Have you realized what exciting things have been happening to needlepoint lately?

For years we've been doing this classic continental stitch, with its beautiful, smooth tapestry shadings; but now, we're taking off in all sorts of exciting new directions -- crewelpoint, plaidpoint, quiltpoint. In Florida, they're even doing something called "librapoint."

All sorts of combinations of pattern, texture and color have opened up a whole new world for us, from geometrics following the mesh of the canvas to stitches worked freely over the background without counting threads.

Needlepoint artists are reconsidering their canvas, looking upon it now much as a painter looks upon his canvas -- as a unique starting point for unlimited ideas.

You can collect all kinds of patterns just like recipes, "filing" them in a striped pillow. Too many colors might be overwhelming, so choose a palette of browns, beige, black and cream and combine alpaca, cashmere, pure silk, linen thread and even roving (unspun soft wool) with the needlepoint wool.

You can use leftovers from knitting or other neddlepoint since you won't be needing very much of any one color. Limiting the color scheme will allow you to go wild with your stitches and textures. Each new row will be an exciting discovery. Try out wide bands of flat stitches such as reverse tent (rows of basic needlepoint stitch worked slantingly in alternate directions), Gobelin (straight or slanting satin stitch), chain stitch, stem stitch and Roumanian.

Alternate these rows with couched roving. With one thread in the needle, stitch over the roving to hold it at regular intervals. You will find it makes an entirely different effect if you make a straight stitch or a slanting one, or even if you make cross stitches on top of the thick wool to hold it. But don't forget to leave the stitches fairly loose so that the roving stays thick and delicious -- almost like whipped cream.

Couching, as its name suggests, is a way of bleeding down a bundle of wool (or heavy single yarn) with a finer thread at regular intervals. Tuck it snugly down along the line and try out all sorts of combinations from kitchen string couched with cotton floss to gold metal thread couched with waxed sewing silk. You'll find this stitch is definitely the frosting on your textured stripe pillows.

Q: I have just gotten into needlepoint. I am now working on a cotton needlepoint and using DMC cotton thread. I saw someone else working on a cotton neddlepoint and using DMC mercerized cotton thread. Which thread is preferable? What are the advantages? When it comes to framing my needlepoint, is it best to use clear glass, glare-free glass or no glass at all?

Considering all the time and effort I am expending on this, I want to keep it for a while and not have it soiled in no time. There is quite a bit of dust where I live, and walls require regular cleaning.

All cotton floss is mercerized togive it sheen. Some are shiner than others. DMC is generally a highly polished thread which wears better and looks just like silk when it is worked.

When it comes to framing, it is best to use clear glass with separation between the glass and fabric. If you squash your stitches they will not be effective. Most needlewomen prefer the effect of their work without glass but in dusty areas you will preserve your labors if you protect them in this way -- and why shouldn't all the work be enjoyed years hence as well?