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The Five Basic Types of Needlepoint Stitches

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Author: Carolyn McNeil

One of most confusing aspects of learning needlepoint is deciphering the many stitches that are available. If you are working from a kit, it generally isn't a problem. Each kit will specify which stitches should be used and where. However, if you are creating your own project from scratch, where do you go to get help? At needlepoint stitches are separated by type and each stitch is explained and demonstrated. The following is a breakdown of the types of stitches available:

Cross Stitches are probably the most popular type of stitch used today. Crossed Stitches are a principal stitch used in needlepoint tapestry. They are exactly what the name implies - stitches that are created by crossing the threads over each other. The size of the crossed stitch can vary, depending on the thickness of the thread and the gauge of the canvas. It is important, however, to make sure that each crossed stitch covers the canvas. A few examples of crossed stitches are the cross stitch (obviously), fishbone stitch, herringbone stitch and waffle stitch. There are, however, many, many more...

Straight Stitches, again, are exactly what the name implies - straight stitches! These stitches are worked either vertically or horizontally on canvas. They look best when worked on single canvas. They are a great stitch for working large pieces of canvas. However, do not create a stitch that is too long. Some of the more popular straight stitches are the long stitch (aka straight stitch), florentine stitch (aka bargello), and the back stitch.

Diagonal Stitches are stitches that are worked, yes you guessed it, diagonally (at a slant). It is especially important to maintain an even tension when working diagonal stitches. This will help prevent your canvas from warping. Some of the more popular diagonal stitches include: the diagonal stitch (you probably saw that one coming), the basketweave stitch(aka tent stitch) and the continental stitch. Again there are many, many more diagonal stitches available.

Composite Stitches are stitches that use more than one type of stitch. Composite stitches are generally large. Because of this, the yarn may not always cover the canvas completely. To help remedy this, try not to pull the yarn too tight when making the stitches. Some composite stitches include the star stitch (aka the algerian eye stitch), the leaf stitch, and the triangle stitch, plus many more.

Looped Stitches are also called "Pile Stitches". All of these stitches create a texture with a 3-D look. The pile surface is created by the loops contained in the stitches. Some stitches remain with the loops intact, some require the loops be cut. Although looped stitches are generally used in rug making, they may also be used in any needlepoint project that requires a 3-D or "pile" look. Some of the more interesting looped stitches include the loop stitch, the shell stitch (a very exciting stitch) and the velvet stitch. Again, there are many more available.

These are the main types of stitches available today. The final decision of which stitches to incorporate into your piece will depend on the gauge of the canvas/material you are working on and the type of yarn/thread you are working with. However, we can discuss that subject at another time...

About the author: Carolyn McNeil, creator of encyclopedia of needlepoint stitches...

Stitchopedia is an instructional site that demonstrates needlepoint stitches including straight, cross, looped, composite,

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