Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Compensating Diagonal Stitches - Part 2

This blog post is a continuation of compensation of diagonal stitches (on the true diagonal) for unusual shapes - arguably one of the more difficult areas of needlepoint.

Here is my shape that I want to fill.  And this is important - I want to fill this shape.  What does that mean?  That means I want to cover all those lines that are drawn on the canvas.  Many times the stitcher wonders if the lines should be covered or not.  Ask yourself, are you filling the shape or surrounding the shape or stitching next to the shape?  If you are filling the shape, cover the lines.  If you are surrounding the shape, or stitching next to the shape, do not cover the lines.

Initial Shape - To Fill

As said in the previous blog post, Compensating Diagonal Stitches - Part 1, begin stitching in an area that will give you a long enough line of stitches so that you can establish the stitch pattern.  Again I am using the Diagonal Scotch Stitch, though this technique will work for any diagonal stitch on the true diagonal.  So here is my first row of stitching:

First Row of Stitching
Notice that I am covering the lines.  The second row begins below the first row, and I choose to stitch the small tent stitch underneath the longest stitch of the previous row to start my stitch pattern.

Second Row of Stitching
The green arrow above indicates my starting point.  I don’t want to start where I need to compensate, I want to start where I know it is easy to establish the stitch pattern.  

Let’s look at the third row:

Third Row of Stitching
OK, now in this third row I have encountered my first real problem - indicated by the green arrow.  How long should this compensating stitch be?  Well, I”m not really sure.  This is where a lot of angst comes in for the stitcher.  Here is my advice, err on the side of caution - place a shorter stitch here if you are not quite sure, or skip this stitch for now and see how the curve develops with further rows of stitching.  If you skip this stitch, just remember to put it in later, if you place a shorter stitch and you really feel that to achieve a nice curve, a longer stitch would have been better you can fix it.  How?  

Shhhh... Don’t tell anyone, but place a longer stitch over the top of that tent stitch.  Watch the tension of the stitch so it lies nicely next to the stitches on either side, but in the end, no one will know what you did.

Does that surprise you?  

Confidence in knowing what to do in these situations is a difference in experience.  Learning tips, tricks and techniques for different complicated issues will allow you to gain confidence and tackle these problem areas without hesitation.

Another thing about this row, I stopped stitching when the next stitch is not contiguous with the previous stitch - I’ll just add those stitches later.  Notice this curve bends inward.  If I drag my thread to the next stitch in this row, I may have that thread run behind an open area, or an area with a lighter thread in color and it may shadow through.  Safer to fill it in later.

OK, let’s look at the next row:

Fourth Row of Stitching

The green arrow in the fourth row of stitching points to my starting point.  Am I concerned that I did not start lower down, because there is all that canvas below the green arrow that needs to be filled with this row of stitches?  No, I want to start stitching where I know that I can accurately begin my stitch pattern, and for me that’s the first tent stitch underneath the longest stitch of the row above it (here the longest stitch is a compensated stitch, so perhaps I should refer to it as the corner stitch.)

Let’s look at the next row:

Fifth Row of Stitching

Nothing very interesting here, just notice that I am at the bottom of the shape and the last two stitches are compensated, that’s what the green arrow is pointing to.

Filling in the last row of stitches:

Sixth Row of Stitching

I am now at the end of my regular stitching, defined as stitching below the previous row, and I need to fill in those open areas, most will be compensating stitches.

Where do I go from my last stitch?

Here is what I would do if I still had thread in the needle with which to stitch.

Seventh Row of Stitching

I have three arrows included in this diagram and they indicate where to place tacking stitches on the back of the canvas.  Remember that you want the pull of the last stitch to be consistent with the stitch before it so after stitching the last blue stitch in that corner, I place a tacking stitch at Arrow A.  This tacking stitch will maintain the downward pull on the last stitch in the corner.  I then travel up to number 1 and place those two tent stitches.  (There is really no good place to put a tacking stitch before placing the stitch at number 1, and my thread is coming from below that point so I will let it go.)  I need to place a tacking stitch at Arrow B to maintain the downward pull on that last tent stitch (ending at number 4) prior to moving to the stitch starting at the number 5.  However, I need to change the direction of the pull on that thread traveling across the back of the canvas, and need to place a tacking stitch at Arrow C.

Got that?  Sometimes one tacking stitch will do, but sometimes you need two tacking stitches.  Always look at the pull on the last stitch before traveling to a new location, and then again, look at the pull on the first stitch at your new location.  Both of these stitches must match the pull on the stitches as if there was no break in your stitching from one diagonal row to another.

OK, now the eighth row:

Eighth Row of Stitching

Oh dear, here is another compensating stitch in which there is not a definitive answer to the length of the stitch (green arrow.)  However, I am looking at the drawn line and it looks like it is pretty straight along this area, and I want my stitches to follow the line, not stick out from this line.  So I think that a stitch over one canvas thread will work well here.  Again, I will not know for sure until I stitch the whole area.

Moving on to the next row:

Ninth Row of Stitching

Remember to place tacking stitches!  OK, now I have moved down to the bottom of the shape and put in the brown stitches.  The green arrow is pointing at a last compensating stitch that needs to be placed.  Again, it is not completely obvious that the stitch goes there, but if I want to have a curve there I had better put that little tent stitch in - which is shown in the next diagram.

Tenth Row of Stitching

I have now filled in all of the compensating stitches for the bottom part of the shape and now must move to the top part.  My advice is not to pull your thread on the back all the way to the top, but end your thread at the bottom and begin a new thread.  

I am showing all the rest of the stitches that fill in the shape in the final stitch diagram:

Filled in Compensating Stitches for Top Part of Shape

At this point you can look at your filled in shape to determine if you have achieved a nice curve or need to adjust some of those compensating stitches.  We will look at that issue and a way to smooth out curves in the next blog post.