Updated: September 21, 2018.
Blackwork is an wonderfully effective technique to use as a background for needlepoint.
By its nature Blackwork has several characteristics that make it great for backgrounds. First, it’s open, so it will almost always look lighter than the focal point, even if the focal point is stitched in Tent Stitch, as is the case with the peach’s background.
Second, because the stitches are usually done in thinner threads, it is lower and looks more distant than the focal point. You can see this in the chicken wire background for the rooster, above.
Third, if you do the Blackwork in a color similar to the background color, you can use busy patterns that may not work if done in other colors. The pattern behind the cats is elaborate and large. If it had been done in textured stitches, it would overwhelm the cats.
This is one of my favorite background techniques and you can see I haves used it often.
Here are some wonderful Blackwork patterns (called fills) that make great needlepoint backgrounds.
This pattern, Chinois, was designed by me based on a Chinese Lattice pattern. Although it is a dense pattern, it’s just fantastic as a background because of the repetition of the squares.
Clamshell Blackwork, seen above, is a large open pattern. I recently used it for a sky, where the pattern reminds me of a mackerel sky.
Lawn is a small pattern that would be a wonderful background in a color to match the canvas color. You could also vary it by leaving out motifs, either randomly or in a specific pattern.
Stark is a large pattern that was designed by me inspired by an elaborate carpet.
Based on a Japanese quilting pattern, Floating Diamond, is a wonderful motif pattern that could easily be made more dense if needed.
I hope you’ll try Blackwork for your needlepoint backgrounds soon.