When you are using stretcher bars, you can choose to put the bars below your canvas or above it. Most stitchers put the bars below the painted canvas, above top. A significant number of stitchers put the stretcher bars on top of the canvas, above bottom.
Reasons for putting the bars on top include that it keeps the needlepoint cleaner or that needles are not lost. I haven’t stitched with bars on top, so I thought I would try it on a current project.
The circumstances were as similar to my normal stitching conditions as possible. I used my regular tools, in my normal chair, and under normal lighting conditions.
I found that the shadows from the stretcher bars interfered with my ability to see the canvas. For canvases with wider margins, this might not be as great a problem, but it is not good for small projects. I found I was constantly turning my project to get the best view. Stitching in the shadow also interfered with my stitching length. I had to unstitch and restitch areas on each side in the dark teal border because they were too long or too short.
I stitched much more slowly with the bars on top. This is also due to the shadows. The time I spent moving my needlepoint around and searching for the correct hole slowed everything down. Stitching with the bars on top was frustrating, not just because of this but also because I found it almost impossible to get into a stitching rhythm. Because my stitching time in the evening is my relaxation time, this was the biggest defect for me.
The next day I redid the project, so the bars were below the needlepoint. Under the same conditions, I did find that I could stitch much more quickly. It’s possible that my problems stemmed from this being new, but the bars below works fine for me and my life.