You see them in the titles and descriptions of needlepoint pieces all the time, but what do they mean? They are on eBay, in catalog, and in descriptions of needlepoint in magazines.
How can I be sure that when I find a canvas which is a pleasure to stitch? Knowing what you are buying is the key to finding the perfect canvas. The imprecision of a printed canvas can make it difficult for a beginner to know what to stitch. The expense of a hand-painted canvas could put off someone on a limited budget. The keys to picking the perfect canvas are understanding the skills and knowing what you see when you look at a canvas.
I’ve been doing needlepoint since 1970 and teaching and writing about needlepoint since 1997, so I can help you understand the terms so you can get the perfect needlepoint canvas.
Painted or Hand-painted canvas — These terms mean that a person used a brush and paints (usually acrylic) to paint the design onto the canvas. In the United States, these canvases are the most popular.
Stitch-painted canvas – You see this term more rarely, but it refers to a hand-painted canvas where each individual thread intersection is painted. Many people think this is necessary for great needlepoint.
While stitch-painted canvas make it easy for you to know exactly what colors go where, not all things need to be stitch painted. Letter and number should be precise, and straight lines should be straight. But in many other cases, the precision (and cost) of stitch painting is not necessary.
Computer-printed – This is an emerging area of Needlepoint canvases with quality equal to that of painted canvas. The difference is how the design is put onto the canvas. Extremely high-quality printers are used. Many people find it hard to tell the difference between painted and computer-printed.
Screened — These canvases use silkscreening to produce the design. The paint used is oil-based and will look an feel different from acrylic paints. The paint it pushed through a screen so that only the correct areas of the canvas are colored. Generally only very high-quality kits, such as Elizabeth Bradley or Ehrman use this method. You can usually tell a screened canvas because the edges of the design are straight.
Printed – These canvases use rolls of canvas and printing presses to put the design on canvas. They also use oil-based paints. Because the designs are mass-produced, edges often do not line up and colors may not change on the intersections. Printing is used for most kits and less expensive canvases.
Line-drawn — These canvases are not colored, but have the outline of the design drawn onto the canvas from a template. Generally line-drawn canvases come with detailed instructions for stitching the design. This is also often the method used for teaching projects. It keeps the cost low but allows the same versatility in stitching you get with a painted canvas.
You can create wonderful needlepoint, no matter how the design gets onto the canvas, so buy the design you love and start to stitch!
Janet M. Perry is one of the leading writers of needlepoint stitch guides in the world. She writes innovative guides for needlepoint canvases from over 20 designers. She puts into practice her motto to make needlepoint fast, fun and affordable.
She is an expert in needlepoint, both on the Web and through her writing as the Needlepoint Pro for Cross-Stitch & Needlework magazine. She works with deigners, shops, and thread manufacturers on new products and regularly reports on trends in needlepoint.