The needlepoint basketweave stitch is all about steps and poles. For a refresher on this, read our blog post about the basics of doing a needlepoint basketweave stitch.
The diagonal rows of basketweave are stitched in an ascending direction when your canvas intersections are steps and a descending direction when the intersections are poles. You climb the steps and slide down the poles.
In this blog post we're bringing the needlepoint basketweave stitch into real life and learning how to work around the various shapes and motifs on your canvas.
Maintaining the 'up the steps and down the poles' pattern is particularly important when you are stitching a basketweave background around multiple design elements.
Let’s see how this plays out on a small sample design...
In the image above, the background needlepoint basketweave stitching starts in the upper right-hand corner and proceeds until it reaches the purple rectangle.
It's tempting to run threads across the back of the unstitched rectangle, but if you want a perfect needlepoint basketweave stitch then try to avoid this because fibers may pull through when you stitch the purple.
So, you need to pick a side! Continue stitching around whichever side of the shape that your steps and poles pattern dictates. In this case it is the left side.
Stitch until you reach the bottom left-hand corner of the rectangle and stop (secure your thread and start again in the next area).
Start your next thread at the upper right-hand side of the rectangle. Note that this is a pole row, so start your thread at the top so that you maintain the pattern.
Notice that when you get to the bottom of the rectangle (see image below), your step row ends in exactly the right place to continue stitching down the pole row that you ended at the other side of the rectangle.
This is the magic of basketweave backgrounds. As long as you keep to your steps and poles, you can plan where to stop and start sections, knowing that they will meet perfectly. And when the lines meet perfectly you won't get shadows or ridges in your stitching.
Continue stitching until you reach the top of the crescent. At this point you could continue stitching down the right side of the crescent until you reach the tip, or you can stop at the top of the crescent and move on to the next section. In the illustration, below, we stopped at the top of the crescent, secured the thread, and then started again at the top of the orange shape.
Like before, when you start to stitch around the orange flower make sure you are starting at the lower end of a step row or the upper end of a pole row, however it works out on your canvas. In this case it is a step row.
Continue stitching in this manner, maintaining the overall diagonal pattern of the background as much as possible.
Go back and stitch down the right side of the crescent to meet up with the stitches coming from the other side.
The image below shows a new thread being started to stitch above the squiggle.
And, another new thread is started to stitch inside the squiggle (below), rather than dragging the thread over the blue stitches.
As the interior of the squiggle is filled in, the line of stitches meets up with the pole row coming down on the left...
You have now successfully worked around several shapes in a nice smooth needlepoint basketweave stitch by working in sections, and maintaining the poles and steps pattern, and working down from the top of the canvas toward the bottom.
If you have a canvas with large open areas of background, interspersed with areas with lots of pattern, it is tempting to stitch the open areas first and fill in the fiddly areas later. Try to resist this temptation! It can show where two areas come together if you have to come up through an occupied canvas hole to stitch the last row between sections. Work the canvas methodically from top right to bottom left.
The needlepoint basketweave stitch is great for backgrounds and small areas of your canvas. But, if you are looking to branch out, discover three of our favorite needlepoint background stitches, or our go-to needlepoint stitches for sky.
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