Coalbrookdale in Cross Stitch

Coalbrookdale - Detail

Coalbrookdale – Detail

Many years ago I used to design counted cross stitch kits, and did some for the Ironbridge Gorge Museum. I did think of turning a certain very famous picture into a kit, but since we never finished the test stitch, it is just as well they decided not to go with it.

This is something else we’ve found in a fit of tidying up, and thought,”hmm, we should finish that – it will look good!”

"Coalbrookdale By Night" by Philip James de Loutherberg. Copyright The Science Museum

“Coalbrookdale By Night” by Philip James de Loutherberg. Copyright The Science Museum

It was done in the early days of computer-aided cross stitch design. I scanned a postcard of “Coalbrookdale By Night”, in the somewhat apocalyptic vision of Philip James de Loutherberg, and then spent some time tweaking the number of colours the computer used to render the design as a cross stitch piece. One of the problems with this form of computer design was that, no matter how much human intervention was involved, the design tended to end up being a bit spotty.

Coalbrookdale Cross Stitch

Coalbrookdale Cross Stitch

You can see that spotty effect in the detail picture above.

The human intervention did at least result in the removal of the entirely superfluous lime green stitches that the computer package used to scatter across every design it was involved in. I never did understand why that happened, but the first change I always had to make was to change the lime green into something more suitable.

What I have to do now is think of something useful to turn it into when it’s finished….


  1. Lady Fi says:

    What a lovely and ambitious project!

  2. I’m impressed! I love the vibrant colours. Cushion cover??

  3. Cynthia says:

    Beautiful!! A friend of mine recently completed a cross stitch piece of a horse that she generated from a photograph. It came out absolutely beautiful, but she did have to make several changes in the colors from what the program told her to do. So the problem is still around, but maybe not as severe as what you encountered.

  4. Carolyn says:

    Computer Aided Design (CAD) can be limited by the software that you are using but then it can be great as well.

  5. Anita says:

    It’s beautiful! you did this before the computer aided design days? wow! I’m impressed Rachel.

  6. It is lovely, I hope you finish it and keep it as a memento of the work you used to do at that time.

  7. Susan says:

    That really is different and very interesting. Funny that lime green was the sprinkled color! Standing back from the piece, of course it doesn’t look spotty at all. I wish I could see this one in person.

  8. Meredithe says:

    Wow! That’s an amazing skill and a great looking cross stitch. The colours are fabulous.

  9. Sue Jones says:

    An ambitious project – turning that picture into a kit. Too much detail and too many flowing colours. It would need to be a very, very large kit to give the full effect. (Life’s too short!) As you’re not telling us the size, I can’t suggest a use for the finished result. But it would make a colourful splash as a cushion.

  10. Mam says:

    It’s remarkable how much of the detail you can pick out when the stitching and the painting are together and the same size. The two men in the foreground are there and the house in the light on the right hand side. Maybe a few lines of backstich will help.

  11. Penny Baugh says:

    Oh my, this is BEAUTIFUL. I used to do counted cross stitch – many years ago. What a marvelous stitchery this will make. Perhaps it deserves a frame?

  12. Lin says:

    Lovely project – the colours are gorgeous. Not much to do. xx

  13. Catherine says:

    Wow that’s gorgeous! Such vibrant colours, and the computer did a good job of interpreting it, even if it had a strange liking for lime green.
    Do you still design cross stitches? I’m sure the computers have improved on this front over the years! Can’t wait to see it finished.

  14. Karen says:

    I absolutely love the last image, the colours and depth of the piece. It’s stunning Rachel.

  15. This is looking wonderful, a brilliant subject to choose too.