Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Pirate Cat Background

Horizontal Gobelin Background 
After experimenting with various background stitches, I settled on one that I liked.  I have to emphasize that choosing which background works is to some extent a matter of taste.  What suits me is not necessarily what suits you.  Remember, this is needlepoint, not math.  There is not one right answer to choosing a stitch like there is to 2+2 which always equals 4.

The stitch above is called Horizontal Gobelin Background in Brenda Hart's Favorite Stitches Book 2 (page 81).  I love Brenda's books and use them more than any others in my stitch library.  (I think canvas embellishment beginners won't find Brenda's books as easy to use as the Stitches for Effect series, however.)  As you can see, I decided it would be easier to work this with the canvas turned on its side.  The stitches are roughly rectangular shaped and they are done in gentle slopes that point directly at the Pirate Cat.

Whenever I fill a large area with stitches, I try to start my first row in the largest point.  By the time I worked my way from the center out to each side, I am familiar with Horizontal Goblein Background and find compensating easier.

Speaking of compensation, look at the photo on the right.  See how I am continuing my background stitch in red right over the pirate hat?  If you stitch your background first, you can stitch complex background stitches from one area to the next using a contrasting thread color to continue the rows on the other side.  It's easy to pull out the red stitches later.  This way I made sure that the rows on the left side of the cat match up with the rows on the right side because I had a row stitched all the way from one side to the next.  Once I got through the pirate hat, I switched to my regular background thread and continued on, establishing a row that I could use to fill out the area properly.

One reason I like to do backgrounds first is that you can easily count over (or stitch over) the main areas to make sure the background areas are all lined up.  There is no rule that says you have to do the background first.  I just find it easier.

Background Finished
Here is what the finished background looks like.  I'm sure you are all asking why I picked green thread for the background.  Study the canvas again.  Green paint is used in just one spot--the kitten's eyes.  They are huge and dominate his face.  I decided I would emphasize the eyes even more by using a lighter shade of green for the background.  I rummaged in my stash and found some green silk floss that looks lovely with the metallic green I've chosen for the cat's eyes.  So now we have a diagonal slanted stitch that echoes the shape of the sign while pointing toward the cat and making his eyes more prominent.

Each choice you make when embellishing a canvas narrows down the choices you make later on.  Since I decided to emphasize the green eyes with green metallic thread and a green background, I have to have two greens that work together.  It makes it easier to choose threads when you have a goal in mind.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at Archived Yahoo 360 postings at