The only wish I have is that the chart had the colour noted as some of the much older charts are problematic to match even with the wool charts
I also recommend sorting the colours before starting as some charts use very close colours
I particularly found this to be true when doing one of my favourites the hydrangeas where a lot of blues are very closely matched
Wonderful kits though have done very many of them over the years

June Elstob March 29, 2021

I have never followed a pattern but always worked from charts. I have all three books and have done many of the charts in those books. I think that they give a much clearer pic than following apattern.

Carol March 29, 2021

I have only ever used the charts to stitch kits. No wonder it takes me so long to complete one!

Tina March 29, 2021

I have 2 of the books and have used them extensively. Amongst other things, I did all 4 of the seasons samplers from the charts in them, though I did them on Aida using embroidery thread rather than wool. They now have pride of place on my sitting room wall and are much admired.

Sally Elves March 29, 2021

Just got a present of a book going to try to do one from a chart when I finished my squirrel kit

Patricia Gallivan March 29, 2021

Es macht sehr viel Spaß aus den Büchern zu arbeiten. Die Wolle ist so super zum versticken

Jutta Rupprecht March 29, 2021

Love this article. I’m not terribly experienced in wool cross stitch, and have taken it up due to age and poorer eye sight – I used to do counted cross stitch on linen and 16 count aida canvas. Having bought a couple of EB kits I find the printed canvas a little irritating (in spite of loving the designs), so having a book of William Morris tapestry designs I have bough EB canvas and done just as the blog suggests. The fascination is seeing the design grow under my fingers as I stitch…’s much more rewarding and compulsive than following a printed design, and the cross stitch so much more satisfying than tent, or other tapestry stitches.

Elizabeth Bosworth March 29, 2021

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