Updated January 25, 2019.
While straight and diagonal stitches cover most needlepoint stitches, there are three other stitch and pattern directions that are quite powerful because they don’t have a strong direction. I often turn to these types of stitches when I need something that is unusual but doesn’t have strong lines. In fact, most of my favorite stitches fall into these categories.
When I’m talking about these stitches I’m not talking about the direction of each individual stitches within the stitch unit or pattern, but about the overall direction of the stitch pattern. When you put a stitch into your needlepoint, it’s the direction of the pattern that helps make a great fit.
Oblique Stitches are those stitches with a slant off the true diagonal. Many of them, like Oblong Cross, top of article, are rectangular. Some patterns can also create oblique lines. Some of my favorite of these are pictured above. Bath, top, is an offset version of Milanese. Victorian Step, middle, creates oblique lines of longer stitches. Diagonal Cashmere, bottom, is oblique because of the rectangular Cashmere units.
Use Oblique Stitches when you want to create a difference in horizontal and vertical lines, but not have it too obvious. Combining vertical and horizontal versions of oblique stitch patterns reinforces the direction of both without making the change too abrupt.
Encroached Stitches are those where the stitches in one row intrude upon, or encroach, stitches in another row. The most familiar of these is Encroached Gobelin, above, where one row of stitches starts before the other row of stitches ends. But stitch patterns can also encroach. These patterns do not have strong lines in themselves and have stitches which but up against other stitches, making the lines mesh together. Triple Diagonal Parisian, below, is one such stitch.
Encroached Stitches are a great choice when you want no stitch direction but want more texture than Tent Stitch.
Criss-cross Stitches are those stitches where each individual unit changes direction and overlaps other units. While there are straight stitches with this pattern like Double Linen, above, most of the time “criss-cross” is used for diagonal stitches.
Criss-cross Stitches form highly textured but non-directional patterns. Often they have a woven appearance. They are nice to use when an object is round, a ring (broken or unbroken) or when two sections need to reflect each other. I’m used Serendipity, below, for the horseshoe on my Charley Harper canvas, where the shape defeated all my other ideas.
If you can’t figure out what kind of stitch direction you need in an area, try a criss-cross stitch, they often work perfectly.