A few months ago I bought this lovely HP Designs canvas of two cats. I bought it because the looks on their faces reminds me of my two cats, Darcy and Bingley.
There’s only one problem — both my cats are black.
You have probably encountered this problem in your stitching. The look of the canvas is right but the colors are wrong. You need to find a way of adapting the needlepoint canvas to you.
In order to do this you will need a way to take notes and either acrylic paints and brushes or pens made for marking on fabric. This process can’t be done in a hurry and you will need at least 24 hours after you have made your changes to let the canvas dry before starting to stitch.
Before getting down to the changes, look at your canvas. Are there areas that will not need to have the color changed? Note these. On this canvas the background will still be green and I’ll retain the narrow silver border.
Fantastic! That means I only have to worry about the cats.
The next step is to dig down a little deeper looking at the areas that need changing. First is there anything about them you like? The black cat is going to be my larger cat, Darcy, So it’s pretty good, but since Darcy has a white patch on his chest I’ll need to add that.
The white cat, who looks like Bingley will need to be changed completely from white to black.
Now I know my problems. There are four:
- Decide a cat outline color — white or gray?
- Add a light area to a dark area on the canvas
- Change a light area on the canvas to a dark one
- Change the black cat’s eyes to match the white cat’s
Changing Color in Small Areas
The black cat’s eye is a small area, only one intersection. Because it is so small, I can just stitch it in the appropriate color. As long as your thread has good coverage, you can often just stitch over the incorrect color.
Changing the Outline Color
Outlines in needlepoint, such as you see here, allow the artist to define two areas that are the same color. If the area is light they are usually darker than the main color. If the area is dark they are usually lighter. Sometimes they can be a different color entirely.
Looking at the cats you can see that the black cat has an outline in white but whiskers in gray. The white cat has both whiskers and outline in gray.
I like the single color better and the more subtle look of gray. I’ll use that color. Coloring over outlines is hard. You can easily stitch a slightly darker or lighter outline color. If the change is shade is larger, dark over light looks better than light over dark. Stitch in Continental to get the best coverage and bulk up your thread slightly. If you use floss, you can bulk up the occasional thin stitch by going over them after stitching with two strands of floss.
Stitching Light over Dark
When dramatically changing color as I plan to do, you must change the color of the canvas underneath. Light colors covering dark ones will require more than one coat to get good coverage. Paint or color the area to be made lighter once. Let it dry. Do additional coats until the color is close to the one you want.
If you are doing a color where the area was dark, color the area white first, making enough coats so that it is very light. Then add a coat or more with your final color. Without the white undercoat, the dark color will swallow the new color.
Stitching Dark over Light
The main issue here is preventing little flecks of the light color from showing through. If your original color is just a lighter shade of your new color, you won’t need to recolor, your eye will blend the flecks in, just as they do with colored canvas.
If the change is dramatic, as it is here, you need to color the canvas. I have more control with pens, so I use broad-tipped fabric markers. I color as needed before I stitch. Although the color does not have to be even, it should be dark. This may require more than one coat with colors such as black.Paints can often work in one coat.
Adapting the needlepoint canvas to you can be a challenge but try it, you’ll find so many more canvases to stitch.