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An Introduction to Needlepoint Canvas


Choosing the canvas is one of the most important aspects of designing a needlepoint project. As discussed in the previous article, The Five Basic Types of Needlepoint Stitches, another important decision involves choosing the stitch or stitches to be used in the piece. Although the two elements are dependent upon each other, in this article we will discuss the needlepoint canvas. The type and size of the canvas used will depend on the amount of detail in the design of your project. Obviously, the more detailed the design, the finer the gauge of canvas.

There are a few different types of canvas to choose from. They consist of Single Canvas (aka Mono Canvas), Double Canvas (aka Penelope Canvas), Rug Canvas and Plastic Canvas. All canvas is measured by the number of threads or the number of holes (mesh) to the inch. This is referred to as Canvas Gauge. To determine the Gauge of a canvas, use a ruler and count the number of meshes (holes) in one inch. If there are 10 holes in an inch you are working with 10-mesh canvas.

Single Canvas (aka Mono Canvas):

Single canvas has commonly been made of hemp or linen thread. Today's canvas can be made of cotton or synthetics (nylon, etc.) Mono canvas is composed of a mesh of single threads. Mono canvas is available in a wide variety of gauges.

There are two types of single canvas - Plain Mono Canvas and Interlock Mono Canvas. These two types of mono canvas differ in the way each is constructed.

Plain Mono Canvas is made by intersecting two single threads (lengthwise and crosswise). This is the less expensive of the two mono canvases.

Interlock Mono Canvas is made by twisting two thin threads around each other for the lengthwise thread and "locking" them into a single crosswise thread. This produces a more stable canvas and is, of course, more expensive.

Double (Penelope) Canvas:

Penelope Canvas has commonly been made of hemp or linen thread. Today's canvas can be made of cotton or synthetics (nylon, etc). Penelope canvas is composed of a mesh of double vertical and double horizontal threads. This makes it a very durable canvas to work with.

Penelope canvas is available in a wide variety of gauges. The gauge of this canvas is documented differently than the Mono canvas. It is given as two number separated by a slash. For example, 5/10 gauge. The first number is the smaller number and refers to the number of double meshes per inch. The second number is the larger number and refers to the number of meshes per inch if the threads are separated. These numbers are important when working with different types of stitches.

When working with different types of stitches, the Penelope canvas is valuable because it can be adjusted to whatever size you need for each individual stitch. You may work a stitch as it is with double mesh and then, you may separate the pairs of threads and form four plain mono meshes, in which you may work four smaller stitches. This canvas works well for finely stitched areas.

Rug Canvas:

Rug canvas is commonly made of a large mesh of strong cotton threads. An individual mesh is formed by twisting two threads around each other lengthwise and locking them around a crosswise thread made the same way.

These threads cannot be separated. Rug canvas is available in two different gauges - 3.3 mesh and 5 mesh. 5 mesh is obviously better for more detailed work.

Plastic Canvas:

Plastic Canvas is a stiff canvas that is generally used for small projects, such as coasters. This canvas is sold as “pre-cut pieces” rather than by the yard. Plastic Canvas is an excellent choice for beginners who want to practice different stitches.

These are the types of canvas available for needlepoint. Please note that many needlepoint stitches may also be worked on material. Some of the smaller stitches are useful for embroidery work on clothing. Burlap and other strong cloth materials are excellent choices as well.

Submitted by:

Carolyn McNeil

Carolyn McNeil, creator of http://stitchopedia.com …an encyclopedia of needlepoint stitches...

Stitchopedia is an instructional site that demonstrates needlepoint stitches including straight, cross, looped, composite,





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