Basketweave and Weird Shapes

by , on
Nov 15, 2018
Florentine Bauble by Kirk and Bradley Designs

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…

Kirk and Bradley Florentine Bauble in Red/Sage


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… 😉

Pour yourself a nice warm cuppa...


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!

Stitch "up the steps" and "down the poles" when working in diagonal tent stitch.


Now, when you stitch “up the steps” and “down the poles” your work will look much nicer for two reasons…


"Apple Sampler" by Birds of a Feather stitched in diagonal tent stitch (a.k.a. basketweave).

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…


"Florentine Bauble" by Kirk and Bradley Designs

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!)

And please join us in the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook group. That’s where the Serendipity girlfriends gather online and I’d love to have you as part of our Circle of Friends.

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!

Stitch with a smile!




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.

Fall Inspiration

by , on
Oct 25, 2018
There's a crispness in the air and the trees are beginning to turn in Tuscaloosa.

Hello there, lovely!

We’re at the end of October and I just can’t believe it, can you?! The trees are beginning to change colors here in Alabama and it looks like we’re going to have a beautiful fall.

Cooler weather is finally here, too. In fact, we turned the heat on this past weekend and I brewed my first cup of hot apple cider tea just yesterday morning.

My first cup of Hot Apple Cider Tea of the season.

We’re settling into the cozy season here at my house…

and that means pulling out the hand-knit blankies and my grandmother’s quilts, the cinnamon spice candles, and, of course, the electric tea kettle. I love a warm tasty cuppa in the morning when the temperature drops.

How about you? What’s your favorite cold weather beverage? Hot tea and hot chocolate are my favorites.

I went to the Farmer’s Market earlier this week and found myself in an explosion of fall color.

Bright yellow mums, vivid orange pumpkins, ruby red apples, golden bales of hay – signs of fall everywhere!

It's pumpkin season at the Farmer's Market.


That reminds me – there’s a charming fall-inspired design by Julie Mar that I shared with you earlier (maybe over on Facebook or Instagram?) and I’m about to start it. (squeeee!!!)

I thought I had all the threads I needed, but I changed my mind about some of them. Do you ever do that?

Here are a few of the threads I’m going with now…

This canvas by Julie Mar vividly captures fall in the Appalachian mountains.

I can hardly wait to dive into stitching this happy canvas! It’s getting my full attention – right after I wrap up the project I’m doing for the spring issue of Making magazine.

I already have some ideas whirling around in my head for what I’m going to do. I’ll share some of my notes – and my progress –  with you when I start. 😊

And if you want to see my progress on the Tuscaloosa canvas, just click here. I’m nearly finished with it!

Before I go, there’s a little housekeeping  I want to share with you, too.

There are now two free Serendipity Needleworks Facebook groups…

one for needlepoint and embroidery and one for knitting and crochet. (I’d love to have you join me in one – or both – if you aren’t already a member. Just click the link(s) above to hop over and request to join.)

I added the new yarn group so you’ll have a place to gather with other kindred spirits who share your love of knitting and crochet – and so that you’re receiving the best in curated content for your favorite hobby.

I’ll be hosting FB Lives every Thursday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. Central time in our Serendipity Needleworks groups, beginning next month!

Here’s the schedule for November…

  • Needlepoint/Embroidery Group – November 8th
  • Knitting/Crochet Group – November 15th
  • Thanksgiving Surprise – November 22nd
  • Needlepoint/Embroidery – November 29th

Finally, NeedleNotes will be delivered on Thursdays, beginning
November 8.

That means there won’t be an issue of NeedleNotes or a blog post next week.

In the meanwhile, have a wonderful rest of your day and Happy Stitching!

Stitch with a smile!



PS: What do you do to cozy up your house for fall and winter? Tell me in the comments box below and I’ll add your name to the drawing for an exclusive Serendipity Needleworks needle minder. I can’t wait to hear from you! ❤️

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