Melitastitches4fun's Blog


Technique Issue: Stitching into stitches and catching fiber
November 26, 2019, 11:46 am
Filed under: General comments, Technique Issues, Threads

In reading over suggested materials from the EGA Master Craftsman Canvas bibliography, I have found a couple of interesting issues and will post about some of them. I’d love to get your input on these.

In Needlepoint and Beyond: 27 Lessons in Advanced Canvas Work by Edith Anderson Feisner, she says to always work into the stitches that have been previously done. That makes sense. It’s also been described as working from a clean hole into a dirty hole. That’s not always possible but an excellent tenet to follow.

Before I proceed, let me say she is using size 10 or 12 mesh interlock canvas and Colbert Persian wool in her examples. So, perhaps her next statement that I have some question about is not applicable to all fibers.

She says to catch just a tiny bit of the fiber as you work the stitch to lock the stitches together but do not split the fiber. Her reasoning is that, “This will prevent friction between stitching from building up and destroying the fibers.”

Do you think her finished pieces are being used as rugs or something being handled a lot? Because when would there be friction after you stitched and framed something?

I have always tried to keep the holes more “clean” by specifically avoiding catching the fiber from the previous stitch. I thought that was preferred. And, so, perhaps “it depends” on what you are stitching and for what purpose. In straight stitches like bargello, it might decrease the chance of seeing the bits of canvas on either side of the threads (sometimes referred to as teeth or dandruff). And, bargello patterns are often pillows or purses which would get wear.

Have you ever heard anyone recommend catching the fiber while stitching? And, if so, when, what fiber, and why.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments.


6 Comments so far
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I’ve never heard of this and do as you do. In the bargello class I took with June McKnight some years ago, she never suggested this technique. I have a feeling it may have more to do with the materials Feisner is using, since wool and interlock canvas does sound rather like something for a rug that’s going to get a lot of wear. It was published in 1980, which could have a lot to do with it too Sometimes practices that were normal back then have been replaced with those more applicable to the materials in use now.

Comment by Remedial Stitcher

It might just be that practices and materials differ now as you say Sara Leigh. Several older books are on the list. I’ll have to see if they address the issue.

Comment by melitastitches4fun

I’m curious how you catch a fiber but not spit it. Like you, this is not something I’ve come across before. I’m not sure how you would do this with metallic braid, rayon or silk ribbon, or similar threads. Like you, I prefer to stitch up in a clean hole and down in a dirty one. Especially when compensating, I may grab a sharp laying tool to push threads aside.

Comment by JoanneP

Right, it would not work with the threads you mention Joanne. The wool she showed was loosely twisted and probably quite thick considering one strand was covering the canvas on straight stitches. I can’t take a photo of the figure because of copyright issues but she kind of stabs at the edge.

Comment by melitastitches4fun

The book was written in the early 1980s (dates vary from 1980 to 81 and 83) so this was before anything but wool and perhaps silk was widely available. Kreinik metallics were only becoming available in silver and gold by the late 1980s. Looking at my books from the 1970s, most items were pillows, chair covers and other hard-wearing items like slippers, tennis racket covers, purses, glasses cases, rugs, etc. I don’t think that friction builds up on current pieces the way it might with all wool, especially if something is going to get wear.

Comment by chillyhollowneedlepointadventure

Yes, mine is dated 1983 but copyright is 1980. Now that you mention it Jane, I can’t remember stitching with anything but cotton floss and wool back then. But, I didn’t realize so many of the speciality threads we are fortunate to have now are that new. Silks weren’t in the craft stores and still aren’t. We’re very fortunate to have the wide variety of threads today.

Comment by melitastitches4fun




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