Revisiting needlepoint stitch pathways
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Last week, we chatted about needlepoint stitch pathways and some questions have popped up, so I thought we’d take a look at some examples here today. Before we dive in though, let’s do a quickie review of what a needlepoint stitch pathway is. Simply put, it’s the order in which you execute each part of a stitch or stitch pattern.

Let’s take a peek at those different kinds of stitch pathways again.

  • Satin
  • Running
  • Double Running
  • Backstitch
  • Run & Back
  • Conservative

And we’ll start with the kind that you’ll find yourself using the most often…

Satin Stitch Pathways

With this type of pathway, you’ll have as much thread on the backside of your canvas as you do on the front. That’s because you’re working in a circular motion around the canvas threads as you make your way across (or down) a row. The stitches sit side by side on your canvas, as in the example I shared with you last week – the upright Gobelin.

And here’s another stitch with a satin stitch pathway that you might be familiar with…

The Byzantine stitch is a really good example of a satin needlepoint stitch pathway.

Study the stitch diagram above and pay particular attention to the circular motion of the stitch pathway – 1 to 2 to 3 to 4, etc. Pull out a doodle canvas and try it for yourself, so you can experience that circular movement for yourself, too.

Now, let’s look at…

Running Stitch Pathways

Have you ever used a darning pattern on one of your needlepoint canvases? If you have, then you’ve used a running stitch pathway. The running stitch pathway uses an up and down forward advancing motion.

Here’s a stitch diagram that illustrates the running stitch pathway…

The simple darning stitch is a terrific example of a running needlepoint stitch pathway.

Grab that doodle canvas again and give this one a try.

Next up…

Double Running Stitch Pathways

This kind of pathway is one in which a single row of stitches is executed in two passes – across and back – to complete the row.

You can see it in action here on the alternating oblong cross stitch…

The alternating oblong cross stitch is an example of the double running needlepoint stitch pathway.

The double running stitch pathway is a little more complex than the first two, so give it a test run on your doodle canvas. It’ll make a lot more sense after you try it yourself.

Moving right along, let’s take a closer look at…

Backstitch Pathways

So, what’s the scoop on the backstitch pathway? It’s really very simple. Just like with the satin stitch pathway, you’re working in a circular motion around the canvas threads.

But here’s the difference – stitches in a backstitch pathway lay end to end instead of beside one another.

In fact, the backstitch (yes, it’s a stitch, too!) is about the best example of this kind of needlepoint stitch pathway.

Here’s the diagram for you…

The backstitch is a good example of a backstitch needlepoint stitch pathway.

Test it out on your doodle canvas to get a feel for the backstitch needlepoint stitch pathway.

Alrighty – now let’s take a peek at…

Run & Back Stitch Pathways

This needlepoint stitch pathway is a “composite” pathway – it combines the running stitch pathway with the backstitch pathway to create an entirely different stitch pathway.

The “frame” that is worked around the diamond pavilion stitch is an excellent example of a run & back needlepoint stitch pathway. The green stitches represent the “frame” portion of the stitch pattern in the diagram below. If you look closely, you’ll notice that 1 – 2 is the “run” portion and 3 – 4 is the “back” portion.

Again, use your doodle canvas to test it out for yourself. There’s always learning in the “doing”. 😉

And that, my friend, brings us to the last of the needlepoint stitch pathways…

Conservative Stitch Pathways

To conserve means to save and when you use a conservative stitch pathway, you leave very little thread on the backside of your canvas. It’s the antithesis of the satin stitch pathway.

If you’ve taken my Needlepoint Made Easy online course, you know that diagonal tent stitch (aka, basketweave) uses the largest quantity of thread (of the three variations of tent stitch) and that it creates a very solidly interwoven mesh of threads on the back of your canvas. That’s what makes it so durable. 😉

Conversely, the half-cross variation of tent stitch uses the least amount of thread (of all the tent stitch variations) and it leaves the least amount of thread on the backside of your canvas. Hence, the half-cross tent stitch is a good example of a conservative stitch pathway. (NOTE: It’s also the least durable of the three variations – eek!)

Here’s the diagram for you…


Give this one a whirl on your doodle canvas, too. Then you’ll have a handy little sampler of each kind of needlepoint stitch pathway as a reference tool.

I hope you’ll join me on Thursday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. CDT for this week’s live broadcast over on the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook page. We always have oodles of fun chatting about all things needlepoint. 🙂

And if you aren’t already a member of the Serendipity Needleworks Facebook group, click here to join us. It’s free and we have a terrific time sharing ideas, encouraging each other, and getting inspired by all the beautiful projects that everyone is working on.

Okey dokey – that’s all for now, my friend.

Until next time, happy stitching…

Stitch with a smile!

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  1. Susan Coombs

    October 22, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Thank you so much! As a beginner, the pathways series has been very helpful.
    Kind regards, Susan

    • Ellen Johnson

      October 29, 2019 at 7:10 am

      Hi Susan!
      Thank you for your kind words. 🙂
      I’m so glad you found my blog posts helpful. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I’m here for you!


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