Two Pass Needlepoint Stitches

I have been investigating "two pass stitches". These are stitches that only cover half of the intersections on the canvas. You do one pass covering half, and another pass covering the other half.

These stitches have been invented and reinvented many times over the years. I discovered them when I needed "checkerboard" shading in a project.

Many people have popularized them under many different names. The late Chottie Alderson was the latest one I was aware of popularizing variants of the stitch in "official" needlepoint circles.

Besides "Checkerboard" patterns, they can also be used for plaids and other textures hard to do in one pass.

Ignoring some of the more interesting forms, I can easily describe the simplest below:

My "standard" stitch: (After one thread) [I hope your terminal is at least 80 characters wide...]

You just come up one hole, and diagonally down the next, and diagonally back up the next one... (A spiral around the fabric thread.)

     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
------------------| |-----------------------| |-----------------------| |-----
------------------| |-----------------------| |-----------------------| |-----
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | | -------- | |          | | -------- | |          | | -------- | |
     | |/ ------ \| |          | |/ ------ \| |          | |/ ------ \| |
     | | /      \ \ |          | | /      \ \ |          | | /      \ \ |
-----| |---------\ \-----------| |---------\ \-----------| |---------\ \------
-----| |----------\ \----------| |----------\ \----------| |----------\ \-----
   / | |          |\ \       / | |          |\ \       / | |          |\ \
--- /| |          | \ \------ /| |          | \ \------ /| |          | \ \---
---- | |          | |\-------- | |          | |\-------- | |          | |\----
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
------------------| |-----------------------| |-----------------------| |-----
------------------| |-----------------------| |-----------------------| |-----
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |

At this point half of the intersections on the row are covered. Then you move over one, and do exactly the same thing again.

After both threads:

     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
------------------| |-----------------------| |-----------------------| |-----
------------------| |-----------------------| |-----------------------| |-----
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
---- | | -------- | | -------- | | -------- | | -------- | | -------- | | ---- 
--- \| |/ ------ \| |/ ------ \| |/ ------ \| |/ ------ \| |/ ------ \| |/ ---
   \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /  
----\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \------
-----\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \-----
   / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \
--- /| \ \------ /| \ \------ /| \ \------ /| \ \------ /| \ \------ /| \ \---
---- | |\-------- | |\-------- | |\-------- | |\-------- | |\-------- | |\----
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
------------------| |-----------------------| |-----------------------| |-----
------------------| |-----------------------| |-----------------------| |-----
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |
     | |          | |          | |          | |          | |          | |

At this point all the intersections on the row are covered.

Observe that it looks like a tent stitch on the front, and on the back it looks exactly like it does on the front. (Actually not quite... the direction of the diagonal stitch is actually reversed, which can be used to some advantage on my two sided pieces...)

This can be used to good effect for shading, since it is trivial to alternate threads, or to checkerboard patterns.

Maybe it's actually clearer with two different colored strands...

---- | | ++++++++ | | -------- | | ++++++++ | | -------- | | ++++++++ | | ----
--- \| |++++++++++| |/ ------ \| |++++++++++| |/ ------ \| |++++++++++| |/ ---
   \ \ |++      +++ | /      \ \ |++      +++ | /      \ \ |++      +++ | /
----\ \|---------+++----------\ \|---------+++----------\ \|---------+++------
-----\ \----------+++----------\ \----------+++----------\ \----------+++-----
   ++|\ \       / |+++       ++|\ \       / |+++       ++|\ \       / |+++
+++++| \ \------ /| +++++++++++| \ \------ /| +++++++++++| \ \------ /| ++++++
++++ | |\-------- | |+++++++++ | |\-------- | |+++++++++ | |\-------- | |+++++

The most striking visual one is one that takes advantage of the diagonals being reversed on both sides... so the front looks like:

  The front looks like:          And the back of the SAME piece looks like:

       \\\\\\//////              //////\\\\\\
       \\\\\\//////              //////\\\\\\
       \\\\\\//////              //////\\\\\\
       \\\\\\//////              //////\\\\\\
       //////\\\\\\              \\\\\\//////
       //////\\\\\\              \\\\\\//////
       //////\\\\\\              \\\\\\//////
       //////\\\\\\              \\\\\\//////

With both sides looking like a tent stitch.
This is done as four adjoining pieces:

    //////  \\\\\\
    //////  \\\\\\
    //////  \\\\\\
    //////  \\\\\\

    \\\\\\  //////
    \\\\\\  //////
    \\\\\\  //////
    \\\\\\  //////

There is a lot of "playing" I do with these stitches. The second pass, for example, need not be in the direction of the first (Horizontal vs Vertical). So you can end up with something like:

---- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | |  | | | | ----
--- \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ---
   \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /
----\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \------
-----\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \-----
   / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \
--- /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \   
---- | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \  
---- | | -------- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | | 
--- \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /   
   \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | / 
----\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \------
-----\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \-----
   / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \
--- /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \---
---- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\----
---- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | |  | | | | ----
--- \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ---
   \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /
----\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \------
-----\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \-----
   / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \
--- /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \   
---- | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \  
---- | | -------- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | |  
--- \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    
   \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /
----\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \------
-----\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \-----
   / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \
--- /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \---
---- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\----
---- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | |  | | | | -------- | | | |  | | | | ----
--- \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ------ \| |/ /    \ \| |/ ---
   \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /      \ \ | /
----\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \----------\ \|---------\ \------
-----\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \----------\ \-----
   / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \       / |\ \
--- /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \     / /| \ \------ /| \ \   
---- | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \   | | | |\-------- | |\ \  

This also looks like the front of a tent stitch from both sides... but subtly different...

If you find this interesting, I'd be more than willing to discuss this with you, or anyone else interested.


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This page is http://www.cc.utah.edu/~nahaj/needlepoint/twopassstitches.html
This page last modified on March 15th, 2004.