I'm writing from La Jolla, Calif., where an exciting needlework show I helped to judge was filled with inspirating ideas about framing needlepoint. What is it about the West Coast? They seem to be wonderfully adventurous and imaginative. Perhaps it helps to be in the midst of perpetual summer - or in this case of La Jolla, perpetual spring.

I think the secret of successful framing is to consider your project as a whole before you pick up your needle. It isn't just a matter of finishing your canvas and slapping a plain wood or steel fram around it - which is why I'm going to highlight three rather imaginative framing techniques I've just seen. You might not want to go quite so far, but perhaps these three examples will whet your appetite - nudging you in the direction of more exploration when it comes to your next stitching project. Make framing an integral part of the whole - instead of merely the "last stage" of a project.

One of the most dramatic pieces in the show was an art nouveau motif - a bare-shouldered lady in black, white and yellow, with tiny touches of scarlet in very clean lines of needlepoint. This was framed in a brushed satin-finish stainless steel square, mounted on a larger piece to mirror, in turn framed in the same brushed satin-finish steel. It set off the stitchery magnificently, giving a very elegant, very 1920s mirrored look to the project. The stitchery itself appeared to be almost suspended in space.

Another piece was softer but had an equally stunning effect. It was a beautiful Chinese-inspired needlework - pigeons amongst trees and blossoms. This was framed in rubbed gold bamboo, and was mounted on a larger piece of clear glass that was framed in the same bamboo. The total effect, again, was one of suspension - the needlework itself seemed to be floating.

The easiest why to achieve this feeling (or to explain it to your framer so he can) is to first frame a piece of glass or mirror 4 to 6 inches larger than your finished needlework. Then, before placing your needlework in an identical but smaller frame, drill two holes at each of the four corners (eight holes in all). To establish the position of these holes, draw a "mental" diagonal line across each corner, and place your holes at either end of this line. Put a long screw in each of the holes, so that they project through to the back of the frame. Now drill corresponding holes in the framed glass and allow your screws to project right through to the back of this. Then tightly wrap wire around each of these pairs of screws, secure each with a nut, if necessary, and there you have it - your framed needlework securely fastened to the framed glass behind.

The third project from the needlework show was, perhaps, the ultimate floater. It was a stylized Hindu dancing figure, done in the form of a large wall panel - so large that the young couple who worked it had to build a box on top of their VW to accommodate it so work could be done at school (they are teachers) as well as at home. The intriguing material used to make the frame was copper piping. The needlepoint was brought to the edge of the tubing and the tube itself was wrapped over and over with wool.

And that's what framing is all about - not fitting around your needlework, but fitting into it!

Q: I have three latch hook patterns completed (pillow size). Please let me know how to finish them to be used as throw pillows. They are now bound around with tape to prevent raveling.

A: You'll need a heavy fabric for backing - to balance the weight of your latch hooking. But you don't need any piping or binding, as that would not show beyond the tufts. Use cotton, velvet, velour or Haitian cotton - or even quickly "quick point" a square of needlepoint in rug wool.

Finally, seam this facing together with your latch hook - right sides facing - leaving one corner open. Turn it inside out, stuff with a muslin pillow from and stitch up the opening. When you stitch up the opening. When you stitch the right sides together, the fluffy tufts of your latch hooking may get in your way. Wide masking tape is a great help to temporarily hold the tufts flat on all four sides as you sew.