Sunday, May 25, 2008

Basketweave Demonstration

I got a nice note this week from Martha M. thanking me for introducing her to the basketweave fireman (who walks up the steps but slides down the poles). The fireman was a new face to her despite her being a longtime needlepointer. Since this is a tip passed along from stitcher to stitcher, folks who live solitary stitching lives like I do these days might never get to hear about it. It is my pleasure to help, Martha. I’m sorry I couldn’t write you back privately. You have your Yahoo 360 message system in the default mode--it won’t accept replies to messages you send via Yahoo 360.

Thinking about Martha‘s experience, it occurred to me that some folks who have trouble with basketweave might like a little color-coded tutorial about how the stitch is done. I found it quite confusing when I was trying to learn how to do it, and I had the aid of my fellow Golden Swan Guild members to give me help and guidance! Luckily, basketweave is like riding a bike. Once you master it, you won’t forget how it is done.

I pulled out some 12 count mono canvas, found some brightly colored threads, and set to work. The results are above. Read them from the top down, but remember, I didn’t use the proper amount of thread in the needles. I used less to make it easier to see where the stitches go.

In the photo above in the top row you see the first stitch taken in bright red. I normally make sure my first stitch is always over a pole, but I can’t see that it matters much as long as the second stitch or row is moving in the correct up or down direction to set up the fireman’s motion. Besides, making the first stitch always a pole (or a stair step) is difficult on irregularly shaped areas on a painted canvas.

The second stitch (in lime green) is over a stair step. It is at the bottom of the row so the fireman can walk UP the diagonal. Hopefully you can see the canvas well enough to see the actual thread and see it is a horizontal like this __. The green thread has come up in the hole from the back and it will go down in the diagonal hole across the thread intersection, just like a regular tent stitch does.

Here I have the second lime green row finished and have started down the poles in row three which is blue. I stopped half way down the row so you could see the | pole threads that tell me to make this a down row. Again, I’ve brought the thread to the front for the next stitch but haven’t taken it down yet to help you see how the stitches flow.

The top photo shows row four in pink all done. I have turned the photo just before this paragraph on its side so you can see that this row (which is an up, stair step sort of row) makes a sort of toothed edge, which will be filled in by row five in purple the way that zipper sides mesh together.

The most comprehensive guide to basketweave I’ve ever seen is Davie Hyman’s book The Diagonal Basketweave, which talks in depth about all the issues stitchers may run into while stitching basketweave. Sadly, it is out of print now but if you can find a copy, it is a terrific resource. So here’s to you, Davie!

And here’s to Martha M. who made me think it might be good to not assume everyone learns from reading and experimenting like I do. The rest of you lot--head out and introduce the fireman to all your stitching friends....

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  1. Another quick but strange way that I remember directions is to think "VD" - vertical down. Go figure - it was my local guild chapter recommendation and it's stuck in my head!
    later, alligator!
    - SueB