POST UPDATE 2015: Today marks the beginning of the Tridium, the three days before Easter (maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday). It’s a time often set aside with special services, and special penances. In keeping with that, today through Sunday, I’m reposting some great content from the blog’s archives.
See you Monday with something new!
You know how to stitch, you aren’t teaching beginners, why would you ever use Continental if you knew Basketweave? There are occasions when you must use Continental and good reasons why you can sometimes.
You may have thought, or even been taught several times, that Continental only has oblique stitches in every other row. This is not correct. That stitch is a combination stitch of Continental and Half-cross Stitch. Do not use it. Read my post from yesterday about how to stitch Continental, or watch Susan’s video to learn how to make the stitch.
Once you learn, your needlepoint will be released for all kinds of new effects.
First, Continental uses about a third less thread than Basketweave. Most kits have enough thread in them for Continental, not Basketweave, So you don’t have much of a choice here. Or you might be short on thread or can’t find the dyelot. Using Continental could be the difference between finishing a piece and having it languish, forever, as a UFO.
The kit problem is something even the most expensive kits have. If you won’t stitch Continental many backgrounds won’t be finished, and you will end up complaining about shortages in kits.
Tip #1: Use Continental instead of Basketweave for kits.
Second, Continental must be used when you are stitch “Plain Old Needlepoint” using overdyed and hand-dyed threads. I’ve written about this before, and it has ruined pieces for me, as you can see from the picture above.
Right now I’m using a scrap of canvas for a piece that has three squares of Tent Stitch on it, made using a very strongly colored hand-dyed thread (pictured at the top of the post). I picked the thread deliberately to really make a point about why you don’t use Basketweave with these threads. The square is small, only and inch at most, maybe less. But, except for the corner, no color has more than one diagonal row. It is visual overload. You don’t see colors, you don’t see a pattern, you don’t see anything except a mess.
Contrast that with the two Continental patches. While I still don’t like the color much, I see groups of color, little clouds, and rows and partial rows. I can see and process that changes, there is a transition from hot pink, to bright aqua, to light green, which makes sense, I don’t feel disjointed.
Tip #2: Use Continental instead of Basketweave with hand-dyed and overdyed threads.
Third, because Continental is stitched in straight lines you have more control over the thread. If I want something to look like a sky, I can use a hand-dyed thread and Continental in horizontal lines and have a pretty effect with one thread and one stitch. If I want to make a tree trunk I can do the same in columns, and, I have a tree.
I can make little short row clumps of Continental and scatter them all over the canvas and then stitch the entire remaining space in Continental again and have an effect like Art Glass. I can skip stitches and fill them in with other colors to get lovely random spaces.
Tip #3: Use Continental when you want to control color effects in all threads.
Finally, I like Continental when I’m really stressed out. It is one of a few stitches, where I don’t have to think at all, I just stitch. And because the eye can take in and understand rows and columns more easily than diagonal rows, I always feel as if I have made progress, even if I have only stitched for a few minutes.
Tip #4: Use Continental instead of Basketweave when you just need the motion of needlepoint to relax you.
Sometimes, if I think about it, this attitude makes me a bit of an iconoclast in the needlepoint world. But, to tell you the truth, some of the most memorable needlepoint I have ever seen was done in all Continental.
Continental was the way people did needlepoint for ages. Look at pieces from the early to mid-20th Century, it probably is stitched in Continental, the back as lovely as the front, with the oblique sloping lines of Continental still showing the design, although slightly distorted.
I was so delighted when I finally conquered Basketweave, that I avoided Continental for years. But no stitch is bad, and Continental is so good for so many applications in needlepoint, it should be a necessary and often used tool in every needlepointers book.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
Great post! I agree – sometimes you just want to relax and enjoy. It’s a reason I like satin stitch too.
Thanks so much! The photo show clearly what you mean by skipping a row. I have been looking at different Needlepoint art and it is amazingly beautiful and you are right a lot of them are the contintental stitch.
Barbara L says
Thank you for giving me permission to do the continental stitch guilt free. Also, thank you for your comprehensive, detailed explanations and instructions, in general. As someone who hasn’t done needlepoint for more than 30 years and is just picking it up, again, yours is my go to website.
Janet M Perry says
Thanks so much.