Choosing the Right Needlepoint Canvas for Your Project

Trying to choose a needlepoint canvas for your projects can be tricky. There are several different types of canvas, and various gauges available.

Gauge refers to the number of holes per inch in your canvas. Some have just 5 holes per inch, while some have 22 or more. Quick projects without much detail will use a larger gauge, while pieces with a lot of detail will require a finer gauge. The gauge of the canvas will also determine the type of yarn or thread you use to complete your project. A finer gauge will require a finer thread.

The type and gauge you need will depend on your project. If you choose a kit with a printed needlepoint canvas, then the type and gauge are chosen for you, simplifying things a bit. However if you choose to purchase handpainted needlepoint canvases, or if you wish to come up with your own design, then you will want to make sure that the canvas you choose is appropriate for how you will use the finished piece. The following tips will help you decide which canvas you should buy for your project.

  • Mono canvas. Also called single canvas, this is the most common type of needlepoint canvas. It is suitable for most projects, and it is available in a wide variety of gauges. It has a little bit of give, making it appropriate for things like seat cushions and pillows.  
  • Interlock canvas. This is another type of single-mesh canvas, but the threads of this canvas are twisted together, making a stiffer, sturdier canvas with less flexibility.
  • Penelope canvas. Also called double canvas, this type is woven of two threads instead of one. It offers the option of stitching into the regular holes in the weave, or of stitching between the double threads to create areas with more detail. It is available in a wide variety of gauges, although in Penelope the gauge is indicated by two numbers, such as 10/20; one for the number of holes per inch, and one for the number of holes per inch when worked between the double threads.
  • Rug canvas. This is a very sturdy, large-gauge canvas typically used for rugs. It is generally worked in a heavy wool yarn or thick rug yarn.
  • Plastic canvas: Plastic canvas is great for beginners or children. It is stiff, so you don't need to use a frame. This also makes it ideal for three-dimensional projects, such as tissue-box covers. Plastic canvas comes in a variety of gauges, and is generally worked in yarn instead of thread or floss. You can often purchase plastic canvas already cut into various shapes.

Needlepoint is a craft with infinite possibilities and projects for every age and ability. Choosing the appropriate canvas for your project will ensure a beautiful finished piece that will make you truly proud.

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