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Understanding Canvas Work Charts

Some canvas work designs are presented in chart form, that is, the position of each stitch in the design is recorded on graph paper. Graph paper is used for charting because it is structurally similar to canvas. The vertical and horizontal lines correspond to the canvas threads; the squares and intersections made by the crossing lines are like the holes and meshes of the canvas.

Both come in several gauges, related to the number of sub-divisions (squares with graph paper, threads with canvas) to the inch. There are two ways to make use of these similarities, and each produces a different type of chart.

Box Chart

With a box chart, the squares on the graph paper represent the threads and/or meshes of the canvas. For a tent stitch, one square means one mesh. With straight or ornamental stitches, a square means one thread or mesh of the stitch’s total span. The total span is represented by the requisite number of squares, heavily outlined. For example, a straight Gobelin stitch, for threads long, is represented by an outlined row of four squares. A large Algerian eye stitch, which spans four meshes, is represented by a group of four by four squares with a heavy outline.

Line Chart

A line chart is the exact duplication of how the stitches will be laid over the canvas threads and meshes. A tent stitch is a slanted line over one intersection of a pair of lines. A Gobelin stitch, four threads long, is a straight line over four lines. A large Algerian eye is stitch is represented by eight lines drawn over a group of intersection and lines and covering in a center square.

In either type of chart, the color of the stitch is indicated with actual colors or symbols in black and shades of grey. With a box chart, the square is filled with either the color or the symbol.

With a line chart, the indications are incorporated in the drawn line. If the chart is in colors, the line is drawn in the color. If symbols are being used, the symbol is made a part of the drawn line.

There is no standardization of the character and meaning of the symbols, and will differ from chart to chart. With other charts, letters or numbers represent colors, stitches or threads.

Submitted by:

Jo Kefford

Jo Kefford has been creating needlework for many years, and loves to encourage others to renew their creative flair. For more top tapestry and canvas work tips, visit http://www.toptapestry.com. All the sources of inspiration you need to complete your very own masterpiece.


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