Have you ever wanted to learn needlepoint, but just don’t know where or how to begin? If you have an interest in needle crafts, you have probably visited an assortment of websites dealing with the subject. Or, you may have researched the subject the old-fashioned way, through your local library and bookstore. There are numerous sources available on the subject. You’ve probably scanned through some of the informational resources and found, literally, hundreds of stitches listed. Did this cause you to panic? Remain calm, help is on the way.
For the beginner, I have always recommended Long Stitch as the stitch to learn needlepoint with. The Long Stitch, a member of the Straight Stitch family, is, as I stated in the title of this article, the beginner’s dream stitch. The reason this stitch is so easy to learn, is, well, because it is a SIMPLE stitch. The stitch is exactly what both names imply. It is a long and straight stitch. There are no loops to this stitch, nor do you need to worry about crossing the stitch. The stitch is worked from bottom to top. Simply bring the needle and yarn up through the canvas, move straight up over the specified number of canvas threads and bring the needle down through the canvas. You really can’t get any easier than that!
Another added bonus to working with, not only the Long Stitch, but any straight stitch, is the lack of canvas distortion. Because straight stitches are worked vertically or horizontally, there is no diagonal pull, the main cause of canvas warping, as is common with diagonal and cross stitches.
There are two basic rules to keep in mind when working a long stitch project. Rule number one: Do not create stitches that are excessively long. A stitch that is too long will snag and occasionally break. If you have put time and effort into a needlepoint project, do you really want to worry about it coming apart at some point in the future? That was an absurd question, no one would want that. It is a good idea to keep your stitches at no more than eight or ten canvas threads in length. This number is based on 10-mesh (gauge) canvas. If you are working on canvas of a smaller mesh, for example 12-mesh or 18-mesh, the stitches may be worked over a larger number of threads. Rule number two: Maintain an even yarn tension throughout the project. The yarn should be taut, but not tight enough to cause the canvas to bend. To help achieve this, a frame should always be used for long stitch projects. By loading your project onto a four-way frame, you will be able to keep the canvas pulled tight in all four directions. A scroll frame is highly recommended for this. Long Stitch projects are available as kits. With a kit, you get the design already printed on the canvas plus the quantity of yarn you will need to work the project. Lately, I have noticed a decrease in the number of kits available that feature long stitch. I’m not sure why this is so. Fortunately, I design my own projects. Many of them consist of long stitch and other straight stitches. I have found long stitch to be excellent when working details like wrinkles in a face or the fur of a dog and cat. The point where one long stitch ends and another begins will create a distinct line, thus creating the wrinkle in the face or the fur line of a dog or cat. For an example of what can be accomplished with this versatile stitch, visit the Stitchopedia.com page featuring a FREE LONG STITCH design entitled, Boris, the Boxer (He’s a dog, not an athlete).
Regardless of which stitch or stitches you choose to learn first, needlepoint can become a lifetime hobby. Some people may even call it an addiction. Hobby or addiction, needlepoint, long stitch in particular, has given me many hours of relaxation and imaginative creativity. Hopefully, it will do the same for you.