Rhodes stitch instructions and variations

Square rhodes - Rhodes heart - Rhodes diamond
rhodes stitches

Found in both needlepoint and counted thread embroidery Rhodes stitch adds texture and a 3-dimensional effect to your needlework.  

It is versatile and can be worked over 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 canvas threads and in a variety of shapes.

The stitch forms a bump in the center where the threads cross over each other. If you are using multiple Rhodes stitches in one project, it is important to begin each Rhodes stitch from the same starting place so that the top stitch lays at the same angle throughout the work. This way the light will catch all the stitches in the same way.

Try using different types of thread; thick or thin, matt or shiny. The stitch looks especially lovely in silk or rayon. When using these threads, you may find a laying tool useful.

Using variegated or hand-dyed fibres can also give a lovely effect.


Square rhodes stitch

Square rhodes stitch diagram

The diagram above shows how to complete the basic stitch.

When you finish the stitch numbered 17-18 just continue in the same manner until you reach the end. The diagram shows the stitch worked over six threads.

The square Rhodes in the photo at the top of the page were worked over eight canvas threads. 

Rhodes heart stitch

Diagram for stitching a rhodes heart
A row of three rhodes heart stitches

By using different holes around the outside of the stitch, you can produce various shaped Rhodes. The heart is especially attractive.

Always start with the stitch numbered 1-2 so that the last stitch will be vertical when working the hearts.

The photograph shows small Rhodes hearts in a border where the stitches 5-6 and 7-8 touch. You could vary this by dropping the position of each alternate Rhodes heart stitch. The hearts in the photo were worked over 6 threads as per the diagram.

Diamond Rhodes Stitch

diamond rhodes stitch

The stitch can also be worked in a diamond shape.

In the photo above the first vertical stitch covers eight canvas threads and then each each subsequent stitch uses a hole diagonal to the previous one. 

diamond rhodes diagram

The two photos show Rhodes diamonds as used in my downloadable Textures To Dye For pattern called Hope.  

Needlepoint design, Hope, showing purple rhodes stitches worked in ribbon
Needlepoint design, Hope, showing rhodes diamond stitches in sparkly thread

The purple piece uses a rayon ribbon to give a solid, chunky appearance, whereas the pink version uses a fine metallic thread to add sparkle to the design. 

Half Rhodes Stitch

You can work just half of the stitch, side by side to produce a similar result to the photo below. I think they look like little bow ties. I used Danish tapestry wool for this example. 

half rhodes stitches

Worked in alternate colours you can create a checkerboard pattern as below. 

two coloured rhodes stitch part 1

You could then choose to work the second half in the opposite colour, to complete each square Rhodes block. 

two coloured rhodes stitch part 2

If you alternately stagger your starting point for each half Rhodes stitch you will get the effect shown in the next photo. 

half rhodes stitch dropped

Stitching multiple rows in this manner will result in small diamond-shaped gaps between each. 

two rows of staggered half rhodes stitch

These can be filled with an upright cross stitch. In the photographed example below I used two strands of crewel wool in red and Danish tapestry wool in dark green on single thread canvas. This makes an attractive overall pattern when repeated. 

You could also choose to work tent stitch in the gaps, or even attach a bead

half rhodes stitch dropped filled with upright cross stitch

I hope this introduction has helped you see the versatility of the Rhodes stitch.

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