Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Keep Compensated Edges Neat and Clean

Compensated edges should look neat and clean - just what do I mean by this?

Let’s look at a stitch sample:

Stitch Sample

As you can see, the bottom edge is compensated, let’s take a closer look:

Travel Thread Showing Through from Back
The reason we see this thread is that the compensation edge from the green stitch travels along the back behind the holes in the canvas at that bottom edge.  

Path of Travel Thread

You really do not want anything to show behind those holes:

No Travel Thread Showing

If you look carefully at this sample you may be able to see just where that thread travels:

Travel Thread Behind a Stitch

If you see travel thread showing through along the bottom edge of a compensated area you have several choices to fix the problem:
  1. Pull that thread up with other stitches, 
  2. Purposefully find a new, hidden travel path by turning the canvas over and running the thread behind other stitches (while you are stitching with that thread), 
  3. Or after stitching use a length of sewing thread and whip those stitches out of the way (this will only work if you have not caught the travel thread in stitches from other sections - in this case the cross stitch variation).

A little extra work with making sure your compensated edges are clean and neat will make a big difference on the quality of your work.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hiding Travel Threads

Here is an example of a couched thread (blue/green metallic) with a red couching thread that holds the metallic thread in place.  Red thread is so great to highlight problems in your stitching.

Comparison of Two Couched Threads

Which sample looks better, 1 or 2?

Sample 1 is a typical sample that most stitchers create.  Let me point out a few problems and then I will show you how to change Sample 1 into Sample 2.

Sample 1 With Problems Pointed Out
The black arrows point to travel threads showing through to the front and the blue arrow shows a sag in the couched thread.  These issues are not visible in Sample 2.  

If we look at the back of Samples 1 and 2 we will see why this is the case.

Comparison of Backside of Couched Threads

The backside of Sample 1 shows a vertical stitch, then a diagonal line of thread then a vertical stitch.  This diagonal stitch is why you see the thread showing through to the front.

The backside of Sample 2 shows two vertical stitches followed by a horizontal line of thread then two vertical stitches.  I have used sewing thread in the same color as the canvas thread to tie the diagonal line of thread to the vertical stitch in order to hide it behind the couched metallic thread.

Looking at the backside of Sample 1 only,

Fixing Sample 1 With Sewing Thread
I have placed a black line where I tied the threads on the backside together with the sewing thread.  I did a simple buttonhole knot with the sewing thread.  This simple step will clean up any travel threads that show through to the front from the couching.

There is one more issue to mention, the blue arrow is pointing at the metallic thread.

Another Problem with Sample 1 - Thread Sag

Do you see how the metallic thread dips here?  That is because the couched thread is not taut.  Always pull the couched thread taut prior to placing the tie down stitches, the couched thread here should lie straight in the channel between two horizontal canvas threads.

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.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Compensating Diagonal Stitches - Part 1

This blog post will cover compensating diagonal stitches at a straight edge.  The next post will cover compensating diagonal stitches at a curved edge.

I am going to use the Diagonal Scotch Stitch as my example for Diagonal Stitch Compensation, but there is nothing special about this stitch and the information is applicable to diagonal stitches (on the true diagonal) in general.

Let’s look at the Diagonal Scotch Stitch:
 Diagonal Scotch Stitch

The gray lines on the right hand side and along the top of the stitch diagram are the edges of the stitching area.  My advice to stitchers is to start stitching whole stitches in a long diagonal line so that you can establish the stitch pattern.  Don’t worry about compensating at this point.  In fact, do not start your stitching with a compensating stitch, the probability of making a counting error is very high.

The red arrow, in the diagram above, points to where the last whole stitch can be placed.  The next stitch is going to be compensated, but since the stitches are on a diagonal and I have established the pattern I know what the next two compensated stitches should look like - just stitch as long of a stitch as I can (because the stitches are longer than the area that I am allowed to place them.) 

Partially Compensated Diagonal Scotch Stitch

Here is a picture of my stitching so far:
Partially Compensated Diagonal Scotch Stitch

The red arrow, in the diagram above, leads me to ask a question - is this where the first compensating stitch for the next row goes?  If you are not sure, just leave it for now and begin stitching your next row where you are certain a whole stitch goes - forget about compensating for now.  It is always easier to compensate at the end of a stitched diagonal row, especially if the stitches are contiguous with other whole stitches, than at the beginning.  It’s those stitches that jump an intersection or two away from where you are stitching that are so hard to figure out.

However, be warned - you can’t take this approach if you are using an overdyed thread!  The thread forces you to compensate as you go.  In this case, get out a piece of graph paper and chart out the compensated stitches.

When I start my next row, this time traveling diagonally upwards, I am going to place my first stitch where I know how to start the pattern - that means, I will place my first short stitch (over one canvas intersection) under the last longest stitch - which happens to be a compensated stitch.  If you can't figure out that stitch placement, it doesn't matter where you start, so begin farther up if need be.
Second Row Partially Compensated Diagonal Scotch Stitch

I have three arrows pointing to different areas of the stitch diagram above, let’s look at each of them:
Red arrow - Should I be worried that maybe I could have fit another Diagonal Scotch Stitch in there?  No - I can always fill it in later.
Green arrow -  Now I see where some compensating stitches from the first row belong.
Violet arrow -  I did put in a couple of compensating stitches at the end of the second row, because it was contiguous with the other stitches, so I knew where to place them.

Here is a picture of my stitching so far (I changed thread color so it would be easier to see where the first and second diagonal rows of stitches were placed.)

Second Row Partially Compensated Diagonal Scotch Stitch

You may continue stitching the whole area this way, always stitching under the last diagonal row.  
Stitching Next Diagonal Row

Note the arrows:
Red arrow - The row above has some compensating stitches that need to be filled in.
Green arrow - This row was started again under the longest diagonal stitch on the row above it, so there is an area open that needs to be filled in later.

Let’s say you are done with stitching all of the diagonal rows below the original diagonal row.  Now you have compensating stitches that need to be filled in as well as stitching above the first diagonal row.   And how you stitch the areas above the first diagonal row and how you fill in those compensated stitch areas is important.  You want to keep the same pull on the stitches that you have already stitched.

What does this mean?  Well, the row above the first diagonal row will have to be stitched with the needle coming out of a hole with thread already in it.

Stitching Above the First Diagonal Row

In the diagram above, I have started stitching the row above the first diagonal row (again I changed color to make it easier to see what is happening), going in the same direction of stitching as the row just below the first diagonal row.  I have also started with the smallest stitch, a tent stitch, placing it above the longest stitch of the row below.  Note the two arrows:
Red arrow -  There are some compensating stitches at the beginning of this row that will need to be added later.
Green arrow - Since this area is so close to where I last placed a stitch, this should be the first place I fill in using compensating stitches.

So putting in those two tent stitches:

Starting to Fill in the Compensating Stitches
Red arrow - Since this is the next closest area that needs to be filled in, go here and fill in these compensating stitches.

Can you see how to place these next compensating stitches?

Continuing to Fill in the Compensating Stitches
If you have trouble placing the first stitch as I have indicated in the diagram above, remember that this stitch is contiguous with the previous stitches and you need to follow the pattern, after a tent stitch (dark green stitch) you need to stitch one over two thread intersections (orange stitch) - the start of the compensated stitches. 

In the diagram above, there are two arrows:
Red arrow - Compensating stitches need to be placed here.
Green arrow - Compensating stitches need to be placed here.

So which area to go to next?  Theoretically it does not matter, but logistically, putting in those two tent stitches first (green arrow) is a better choice.  Remember, when stitching tent stitches, you want to stitch them in the continental method, not the half cross stitch method.  See blog post about Tent Stitch - Part 1 for the reasons why.

The diagram below shows how to put in those two tent stitches:

More Compensating Stitches Filled In

A word about traveling thread on the back of your canvas: The first two areas that were filled in were close enough not to cause problems with very long threads on the back of your work.  If you are traveling very far, more than about 4-5 canvas threads away, slide the thread under some stitches on the back to maintain stitch tension.  Remember to just skim the thread under the stitches, not dig down deeply into them.

Also, remember that the pull of the last stitch must be the same as the stitch before it, so you may want to take a tacking stitch after that last stitch to maintain the stitch direction (the way the thread lies on the back of the canvas affects how it looks on the front of the canvas.)

In the diagram above, when you place your first stitch, the pull on that stitch must be the same as if you had been stitching this line of stitches (red violet stitches) all along.  So place a tacking stitch on the back to set up for the first stitch of this compensation.

Then, the final area to fill in may be stitched, as shown in the diagram above with the red arrow.  The compensating stitches are shown in the diagram below.

Final Compensating Stitches Added

If you find that you don’t like stitching above a diagonal line of stitches, then you need to start your stitching in the upper right hand corner (for this example) and then have all of the stitched rows placed below that.  This will add a slight complication to your stitching because those first stitches may need to be compensated right away.  If that is the case, perhaps a piece of graph paper that allows you to draw out the compensation would be the way to go.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Do you know about Mary Rhodes’ contribution to needlepoint?

I always find it interesting to look back at the history of needlework and learn just how we got to where we are today.  And in that vain: Are you familiar with the work of Mary Rhodes?  Mary is known for more than just the Rhodes Stitch, which is one of her creative stitches that is given her name.  

Mary worked under the tutelage of Constance Howard in England, the same woman who helped shape the trajectory of work by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn.  She taught needlepoint from the 1960’s to the 1980’s and it was Mary’s students who brought contemporary needlepoint to the United States, along with her many books written on the subject.  Mary confronted and spoke against poor choices, misconceptions and bad techniques that created substandard needlepoint and consequently shaped the way people stitch today.  She complained that a book written around 1900 caused many needlepointers to drop the use of the tent stitch in favor of the dreaded “square stitch” - the cross stitch over two canvas threads and its many variations.  Compensation was not widely employed at that time, which led to designs that were interpreted in a rigid and angular manner.  Mary advocated that the square stitch should not be used in working linear designs where curves abound, instead, the tent stitch should be used.  

She was also concerned that needlepointers tended to use stitch variety for the sake of variety, rather than for the sake of the design, which produced “ludicrous effects” because of the indiscriminate mixture of texture.  She explained that stitchers often mixed many different stitches in a single piece of needlepoint, then described this mixture’s potential to destroy the balance and unity of the design.

Mary focused on stitches - she explored and gained knowledge of how different stitches worked together and the textures they produced.  She demonstrated and pushed for the resurgence of the use of the tent stitch in a skillful manner.  A rich texture could be achieved by combining tent stitches with other canvas stitches and by using effective variations in color and tone.  Mary felt that the knowledge of how stitches were best used in conjunction with one another to interpret a design was much more important than the simple knowledge of how to work individual stitches.

The use of textural effects is one of needlepoints most important features.  Now you understand why she created the stitch named after her - the texture!

Here is one of her needlepoint pieces:

Mary Rhodes
Lute, unknown date

Lute, by Mary Rhodes, is a wonderful example of an abstract design based on line and shape.  The shape of the lute is created with the tent stitch, the background is rice stitch and the couched lines represent the strings of the lute.  These simple stitches allow the emphasis to be placed upon the beauty of the design.  The colors are deep and rich, which enhance the impact of the central area of brilliance.  Both large and small sequins are used with silver metallic thread couched down to provide a spectacular sweeping curve from top to bottom.  Three large sequins are placed at the convergence point of the multitude of lines.

I never had the opportunity to take a class from Mary, and unfortunately, she died many years ago.  However, more can be learned about this remarkable woman and the history of needlework by reading one of her books, especially the last three books in the list.

Rhodes, Mary. Dictionary of Canvas Work Stitches. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1989.
---. Ideas for Canvas Work. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1970.
---. Needlepoint The Art of Canvas Embroidery. London: Octopus Books, 1975.
---. The Batsford Book of Canvas Work. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1983.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Rhodes Stitch Compensation

I was just reading Jo Ippolito Christensen’s book The Needlepoint Book and looking up what she has to say about the Rhodes Stitch.  I quote: “Compensating stitches are pretty much impossible.”  Is this true?

Well, let’s take a look at the stitch:
Rhodes Stitch
This is just one example of the Rhodes Stitch, the size and shape can be changed easily, making it a very versatile stitch.  A lot of people like to use Rhodes stitches in their work because it offers a great deal of texture.

Let’s try to compensate this stitch:
First Step in Compensation
The first step is to try to block out the area that is not to be stitched - I am blocking out the upper right hand corner of the stitch.  I then pull back those affected lines (lines 1-2, 3-4, 17-18 and 19-20) to determine what holes they should go through instead, as shown below.

Compensated Rhodes Stitch

Will this work?  We won’t know how really successful this compensation is until we stitch it. 

Here is a sample of the original stitch and a sample of a compensated stitch:

Side by Side Comparison - Rhodes Stitch and Compensated Rhodes Stitch

Looks pretty good, right?

Remember what we need to look at: the angle of the stitched lines.  I’ve pointed out two lines for you to look at and I’ve also placed a rectangle over the top of the full Rhodes stitch to highlight where the compensation took place.

Compare the Two Stitches

The comparison at the top of the stitch looks at where #6 from the diagram is in the regular Rhodes and in the compensated Rhodes.  There is a different angle for this stitch due to the pull that stitches 17-18 and 19-20 places on the stitch 5-6.  Do you see the extra bit of canvas showing between the 5-6 and 7-8 stitches?

The comparison at the bottom looks at the angle of the last two stitches.  The compensated stitch shows both stitches, 17-18 and 19-20 side by side, while in the original Rhodes stitch they are not side by side, but 17-18 is nearly covered by 19-20.

So, for this square Rhodes stitch, I’d say Jo Ippolito Christensen is correct, compensation is problematic.  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Review - Chinese Lattice Designs CD-ROM & Book by Dover Publications, Inc.

Chinese Lattice Designs CD-ROM & Book by Dover Publications, Inc.
Softcover 2008.  $16.95

Chinese Lattice Designs is a compilation of 191 royalty-free images of centuries old Chinese window grids.  While some patterns have a distinct oriental feel to them, others do not.  Many of these patterns may be seen today in stained glass windows, architectural ornamentation, mosaic tiles and in textiles of all kinds.  The needleworker may look to these intricate and harmonious patterns to provide inspiration for embroidery.

In 1909, Daniel Sheets Dye traveled to China in order to establish a medical school.  In his spare time, Dye traveled throughout western China and recorded the geometric shapes he saw in the windows of Chinese homes, temples and businesses.  Dye spent more than two decades collecting over 1000 designs from windows constructed between 1000 BC and 1900 AD.  These windows, made from a decorative wooden lattice with a sheet of rice paper glued to the inside, let in light, but not the sights - there were no glass windows.  Carpenters created these lattice windows from folk designs passed down through generations, and as such they were not considered art.  However, these windows testified to a Chinese craft design which excelled in creating a balanced geometric space.  

Dye’s ability to see the beauty in the abstract shapes in Chinese windows and his passion to record the designs provides us today with a wealth of inspiration as needleworkers.  Many of the designs may be directly translated into a stitch pattern.  The lines may represent vertical or horizontal stitches, as well as diagonal stitches.  Other patterns may provide a whole design area that needs to be filled with stitches.  From simple to complex, the needleworker may use these lattice designs to create a stitch pattern or a whole design with an oriental style. 

Dover Publications has a wealth of books with patterns and designs in many different styles.  Needleworkers may peruse their large list of books as a kick start to creativity.  It is interesting to note that similar patterns are viewed as folk designs in many different cultures, perhaps springing up independent of each other.  For instance, the interlace pattern found in old Celtic artwork is similar to the Chinese interlace designs.  Did one culture influence the other, or were they created without interaction between the two peoples?  These answers may never be known, but is an interesting conundrum to consider.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Stitch Compensation Cautions

This post is a small departure from the discussion of compensation of specific stitches and is more of a caution than anything else.

Here is the background:
I’m trying to design a needlepoint piece using Frank Lloyd Wright patterns found in stained glass windows - for ANG’s seminar in Chicago in 2014.  Here is one of the patterns:

Looking at Compensation of Cross Stitch Variation
The red arrow points to the first Cross Stitch Variation, the blue arrow points to where a compensated version of this stitch needs to be placed.  

Here is the stitch diagram:

Cross Stitch Variation

The compensated stitch would only be two threads wide, not the six threads that make up the whole stitch.  I tried every trick I knew to determine where to place the threads and it would not work.  UGH!!!

So what did I do?  I put this piece aside for now.  It will have to be rethought and redesigned and will not make the Chicago seminar.  

Compensation can be very difficult and may not always work out - which is my caution for today.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Herringbone Stitch Compensation

For this blog posting I am going to concentrate on the Herringbone Stitch.  There are many variations of this stitch, depending on the slant of the stitch, the width and the height of the stitch, as well as the numbers of threads in the separation of each “v” of the stitch.  Compensation must take into account all of these variations, there is not one way to do it for every variation of the stitch.

Let’s look at the Herringbone Stitch that is two threads high and two threads wide:

Herringbone Stitch - 2 wide x 2 high

The red lines show the compensating stitches.  Since this stitch follows the 45 degree diagonal of the square grid, the compensation is straight forward and no guessing is needed.

Here is a stitched sample:

Herringbone Stitch - 2 wide x 2 high

Looking at the back of the canvas:

Herringbone Stitch - back of canvas

There is not much thread on the back of the canvas to weave in ending threads.  In fact the stitches on the back of the canvas are over one thread. 

Let’s look at two difficulty issues that the Herringbone Stitch may cause:
  1. It is hard to end threads on the back of the canvas.
  2. The step back stitch (as in going from 2 to 3), the thread goes back one canvas thread and many times it can be pulled under the thread that is supposed to separate where the needle went into the canvas (at point 2) and where it is brought out of the canvas (at point 3.)

For Point 1:
The first piece of advice that I can give about weaving in ending threads is :  get a sharp needle - a crewel needle or an embroidery sharp needle is better than a sewing needle, but that will work too.  The embroidery sharp needle is the easiest to use because the eye of the needle is as large as a tapestry needle.

Let’s look at a stitched Herringbone Stitch sample:

Herringbone Stitch ending threads showing through to front of canvas

The arrows are pointing to ending threads showing through to the front of the canvas.  Let’s look at the back:

Red arrow - ending threads diagonally on the back of canvas
Blue arrow - ending threads horizontally on the back of the canvas

This is the back of the sample and you will notice that you do not see the ending threads on the left side of the stitching where the ending threads are woven into the stitches on the back (and I had to use a sharp needle because there is not much thread on the back of the canvas.)  Notice that ending the threads horizontally means that the ending threads show through to the front.  It is much better to end the threads on a diagonal on the back, meaning you have to weave through a top stitch, then a bottom stitch, then a top stitch, etc.

Other options for ending threads - weave them into stitches next to the Herringbone Stitches.  This is an option, but unless I absolutely have to (like for darning stitches) I always try to end threads behind the stitches that the thread was used to stitch them.  Why?

First, I don’t have to worry about thread shadows showing through stitches with lighter colored threads.  Second, if I have to rip out stitches, I don’t want to disturb stitches in surrounding areas - this just makes it easier for me.  If you’ve ever ripped out stitches and had all these ending threads in them from other areas you’ll know that this can really be a problem.  Maintaining stitch tension on those stitches from surrounding areas is nigh impossible.

Now for Point 2:
Having threads slide under the intersection of the canvas thread is a pain.  Let’s look at the canvas:

Canvas thread on top is vertical

When the top thread is vertical, any stitch over one horizontal canvas thread (as in the Herringbone example above) may slip under that vertical canvas thread.  This usually happens when the area you are stitching in has been disturbed (as in ripping out stitches and stitching over the area again.)  Canvas has some starch in it and that makes the canvas threads “stitck” a bit to each other when you first stitch on the canvas.  However, if you break this bond, then threads can easily slip around, as well as disforming the canvas threads with tight stitching tension.

This is a problem with a linen ground fabric also.  People who work on linen have to take more care in their stitching tension than canvas stitchers.  So watch your tension.

Try not to start a horizontal run of Herringbone Stitch that has an over one canvas thread stitch across the back of the canvas with a vertical stitch on the top.

If you are stitching Herringbone vertically, the opposite is true, don’t have the top canvas thread be a horizontal thread if you have an over one stitch on the back of the canvas.

Canvas thread on top is horizontal

Now let’s look at a variation of the Herringbone Stitch that is not square.  

Herringbone Stitch - 3 high x 4 wide

The important issue with respect to any stitch that is not a a true diagonal - the compensated stitches must have a slant as close to the slant of the original stitches.  I drew the compensating stitches in the diagram in red using the same angle as the original stitches to find where they would enter the canvas.  Let’s look at a stitched sample to determine if the slant is correct.

Herringbone Stitch - 4 wide x 3 high - Arrows pointing to compensated stitches

The compensated stitches are executed with white thread so that they stand out.  I will look at the slant of these stitches to determine if they are correct.  With this sample, I am happy with the slant - that is the only way to know if a compensated stitch will work - look at the slant of the stitch and compare it to a previous whole stitch.