Picking backgrounds can be one of the most challenging aspects of needlepoint. I’ve been doing needlepoint so long (almost 40 years) that I can usually see the background early on in planning the piece.
But I ran into a wall over the weekend on the Cooper Oaks piece “It’s so Nice When the Prince Remembers.” As you can see from the pictures, I’m making nice progress on it.
From the beginning I had the idea to make the background look kind of like wallpaper. One of my favorite techniques for doing this is Needlepoint Damask, a tent stitch technique which uses two threads of the same color & different textures to make something which looks like damask fabric.
It’s always worked beautifully in the past, but it isn’t working here. You can hardly see the metallic fleur de lis. I think I know what happened. The metallic I used (from Kreinik’s Gourmet Collection) is rather flat for a metallic. The other thread, Silk & Ivory, has a lot of life to it because of the silk. There just isn’t enough texture to make it work.
So I’m ripping it out and looking for a new background. Often a more textured stitch will work. But not here, a real contrast between the foreground and background is needed. And the foreground has lots of texture.
So what about a larger stitch? That might work, but it has to be easy to compensate because of the lettering and hair. I am doing Basketweave around the hair, but I want it to fit in.
In those considerations, the wallpaper idea has been lost. But it’s still a good one. So I need a background which will look like wallpaper, not have too much texture, and have longer stitches (but not too long).
Stripes of all kinds make outstanding backgrounds. They can be subtle or bold, scale easily, and work well in the background because we often see stripes in real life, so the brain accepts this as a background.
Lots of stitches can work as stripes and I’ve got two in mind, Diagonal Beaty and Diaper. I like the Beaty idea best because it’s a bit larger and, I think, will work better with the scale. Also Diaper has Mosaic Stitches in it and I’m already using those on the chair.
You can see a bit of the Beaty along the bottom.
I’ll keep you posted.