It is so-called because of the woven pattern it forms on the back of a canvas. 
basketweave stitch in needlepoint
Credit: Wendy Hollender

In needlepoint, the basketweave stitch is one that you will learn as a beginner. It's considered one of three basic tent stitches—the half-cross stitch, the continental stitch, and the basketweave stitch—any of which can be used in a needlepoint project. Tent stitches consist of a single slanted stitch of thread across the canvas intersection; therefore, they work best for the background or design motif on a stiff, loosely woven canvas. And although they are similar in theory, they look very different on the reverse.

Basketweave stitching earns its name from the woven pattern it forms on the wrong side of the canvas. These stitches are laid down staggered in diagonal rows and this securely holds the mesh threads in place—guaranteeing that the canvas will keep its original shape. This is a benefit to stitching in basketweave—the canvas is less likely to warp as you work with it and this results in sturdy, durable needlepoint.

Start with your canvas, needle and thread. Bring your threaded needle through the canvas from back to front, leaving a short tail in the back of the canvas. You will work the first several stitches over the tail to secure it and this will "anchor the thread," as it's called.

Take a good look at the weave of your canvas: You will notice "poles" or vertical canvas threads and "steps" or horizontal canvas threads. In basketweave, you work up the steps, meaning you will work from the bottom of the diagonal row upwards towards the top on the horizontal canvas thread; and you work down the poles, meaning you will work from the top of the diagonal row, downwards towards the bottom on the vertical canvas thread. Beginning at the top right hand corner of the color area and, working in diagonal rows, pull your threaded needle up through the hole at the bottom left and upper right. Repeat this step again on either side of the first stitch. When you come to the end of your stitches, weave in the tail by neatly slipping it under a few strands of thread. If you flip your canvas over to the wrong side, you will see the woven basketweave pattern that earned this stitch its name.

Checking the wrong side is also an indicator that you've done this stitch correctly. As a reminder: You should anchor your thread by running your needle under the threads either horizontally or vertically to the sides of your canvas, never diagonally; this will create a line in the stitching that will not block out. Also, never stitch two up rows or two down rows together. This will break up the basketweave pattern and, again, a line will appear in the stitches.


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