How to Follow Needlepoint Patterns

One of the challenges of needlepoint is learning how to follow needlepoint patterns and compose basic needlepoint stitches. Once you get the hang of them, you are well on your way to creating beautiful needlepoint pieces.

Three of the most basic needlepoint stitches are the half cross-stitch, the continental and the basketweave stitch.

Half Cross-Stitch and Needlepoint
The half cross-stitch is probably the easiest needlepoint stitch to learn. Think of your canvas as a series of grids with "t" intersections and connecting bars.

The half cross is stitched from left to right. To start a half cross-stitch, you bring the needle up from the "wrong" side of the canvas and cross diagonally over the "t" intersection into the next hole above to the right. You will then bring the thread down vertically to cover the bar on the wrong side and bring the needle up on the "good" side to cross over the next "t."

If you have done this stitch correctly, you will have diagonal stitches on the right side of your canvas and vertical stitches on the "wrong" side.

Continental Stitch
The Continental stitch, also called the tent stitch, is worked from the right to the left.

The Continental stitch starts out the same as the half cross-stitch. You bring your thread up from the "wrong" side and cross over the "t" into the hole on the upper right. However, instead of going down vertically on the wrong side, you will take your needle diagonally to the left, skip the hole with the first part of your stitch in it and bring your needle up through the hole directly to the left of your first stitch. You will then cross the "t" and repeat the process.

The thread should be running diagonally on both the "right" and "wrong" sides of your canvas.

The Basketweave Stitch
The basketweave stitch is a little more complicated than the half cross and Continental stitches. This is a diagonal stitch that runs downward from the right and then back upward from the left.

Start your stitch like a half cross. After you do your first "cross" to the right, go down vertically on the "wrong" side and bring up your needle through the second hole. Cross diagonally to the right over the "t." Repeat this pattern. When you have finished with the row, you will reverse the process. However, instead of going vertically on the wrong side, you will move horizontally two holes to the left, and then pull the thread through and crossing the "t" to the right. Continue until you have finished the row.

The reason this is called the basketweave stitch is that the stitches will resemble the look of basket weaving on the wrong side of the canvas. The "right" side will look like it has a row of staggered, diagonal stitches.

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