Today we have a guest post by Melanie, from the Exclamation Point in Santa Clara, CA. It’s reprinted with permission from her blog, Stitch This.
One of the first questions I get from a customer who is fairly new to needlepoint is “which fiber should I use on my canvas?” My answer to that is a question of my own, “How do you see that part of the canvas looking? Is it flat, dull, shiny, fuzzy, sparkly?” From there I can help the customer make her canvas her own creation to match the view in her mind.
There are so many different fibers that it is sometimes hard to pin down what to use to achieve the effect you want on your canvas. Because there are many different types of fibers; some from animal wool, some from plants and some that are synthetic, each type has different characteristics. Some carry light better than others, some can look very dull or non-reflective and carry no light whatsoever. You also have to consider how the fiber is put together. Is it spun into a tight cord? Is it a loosely spun cord? Is it braided or woven? When holding it in a good light, does it change reflective qualities when you move the thread? These are a few of the questions that should be considered when looking for a thread for a particular area of a canvas.
Another question I am asked is “Do I have to use only one type of thread on my canvas?” The answer to that is a resounding NO! My opinion is that using different types of thread for different areas of the canvas adds textural interest to the canvas when it is being viewed. Now there may be a reason for doing a canvas in, say, all wool or all silk, but you don’t have to if there is not a good reason. One good reason for doing a canvas in all wool would be if the canvas is going to see heavy use such as a rug, a foot stool cover or a pillow. Another is if you are trying to do a period piece and only silk or cotton would have been used during the period the piece represents. I did an old Madonna and Child piece in basket weave stitch and all Paternayan wool to look like a tapestry stitched a couple hundred years ago. The piece is stunning and is hanging in my office at the store. I achieved the effect I sought by using period fibers and period stitches. If you aren’t going for this type of look then a variety of fibers may give you the look you seek. Be creative. Explore. Enjoy the wide world of fibers.