Quilters and carpenters most commonly use centering Rulers, but they are tremendously useful tools for needlepointers. If you remember number lines from when you were in elementary school, then you know what a centering ruler looks like: zero is in the middle, and the numbers ascend on each side from that point.
You can find them in opaque and transparent styles and in plastic or metal. The transparent ones for quilters work best for needlepoint. If your ruler has a grid on it as well as measurement markings, all the better. Mine has a grid and is 18″ long. It’s made from thick acrylic; it easily lats flat on the canvas. I also see them made to find T shorts’ centers (the one pictured is designed for this) and scrapbook pages.
This ruler works beautifully to find the center of your piece. Let’s say you want to make sure your charted needlepoint project is in the center of an 8″ square. You could count, but that is unreliable. Instead, use your ruler. Find the approximate center of your canvas. Mark this intersection with your Pigma marker and put the center point of your ruler on it. Make sure the ruler is along a single canvas thread. Measure out 4″ on either side. Mark the thread at these points.
Rotate your ruler 90 degrees and repeat the process. With the threads on all four sides marked, you can mark the threads to create the outer square. When you are ready to stitch, you not only have your outline, but you have the center point marked. You can stitch confidently.
Centering rulers are not only good if you are creating original designs or stitching charted needlepoint. You can also use them to create outlines for painted canvases when the design is afloat in a sea of blank canvas. Once again, find the center of the design. You may need to count or measure to do this. Put the center point of the ruler there. Measure out to find the size background you want and mark these threads. Repeat this process for the other two sides. Extend the lines on each side so they meet. You now know how much background you need to stitch.
The ruler only works for squares and rectangles; other shapes require other products. We’ll cover some of these Thursday. It also will not work as well once your needlepoint is stitched. Because most of these rulers are not flexible, they will not sit flat on the canvas. Rulers made for carpenters instead of quilters are often flexible; you could try one of thee.
Of course, because they are rulers, they can be used exactly as you would a ruler. In fact, this is the only long ruler I use.