Have you ever been stumped by how to work a diagonal tent stitch (a.k.a. basketweave) background around a bunch of weird shapes? Or even how to stitch those irregular shapes in the first place? Well, fret no more! I’m here to help – and I’ll share some tips that you can use on canvases both large and small.
Below is a picture of “Florentine Bauble” by Kirk and Bradley. It’s a really good example of a piece that has oodles of stopping and starting on it.
I’m working it entirely in basketweave so you can see how I tackle the “trouble spots”. Ready to dive in? Terrific!
Let’s get started…
First, apply that good ole mnemonic device “up the steps and down the poles” when you’re stitching.
And when I say “apply”, I mean really and truly stitch that way.
Every. Single. Time.
You see, when you do that, you can start and stop anywhere on your canvas and, eventually, all your stitches will mesh together seamlessly.
What’s that? You don’t know how to read your canvas?
No worries… I’ll help you!
But, before we go any further (and especially if you’re new to needlepoint), you might want to click here to hop over and read about the different kinds of needlepoint canvas.
Go ahead – I’ll just have a cup of tea while I wait for you… 😉
Gee – that was quick!
Ready to dive into how to read your needlepoint canvas now?
Needlepoint canvas is a plain weave open grid fabric. You can see how the individual canvas threads weave over and under each other in the picture below.
The blue marks indicate where the horizontal threads are on top of the intersections where the threads meet.
They kinda look like little steps, don’t they? And that’s where “up the steps” comes from.
The red marks show where the vertical threads are on top of the intersections where the threads crisscross.
And they kinda look like those poles that firemen slide down to get to their firetruck – hence, “down the poles”.
Are you with me so far? Terrific!
Now, when you stitch “up the steps” and “down the poles” your work will look much nicer for two reasons…
First, you’ll get better coverage and your stitches will look more uniform because you’re stitching with the grain of the canvas.
And second, stitching “up the steps” and “down the poles” helps stabilize the canvas intersections so your piece doesn’t get all wonky. (That’s one of the biggest benefits of using basketweave.)
Oh – and I almost forgot this one… when you stitch “up the steps” and “down the poles”, you won’t accidentally stitch two rows in the same direction and end up with a yucky ridge on the front of your work. (Alternating the direction that you stitch each row keeps that from happening.)
So, I guess that’s actually more than two reasons. 🙂
Alrighty, back to stitching our Florentine Bauble in basketweave…
I’m working my lightest colors first. This is one of those oddball shapes that can really throw you for a loop when you’re working in basketweave. It’s hard to know exactly where to begin, isn’t it?
My best suggestion is to find the longest continuous diagonal row that you can work. Stitch that row first, and then use it as your “jumping off” place for working the rest of the area.
You’ll have to carry your thread across the back in a few places, but as long as you don’t carry it across more than half an inch (or 3 – 4 canvas threads) it’ll be fine.
Next time, we’ll take a peek at working a section of the background in basketweave.
Do you have a canvas that’s giving you fits right now?
Tell me about it in the comments box below.
I have another needle minder that I’d like to gift to someone this month, so every time you leave a note in the comments box, I’ll enter your name in the November drawing. 🙂 (squeeeee – I just ❤️ giving things away!)
If you’re not getting NeedleNotes every week, click here to add your name to the list right away. I don’t want you to miss anything! (And yes – I share some extra special goodies just with my subscribers.)
Alrighty – that’s all for now.
Until next time, happy stitching!
PS: Our October winner of the Serendipity Needleworks needle minder is Laraine Croall. Congratulations Laraine – and thank you ALL for sharing your thoughts with me.