Updated July 6, 2018
It’s one of the truisms of needlepoint: Stitch the light threads before the dark ones.
I figured for a long time that this was leftover from the days when we only stitched in wool. Wool, being fuzzy, has fibers that can get caught in later stitches. A but of dark fibers in a light thread dirties the color. A bit of light fiber in a dark thread does not.
Then, since I didn’t stitch with wool so much, I didn’t worry about it.
But look at my recently completed bunny piece. Some darker threads needed to travel from letter to letter or from face to face. But they don’t show through the lighter fur and background.
I stitched the lighter colors first. By doing this I create not only a stitched front, but a covered back. Now, the dark thread passes over three layers (stitch front, canvas, stitch back) instead of just one (canvas). You can see it in this picture of the back of the canvas.
This accomplished several things:
- I don’t stitch over the dark traveling thread so it doesn’t get caught in the lighter thread.
- By not stitching over the dark thread, that thread doesn’t get pressed against the canvas.
- Finally, no “shadows” of the dark thread are seen through the canvas because there are more layers of thread between the traveling thread and the viewer.
When beginning and ending threads, always do this in an area the same color or darker. Because passing through the backs of lighter stitches removes many of these benefits.