Covering a Painted Canvas Entirely with Squares

Bobbi Sher's "Orcas,"  printed design by Sandra Greba

The first person I saw do this technique is Brenda Hart.  A very creative stitcher, Brenda probably invented this technique before 2000.  (It is possible that dede Odgen used this technique early on as well but I don't know who was the first.  It could have been either of these inventive stitchers or it could have been they decided to do this simultaneously.)

You can find the stitch diagrammed as "Squares and Rectangles" in various sizes in Brenda's Stitches for the Millennium, pages 69-70.

Ruth Schmuff's posting about the technique on her blog includes a stitch diagram but you will have to adjust the size of the boxes to fit in your design.  You should not compensate at the edges.  You can find this stitch diagramed as "Squares-in-Square" in Ruth's iStitches Vol. 3.  "Four Way Hungarian" in Ruth's iStitches Vol. 4 is a much simpler version.

You will need a canvas with a lot of detail and a thin thread.  I believe Brenda Hart used gold Madeira  or Lacquered Jewels, but Ruth Schmuff has used Accentuate.  Other folks double the Accentuate to use two strands or go with size 4 Kreinik very fine braid.  You could also use a ply of silk but I don't think the look would be as interesting with a matte thread.  Bijoux might create a more muted sparkle.  In the portrait of her dogs below, Liz used four colors of Accentuate, each doubled in the needle.

Liz Watson's custom dog portrait from Nimble Needle, Atlanta

And of course any stitch will work in this technique, but the regularity of the boxes appeals to a lot of people.  It also looks great used on a set of canvases!   Amy Bunger shows off three Leigh Designs tropical fish done in this technique at the bottom of page 18 of her October/November 2017 shop newsletter.

Courtesy of The Needlepaint Nook

The Needlepaint Nook in Merrick, NY has a customer who did this airplane portrait all in one strand and color of Splendor.

Many thanks to Linda and Bobbi and Liz for allowing me to post photographs of their designs using this technique!

You don't have to use the square within a square stitch.  Many others work just as well.  Proof courtesy of Ruth Schmuff of Bedecked and Beadazzled!

Amy Bunger takes this technique further just like Ruth did when she used an all-over leaf stitch for a giraffe canvas.  You can see the diagram here.   You don't have to stick to boxes for an all over stitch, in other words!  Do what Amy did and choose a stitch than refers to the subject matter of the design.

Amy Bunger followed up on her August 2018 newsletter (above) with a more in-depth exploration of using one stitch to completely cover a canvas.

Ruth Schmuff of Bedecked and Beadazzled worked a Kimberly Santini canvas of a little hamster trying on a crown.  Ruth used several open stitches on the canvas, each perfectly suited to their area.  It's a master class on using more than one open stitch on a design to enhance the original artist's intent.  Although this is more than one stitch, it's a good lesson on what is possible.

Sandra worked this design with the squares turned to make a diamond and put a Smyrna Cross in the center.  Worked in size 4 Kreinik braids.

Nimble Needle shows off some Judaic canvases that look good covered in a patterned stitch and some blackwork books to help you choose the right pattern.

Sometimes the border needs to be done differently.  Linda handled it beautifully.

Barbara had a series of three Melissa Shirley designs covered in a blackwork pattern.  It looks fabulous.

Mary of Whimsical Stitch used this star pattern on a leopard canvas, changing colors in the Soie d'Alger and Petite Silk Lame Braid picked to stitch it.


Edie said...

Thank you to all for your response. Now I know what I was doing wrong. Rip and start all over again!

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

Good luck, Edie!