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Stitching Dark Canvases in Needlepoint

Good lighting is essential for needlepoint.  This is especially true if you are stitcing needlepoint canvases that are dark in color.  They are often hard to see because you're stitching them with dark threads - dark upon dark is not a good combination when it comes to being able to see much detail. We have some tips for making dark canvases easier to see and stitch.

Here's what dark-colored threads, stitched upon a dark color on the needlepoint canvas, look like when lying upon a dark fabric (in this case a pair of black pants!).

dark needlepoint canvas with dark threads  
 Dark brown threads on dark brown canvas stitched on a dark colored lap and photographed in daylight. Dark brown threads on dark brown canvas stitched on a dark colored lap and photographed at night.  Visibility is made worse by shadows from the lamp.

Here are some tips for illuminating an otherwise dark situation.

Tip 1: Use White Behind Your Dark Needlepoint Canvas.

Look what happens when you lay a white cloth underneath the canvas. The cloth reflects light and makes the dark stitches easier to see. You could hold a white napkin or handkerchief in your non-needle hand as you stitch to reflect the white light up through the holes in your canvas.

stitching dark colors in needlepoint
The dark colors become easier to see when held against white fabric.

Tip 2: Apply Talc to Highlight a Dark Needlepoint Canvas.

This is a tip we got sent in on our tips page and it turns out to be rather useful. If you sprinkle a bit of (unscented) talcum powder onto your canvas, before you stitch, the white powder will allow you to see the dark threads of the canvas. Talcum is harmless to your canvas and threads, and it easily brushes off again. Use a make-up or men's shaving brush to brush the talc across your canvas. You will probably need to reapply it each stitching session. This sounds weird but, remarkably, it works!

Tip 3: Invest in a good table lamp or a clip light:

Mighty Bright clip light daylight lamp
                            Hammer Head Clip light                 Smart Lamp - desk light

Although daylight is the best thing for illuminating any work space, we can't always stitch in the afternoon.  Fortunately, we have a few inexpensive options.  The Hammer Head clip light is perfect for travel and can even be used on a book.  You'll need to frame your needlepoint canvas with stretcher bars so that the clip has something to old onto.  Another option is the Smart Lamp desk light.  It's light and easy to move from a desk, to a sofa table.  We prefer these options but there are many other models and strengths widely available.  Click HERE to try them out.


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