Let’s Talk About Fabric – Part #3 Canvas

When you think about canvas needlework do you think about old tent stitch needlepoints in wool? Yeah. Me too, or at least I used to. Strange that I loved cross stitch but found those boring! 🙂 Then I discovered counted canvas work, unique ways of stitching hand painted canvases, and a whole new line of fun opened up. So today let’s talk about the myriad canvas types available.

Canvas for counted (or handpainted) needlework is a wonderful option. In the Victorian era, canvas was often linen and could be quite fine and soft, much like  a more open version of our counted linens and evenweaves. Today, canvas is stiff and holds heavy stitches in lots of different fibers really well, making it extremely versatile.

Countable canvas (as compared to tent canvas from the fabric store) today is usually cotton, and, like evenweaves, comes in many types, counts, and colors.

Interlock Canvas


Interlock canvas is one of the cheaper alternatives. This fabric uses a lighter thread than others, and is woven so that the grid patterns do not easily pull out of shape. You’ll often find interlock canvas in latchook kits, and inexpensive needlepoint kits. It can also be purchased by the yard, and usually comes in white.

Penelope Canvas

Penelope Canvas

Penelope, also known as “duo canvas,” isn’t seen as much as it used to be. French silk screened canvases are often printed on Penelope canvas. This has a special weave that makes a double stitch. Sometimes faces or very detailed parts of a design will be stitched over the smaller divisions. This is the needlepoint equivalent of stitching part of an evenweave cross stitch design “over one.”

Penelope is also the canvas of choice for “trammed” needlepoint, stitching where tent or gobelin stitch is worked over horizontally couched threads, padding it slightly and improving coverage.

I’ve seen Penelope in both brown and white, and in a variety of sizes, but the most common is 10 or 7 count.

Mono Canvas


Mono canvas is the canvas you see most often in hand painted canvases. It’s woven in plainweave, like all evenweaves, but has larger holes between the threads than those created for cross stitch. Popular canvas sizes are 13 holes per inch (HPI) and 18 HPI, although it comes in a variety of other sizes as well. In general, you’ll find mono canvas in white or hand painted, although it does come in colors, especially in the higher count fabrics, like 18 HPI.

Congress Cloth


Congress cloth has a finer weave than what is called mono-canvas, although the weave is the same. It comes in 24 count per inch, and it, too, is sized so it’s stiff. It comes in many colors and is very popular for counted canvaswork where the fabric shows through the stitching.

Like this? Try the rest of this series!

Let’s Talk about Fabric – Part 1 All Fabrics

Let’s Talk about Fabric #2 – Fabric for Counted Work


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