Basketweave Stitch in Needlepoint - Solving Practical Problems

The needlepoint basketweave stitch is a versatile and strong stitch that is widely used, but many stitchers have problems with it - this is understandable since it's worked in diagonal rows, which takes a bit of getting our heads around.

how to do a perfect needlepoint basketweave stitch


The article on this page is about how to practically stitch basketweave onto a canvas that has irregular shapes. But first we need to make sure you know...

1. How to do a basketweave stitch successfully. Click through to find stitch diagrams for needlepoint basketweave, and a how to video.

2. Stitch up the steps and down the poles.

This is only important (or even possible) if you are working on mono canvas - which is almost any handpainted canvas. If you are working a needlepoint kit this won't apply. If you don't already know about stitching up the steps and down the poles then it's quite important you learn and there's more information about it if you click the link.

If you're working a needlepoint kit or interlock canvas, to stitch a needlepoint basketweave that doesn't have ridges or lines in it you want to make sure you don't stitch two up rows next to each other (or two down rows). In other words, you can't break the basketweave pattern and expect to have a nice looking stitch on the front. For tips on how to avoid getting lines in basketweave you might want to click the link which will open a window for a short article.

Now, onto how basketweave is stitched in real life.

In a perfect world you'll only stitch canvases that have regular shapes. Hah! We all know life, and canvases, aren't like that.

They come with lots of irregular parts - patterns like this lattice one below. (Sorry about the black stitches on black - a bit hard to see). The point is that this pattern forms a maze, and many shapes you'll need to wind your way around on a needlepoint canvas will be like this. Which means you can't work your basketweave stitch in one nice long stream.

basketweave stitch needlepoint
It will get broken up, because in forming the diagonal rows, and not breaking the basketweave pattern that's forming on the back, you're cutting off some nooks and crannies.

In this image below, we started stitching the lattice-work in the top right hand corner. We made sure we stitched up the steps and down the poles, and fairly quickly we stitched an up row that cut off Area #1 and turned it into an unstitched island. We kept going and the same thing happened with 2 and 3. You'll have different islands and coves on your canvas but the point is, when you're stitching an irregular area in basketweave, chances are some areas are going to get cut off and you need to know how to deal with them.

basketweave stitch needlepoint

Here are some strategies and rules of thumb for dealing with this:

1. Stitch away from your main body of stitched work, not up to it.

In returning to fill in Area #1 we turned the canvas around so our stitched body of work was on top (furthest north). We figured out whether we needed to start with an up row or down row - and we did this simply by seeing if the next row were steps or poles. But, if you're stitching an interlock canvas you'll need to look on the back of the canvas and see if the last row of stitches placed left a horizontal stitch on the back - in which case it was an up row and you're going to start with a down row (and vice versa).

This image shows us filling in Area #1 by carrying on the basketweave pattern and moving away from the stitched area (the canvas is turned around). This ensures your needle will continue to come up in "clean" (unfilled holes) and you won't pierce stitches and get lines forming on your canvas.

We used the same strategy to fill in area #2.

basketweave stitch needlepoint
2. Stitch small cut off islands in Continental stitch.

With Area 3 we carried the basketweave pattern on from the top down but it created another cut off area which was sandwiched between two stitched areas. When this happens, and it's a small area, stitch it in Continental stitch. This is because it's going to give you the smoothest outcome. If it's a large area you have annexed off I would work it from the top down in basketweave, and as long as the basketweave pattern hasn't been broken anywhere on the canvas, you should meet up with the row below without breaking the pattern.

basketweave stitch needlepoint
3. Stitch lines as long as you can

Try to keep the lines flowing smoothly with long rows. This may mean carrying your thread over 1-4 canvas intersections in some instances, but don't carry your thread any longer than this as it will affect the tension and create an uneven stitch.

4. Just make the best decisions you can

Every canvas is different and it's hard to set hard and fast rules, so just assess every situation and make the best decisions you can. If you don't break the basetweave pattern, and try to follow these rules of thumb as much as possible, you should be creating nice and even basketweave stitches.

And if you want more information we can recommend this affordable little e-booklet from Susan Sturgeon Roberts. You can download it to your e-reader. As well as good basic information and diagrams for how to do a basketweave stitch it also has: