Updated May 17, 2019
Canvases with letters, especially small and thick ones that are close together, can be a real challenge for needlepoint. This might be why they stay so popular for Cross Stitch, where the background is already there, but aren’t as common in needlepoint. They are getting more popular these days, but they often pose problems when choosing backgrounds.
With this canvas I realized why; letters are fussy. They have small spaces, they go in and out alot, and they are close together. With only one open thread between the letters, most decorative stitches don’t fit. When you pick a decorative stitch, there is so much compensation needed, the entire background runs the risk of looking confused.
Picking a background stitch that doesn’t require too much compensation is tricky. One solution seen in older needlepoint is to Tent Stitch the lettered area and do a decorative stitch around it. Because the background is small here, there wouldn’t be much space for the decorative stitch. This technique needs more space. You also my not like this look unless you put a Tent Stitch border around the area. In both cases I always feel as if my needlepoint is imprisoned.
Another solution would be a Tent Stitch pattern, such as those found in Needlepoint Damask. I love this technique but I wanted something with texture from stitches, not threads.
This “Keep Calm” canvas is very popular right now, you can get versions of it from many designers. This one is from Needlepoint for Fun. Many stitchers are using a larger version that has fewer problems with compensation. Many others are using open stitches, which also avoids the problem.
Because this will be an ornament, I wanted a stitch with more coverage. T Stitch, one of my favorite stitches, would be an excellent choice, but I wanted something different.
I chose Straight T, below, a straight stitch version of T Stitch. Like T Stitch it has stitches that go in two directions. Because these stitches are straight they go over two threads instead of one intersection. This stitch is called Hatch by Julia Snyder.
I made this stitch in straight lines, completing all the rows in one direction before stitching the rows in the other direction. It’s stitched like a darning patten in two passes.
Compensation was easy. If only one thread was open, I left the canvas bare. Where the letters had more open space, I filled those areas with stitches. This gives the impression that the stitch continues behind the lettering.
Because I chose a fluffy, thick thread, the background is mostly filled. This creates that textured background I wanted. Thinner threads would create a more lacy background.
Try Straight T for those canvases that are fussy. It’s an easy needlepoint background that’s, fast and elegant.