Laidwork is a fun, if sometimes neglected as “too hard,” needlepoint technique. Quite simply laidwork is a stitch where one thread is laid down on the canvas and then attached to the canvas by another thread in a regular pattern. Sometimes these stitches can be quite complex, but the five stitches used in this sampler are easy. They will give you a good idea of the kind of things you can do with laidwork on your canvases.
The great thing about laidwork is that it gives another layer to your needlepoint. This layer you can use to:
- add depth to the stitch or color
- introduce a new color or texture
- add more coverage to a stitch that doesn’t cover well
- take advantage of the underlying color on the canvas
When you do laidwork the canvas color almost always matters because it will be seen after the stitch is finished. Sometimes it shows a lot, as in the Scotch variation in the lower left. Sometimes it shows very little as in the area above that. Rarely, in my experience, does it not show at all, as in the patch in the upper right. When considering using laidwork take this into account.
The first step in most laidwork is to put down the laid stitches. Depending on the final stitch you can do these all at once or go line by line. The choice pretty much depends on whether the decorative stitches go over or under the laid stitches. If there is a laid stitch and the decorative stitch goes under it, you’ll have too move the laid stitch out of the way.
In this sampler, all the stitches except the Scotch variation use a laid thread in every other hole, sometimes vertical (upper left and right center), sometimes horizontal (upper and lower right).
Because the canvas is white, I picked a muted palette that looks like dried flowers. I picked different types of thread for the laid stitches to give you an idea of the possibilities. I’ll talk about this under each stitch.
Minna Stitch (upper left)
Minna is one of the simplest laid stitches. After the foundation is laid in every other hole, straight stitches over two canvas threads (and the laid thread) are stitched in every other hole. This creates a woven look when done in two similar colors.
Both the laid and decorative stitches here are made using Alyce Scroth Needlepoint Silk, a silk perle between #3 and #5. It is heavy for this canvas, but it shows that if you want more coverage, you can use heavier threads in laidwork, particularly for the laid stitches.
Santa’s Bag (lower right)
This stitch is delightful, it lets both the canvas and the laid thread show through while creating a pretty pattern. You can do it with the laid threads either horizontal or vertical.
I used a metallic for the laid threads and an overdyed silk from The Painter’s Palette for the decorative stitches.Using a metallic to match or accent the canvas color for the laid stitches is a great way to add a bit of sparkle, but not have the area shout out for attention.
Laid Scotch Mosaic (lower left)
This stitch is done in three steps. First make the Scotch Stitches over four threads. Then add the long diagonal laid stitches. Finally attach them using Mosaic Stitches. As you can see the canvas forms a frame around each Mosaic Stitch.
I used an overdyed silk that is no longer made for the Scotch Stitches, a thicker matte metallic for the laid stitches and an overdyed silk perle #5 for the Mosaics. This is as great stitch for thicker threads because the long stitches really stand out.
Laid Hungarian (upper right)
In this stitch Hungarian Stitches are made over the laid threads. The longest stitches will meet under the laid stitches so only a tiny bit of them show. This makes it a great use for an interesting background or when you want to use a bold thread but have it blend in with other aspects of the piece.
I used #12 Kreinik for the laid thread and an overdyed silk perle #5 for the decorative thread. The overdye somewhat mutes the texture of the Hungarian Stitch, making it look more like an overall pattern.
Brenda’s Kimono Stitch
I learned this stitch in a class from Brenda Hart where it was a background stitch. It is such a wonderful stitch for vertical areas because the long lines of laid stitches really get shown off. Once the threads are laid, straight stitches in groups of three go over them.
I used another Painter’s Palette overdyed silk in a highly varied shade for the laid stitches. The color variation is muted by the decorative stitch done using Sea Grass from The Thread Gatherer.