There are plenty of canvases out there that are perplexing. Perhaps they have water that reflects the landscape around it. Perhaps they have lots of sky, or perhaps they are beautifully or intensely shaded. Somehow, you think, stitching them in Tent Stitch or textured stitches won’t do them justice.
As a result they sit in your stash, unstitched. They wait for inspiration to strike. The sky on this Amanda Lawford London canvas is an example of this.
The solution is Shadow Stitching (also called Lite Stitching). This technique uses the stitches you already know and either open techniques or thinner than normal threads to create stitching that lets the canvas show through.
If you are using thinner than normal threads, use no more than half the number of strands you normally would. In Afternoon Pond, above, a single strand of floss was used where there is reflections while two strands of floss were used on the pond where there is no reflection. With just a single overdyed color I stitched the entire pond.
If you want to use open stitches, pick stitches that are naturally open. Another possibility is to skip threads between stitch units. You can see both in this Waterlily canvas. Much of the pond and waterlily are stitched with open stitches. The sky is stitched in an open Bargello where threads are skipped between lines.
Shadow Stitching can also make great backgrounds, as you can see in this vintage HP Designs canvas. You can even change thread colors with this technique. dede Ogden often uses Tent Stitch and Shadow Stitching to make lovely water. She uses an almost transparent thread that creates a lovely shimmering effect.
It also can make a stunning background because it looks lower than the foreground because it is flatter, more open or both.
There are lots of books out about Shadow Stitching. dede has More Shadow Stitching (reviewed here) and That’s not Needlepoint series 2 (reviewed here), both of which cover this technique extensively. SuZy Murphy has SuZy’s Lite Stitching (reviewed here).
Next time you are