I’ve been using the rainy days recently to think about projects, often because it’s just too gloomy to stitch. One of the nicest things I know is taking a canvas and matching up threads for it to give me the effect I want.
Today we’ll talk about the method I use to pick out threads for a project. We won’t be talking about specific threads, but categories. Then, for any project you have, you can assign the kinds of threads you like and be sure you’ll get a result that looks great.
The key to picking threads for a needlepoint project is looking at the canvas.
The Parts of a Canvas
Every canvas will have at least two of these areas:
- Focal Point – what the design is about, the first thing people should notice
- Foreground – the area nearest the viewer in the visual plane of the canvas, it contains the focal point.
- Background – the most distant areas in the visual plane of the canvas, it is the backdrop for the design.
- Middle Ground – the area between the foreground and the background. It can have one or more visual planes,
Look at your canvas and identify each of these areas. The kind of area an object is in is the most important factor in choosing threads.
What Threads Where
The focal point should always have your most attention-attracting threads, techniques, or embellishments. Although how attention-getting a thread is depends on context, there are some rules for ranking threads:
shiny attracts more attention than matte
metallic attracts more attention than non-metallic
multi-color attracts more attention than solid
furry attracts more attention than non-furry
Embellishments and fabrics always attract more attention than stitches because their texture is different. For example I’m getting ready to stitch a poinsettia where you can see the seeds. I’m making them the focal point and using a metallic thread for them.
The foreground can also have attention-grabbing threads, maybe only slightly less forward than the focal point. Another upcoming project has a silhouette as its foreground. I’m stitching it in black Very Velvet specifically because this thread in this color looks like fabric and will bring your eyes to it.
The background needs to have your most retiring threads: more matte, thinner, less varied in color; these are all factors that can make the background thread choice easy. This does not exclude a bit of glitz. But the shine/metallic should be less than that used in the focal point and it should be combined with matte threads.
Your middle ground can have all the threads between the foreground and background. They should attract more attention than the background threads and less than the foreground. If there are several planes here, threads should attract less attention as you move back in the plane of the picture.
By analyzing your canvas and ranking your threads, you can be sure you will put the attention of your viewer where you want it to be.