The Decorative Rhodes Needlepoint Stitch & 7 Variations

  • 01 of 09

    The Versatile Rhodes Stitch for Needlepoint

    Rhodes Stitch Variations
    Rhodes Stitch Variations. Althea R. DeBrule

    The Rhodes Stitch one of the most flexible as well as highly decorative textured needlepoint stitches. This handy stitch pattern can be worked individually, in groups or in rows for added effect.

    Created by British needlepoint designer, Mary Rhodes, the elaborate, but simple stitch is quite popular for use in bringing hand-painted needlepoint canvases to life. While the basic Rhodes needlepoint stitch is square, it can also be worked in different variations including:

    • Rhodes Heart
    • Rhodes Diamond
    • Rhodes Octagon
    • Rhodes Circle
    • Rhodes Sheaf
    • Rhodes Clover or Shamrock
    • Rhodes Star

    If you study the stitch diagrams closely, you will see that no matter the variation, each Rhodes Stitch is worked in the same manner by stitching long spokes around a shape or central points of a needlepoint canvas area.

    Needlepoint Stitches in 3-D

    The spokes of a completed Rhodes Stitch twist over or under each each other to form intricate and unusual motifs that can either stand alone as a separate item or further enhance an already defined needlepoint design element.

    Because of their three-dimensional quality, Rhodes Stitches can be worked first with background elements filled in around them; or with the background completed first, and then the Rhodes Stitches superimposed on top of previously stitched areas.

    Continue to 2 of 9 below.
  • 02 of 09

    The Basic Rhodes Needlepoint Stitch

    Basic Rhodes Needlepoint Stitch Diagram
    Basic Rhodes Needlepoint Stitch Diagram. Cheryl C. Fall

    The Basic Rhodes Stitch is easy to learn because it is worked in a square pattern of long stitches. The size of the stitch depends on the number of canvas mesh intersections crossed; however because it is quite chunky when finished, most Rhode Stitches do not cross more than 24 canvas mesh threads at one time--either vertically or horizontally.

    Here's how to make it. Use the above stitch diagram as a guide.

    1. Bring the needle up through the canvas at position (1) and cross the desired number of canvas mesh threads to place one long vertical stitch as you go down at position (2), directly opposite position (1).
    2. Come up through the canvas at position (3), to the left of the stitch you have just made and repeat Step 1 to go down at position (4).
    3. Continue to work around the square in the same manner coming up, crossing over and going down through all positions until all holes around the edges of the square have been filled.
    Continue to 3 of 9 below.
  • 03 of 09

    The Rhodes Heart Stitch

    Rhodes Heart Technique Stitch Diagram
    Rhodes Heart Technique Stitch Diagram. Cheryl C. Fall

    When worked in a heart shape, the Rhodes Stitch looks like an elegant padded or puffed heart, like you would see on a necklace chain. It is worked by placing a long stitch to the left of the center of the heart; and then continuing to work the pattern as for the basic technique. Here's how:

    1. Follow the Step 1 for the Basic Rhodes to place the first stitch, and then working clockwise, move up one hole diagonally each time to make the next 3 stitches.
    2. Level off to work 3 more stitches vertically, and then following the stitch diagram, continue to work around the heart, stepping down or up as the image indicates. Skip the center stitch and save it for last.
    3. Work a straight long stitch for the last one by indenting one hole below those at the top and stepping down an additional hole at the bottom.
    Continue to 4 of 9 below.
  • 04 of 09

    Rhodes Diamond

    Rhodes Diamond Stitch Diagram
    Rhodes Diamond Stitch Diagram. Cheryl C. Fall

    Turn the Basic Rhodes Stitch at an angle and you have the diamond variation! Instead of working from left to right around a square, you will work in the same manner but stepping up diagonally around the canvas to form the diamond shape.

    Since all Rhodes Stitches are made the same way, just remember to start one canvas hole left of the center and work around, following the stitch pattern chart, until no empty holes remain.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Rhodes Octagon - Rhodes Round - Rhodes Circle

    Rhodes Octagon-Round Needlepoint Stitch Diagram
    Rhodes Octagon-Round Needlepoint Stitch Diagram. Cheryl C. Fall

    The Rhodes Stitch can be worked as an Octagon, in a Round Shape or Circle (the names are interchangeable). When worked in a round shape, the stitch can be simplified to fill in only a few holes instead of the more distinctive octagon shape.

    This Rhodes variation was used in the Leaf Quartet Needlepoint Pattern for the white circles separating the leaf sections; and the Chunky Spring Bird Pattern in the colored circles around the outer border.

    The easiest way to make this stitch is to draw the shape on the canvas first, and then work the Rhodes Octagon in the same manner as the Basic Rhodes around the outline.

    Continue to 6 of 9 below.
  • 06 of 09

    Rhodes Clover and Shamrock

    Rhodes Clover-Shamrock Needlepoint Stitch Diagram
    Rhodes Clover-Shamrock Needlepoint Stitch Diagram. Cheryl C. Fall

    The Rhodes Stitch worked as a Clover and Shamrock uses the Rhodes Heart variation with stems that can be worked in backstitch or outline stitch. The highly decorative stitch is usually worked as a stand-alone motif in metallic braid or other novelty needlepoint thread.

    Use the stitch diagram above to make three or four-leaf clover designs on a plain tent stitch background for St. Patrick's Day or spring needlepoint projects. Follow the steps for the Rhodes Heart to complete each shamrock.


    Continue to 7 of 9 below.
  • 07 of 09

    Rhodes Star

    Rhodes Star Needlepoint Stitch Diagram
    Rhodes Star Needlepoint Stitch Diagram. Cheryl C. Fall

    The Rhodes Stitch worked as a Star can be made in two ways–as a basic star or an elongated one. No matter the variation you choose, the Rhode Star is a striking addition to a Christmas skyline or Nativity needlepoint project.

    Use the simple stitch chart to make each star and remember to follow the same steps as the Basic Rhodes Stitch to complete each motif.

    Continue to 8 of 9 below.
  • 08 of 09

    Rhodes Sheaf and Half Rhodes

    Rhodes Sheaf Needlepoint Diagram
    Rhodes Sheaf Needlepoint Diagram. Cheryl C. Fall

    The Rhodes Stitch worked as a Sheaf looks like a bunch of wheat that has just been harvested. To work as a Half Rhodes, eliminate the small horizontal stitch at the center of the stitch cluster.

    Next to the Basic Rhodes, this is probably the easier of the remaining variations to work. It can be stitch easily over as many multiples of 4 threads as you like, especially if you plan to tack down the center of the sheaf bundle.

    There are no special turns or steps to make when working this simple Rhodes technique.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Rhodes Pinwheel

    Rhodes Pinwheel Needlepoint Diagram
    Rhodes Pinwheel Needlepoint Diagram. Cheryl C. Fall

    There are many ways to use the Rhodes Stitch in a needlepoint project. Here, worked as a Pinwheel, it gives three-dimensional motion to a needlepoint design.

    This variation is also a great way to highlight abstract and geometric needlepoint compositions. But a word of caution: the finished pinwheel will be quite bulky unless you use light weight thread.

    The trick to making successful Rhodes Pinwheel stitches is to work the background pinwheel first and then work the second one so that it easily fits over the first one. Use the Rhodes Sheaf as a guide when working the individual pinwheels.

    Updated by Althea R. DeBrule