Updated December 4, 2020.
Starting a new needlepoint canvas is such a delight. There is the fun of picking threads, the thoughts about stitches, and the happy work of preparation. This canvas is big (14″ x 16″), so it will be staying home and not traveling. Although the temptation is great to start stitching, a little bit of time spent thinking and preparing will make the process much more enjoyable.
This canvas, as is the case with most needlepoint canvases, does not have the background marked. I often don’t bother or decide after I’ve started stitching, but it’s easier to do it now. Decide what you want it to be, and then using an ultra-fine point marker (I like Pigma microns for this), mark the edges of the finished piece. You’ll find it easiest to stitch if you leave at least 1.5″, preferably 2″ of unstitched canvas all around.
Next, measure your canvas and find, or buy, stretcher bars. I had the sizes I needed in my stash. I’m also thinking I’m going to use my stand to stitch this, so I need to put it in the family room, so I will remember to use it.
On to the threads. This poses a challenge for many stitchers. The best approach for doing this is to think about the piece and to ask yourself some questions. Is it an adaptation of someone else’s art? Do you want it to look realistic or be a fantasy? What threads do you have that you could use? What mesh is it on?
In this case, the piece is an adaptation, and I want it to look like the original as much as possible. In Harper’s case, this means flat textures and colors, no glitz. Since I love that look in his work, the metallic accent threads I had picked got set aside after I started stitching. As you can see from the picture above, I’m using matte threads and solid colors. White Walsh silk/wool will be the background (I have tons of it). Red, black, and golden brown Silk & Ivory will be the ladybug. The clover is Lorikeet, and the horseshoe will be needleblended of the two shades of linen. The mesh is 13, so I know these threads will fit.
I have found that by thinking about the canvas before I begin to stitch (Or even to write a stitch guide) helps me immensely in the process of stitching. By knowing before a stitch is taken the overall look I want, the size and the threads I’ll use to make the canvas come to life, I have set off on the path towards a lovely needlepoint and will have to second guess myself less often.