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How To Shade Needlepoint
Learn how to shade needlepoint by choosing one of two easy methods. Many needlepoint canvases have areas of shading, like this Cat & Dog handpainted needlepoint. You needn't be daunted by this as shading in needlepoint is easy to learn.
1. How To Shade Needlepoint - Mix The Threads In The Needle.
If you are stitching with a strandable thread (i.e. one you can pull the strands apart), you can mix the strands of color within the needle. All you do is separate the strands from 2 or 3 different shades of color and put them together again by mixing them up. Here's how...
Let's say you have three colors you want to shade needlepoint with - dark blue, medium blue, light blue - and you are using a 3-ply thread. You would start in the darkest area using all 3 plies of the dark blue. Then, when you start stitching into the slightly paler blue area of the canvas, you remove one of the strands of dark blue and replace it with a strand of medium blue. As you work toward the paler color areas you keep replacing one strand with a paler strand until you are working with 3 plies of light blue.
This is a very easy way of graduating color from dark to light, or vice versa, and the stitcher has complete control over how to blend the colors. To master how to shade needlepoint by mixing threads in the needle is just one more way needlepoint can be interesting and fun.
2. How To Shade Needlepoint - Play CheckersFor non-strandable threads you cannot mix the colors in the needle. Instead, to shade needlepoint you can use a technique called checkerboarding. This is where you randomly (well, sort of) place stitches of each color so that the different colors are mixed together in an undefined pattern.
For example, you might start by threading your needle with the darkest blue and stitch in the dark area first. Then, when you get to where the canvas color starts to become paler, you can stitch every second or every third stitch with this darkest shade. Then, thread up with the medium blue and fill in between the dark blue stitches with the medium blue. You will also carry on this medium blue into the lighter blue color area, stitching every second or third stitch. Then, thread up with the lightest blue and fill in between the middle blue stitches and carry on until you are only stitching with light blue. So, it is like having a mixed thread in your needle except you are mixing the stitches on the canvas instead.
Precisely how and when you lay down your shading is up you, and is part of the creative needlepoint process. You can blend with only two colors, or you can use 4 or 5 shades of the same color family. As a rule of thumb, if it's a small area you are shading you should use fewer colors. Also, the shaded or transitional area, should be about the same size as the solid color areas on either side.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to stitch any needlepoint canvas, so have fun and experiment with blending the fibers or checkerboarding, and see what you come up with. The worst thing that can happen is you have to unpick areas you don't like the look of.
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Contact us with any questions about how to shade needlepoint. We are always happy to help.