Beginning needlepointers often get frustrated because they think that to stitch needlepoint you MUST learn Basketweave. While knowing Basketweave is important for understanding the construction of many needlepoint stitches, you can go a very long way without learning it. Basketweave is one of those things that needs to be explained to you in a way that makes sense to the way you think.
I know this because I had it explained to me many times and failed to learn it before it finally clicked for me. I needlepointed for a decade and knew dozens of stitches before I finally figured out Basketweave.
You can, and many people do, make lovely needlepoint just doing Continental. In fact, it’s one of my favorite stitches.
If you feel as if you can’t learn different stitches because you don’t read diagrams and don’t do Basketweave, don’t give up! Read on, you’ll learn how to move forward with learning needlepoint stitches. Yes, there are diagrams here but think of them as pictures of what the stitch looks like.
Make the stitch longer
When you stitch needlepoint, you are making a little diagonal stitch that goes across one intersection on the canvas.
What would happen if you made that stitch go over two intersections instead of one? You’d get a slightly longer stitch, right?
OK now if you lined up those longer stitches into a row or a column, you’d get a stitch called Diagonal Gobelin, above.
You’ve just learned a second stitch! And you can make bigger versions of Diagonal Gobelin by making the stitch go over more intersections, above.
Make a little box
Let’s go back to that single longer stitch. It looks like the diagonal line going from corner to corner of a square, right?
Could we use it as the start of making a little square? Yes!
If we pretend that stitch is the diagonal, we would fill in the square with a regular needlepoint stitch and make a little two-thread square box.
That’s another stitch, Mosaic, above.
Switch the Stitch Direction
So now you know three stitches. You can double the number of stitches you know by reversing them. so that all the stitches slant from lower left to upper right. These stitches are called Reverse Tent, Reverse Diagonal Gobelin, and Reverse Mosaic, above top to bottom..
Now you know six stitches and all you needed to do is extend your basic stitch to cover two intersections instead of one.
But we can easily add more with the stitches we know. What would happen if you alternated the direction of that basic one-intersection stitch?
You’d get a line that looks sort of like this: /\/\/\/\/ That’s a stitch called Four-way Continental, above. You need to pay attention when you stitch it, so it’s harder to do, but it is simple to understand.
Because Mosaic is individual boxes, you could change the direction with each box. That is a stitch called Alternating Mosaic, above.
Changing direction with Diagonal Gobelin can’t be done by unit because there aren’t any really, but you could change direction in every row. That makes a stitch called Alternating Gobelin, above.
None of these stitches require you to know Basketweave; they all can be done in straight lines. You’ll find stitches that are made in straight lines easier to understand than stitches, such as Diagonal Mosaic, that are made in diagonal lines because diagonal lines are harder to see.
Practice your Stitches
Try these stitches on a scrap canvas, also called a “Doodle Cloth.” Then try them on a canvas you want to stitch. Add one stitch to your knowledge at a time building on what you know so far.
With knowing several stitches, start adding new kinds of thread. If you used different colors or different threads and one stitch, you’d get new patterns.
See how much you can do by expanding the one stitch you know by one intersection?