Cushion - stitch consists of diagonal series of upright stitches, measuring in the sampler (C) six threads of the canvas, so that after each stitch the needle may be brought out just three threads lower than where it was put in. By working in zigzag instead of diagonal lines, a familiar pattern is produced, more often described as " Florentine " ; but the stitch is in any case the same.
The stitch at D (sometimes called Moorish stitch) is begun by working a row of short vertical stitches, slightly apart, and completed by diagonal stitches joining them.
Unless the silk employed is full and soft, this may not completely cover the canvas, in which case the diagonal stitches must further be crossed as shown on Illustration 89 (Gothic Sprig Applique).
If the linen is loosely woven, and the thread is tightly drawn in the working, the mesh will be pulled apart, giving the effect of an open lattice of the kind shown at B, on Illustration 10 (Plait And Open Canvas Stitches), in which the effect is something like drawn work; but here the threads of the linen are not drawn out but drawn together.
The way of working the stitch at E is described on page 51, under the name of "fish-bone." Worked on canvas it has somewhat the effect of plaiting, and goes by the name of "plait-stitch." It is worked in horizontal rows alternately from left to right and from right to left.
The stitch at F is a sort of couching (see page 124). Diagonal lines of thread are first laid from edge to edge of the ground space, and these are sewn down by short overcasting stitches in the cross direction.
Admirable canvas-stitch work has been done upon linen in silk of one colour - red, green, or blue - and it was a common practice to work the background leaving the pattern in the bare stuff. It prevailed in countries lying far apart, though probably not without inter-communication. In fact, the influence of Oriental work upon European has been so great that even experts hesitate sometimes to say whether a particular piece of work is Turkish or Italian. In Italian work, at least, it was usual to get over the angularity of silhouette inherent in canvas stitches by working an outline separately. When that is thin, the effect is proportionately feeble. The broader outline (shown at A, Illustration 10 (Plait And Open Canvas Stitches)) justifies itself; and in the case of a stitch which falls into horizontal lines it appears to be necessary. This is plait-stitch, known also by the name of Spanish stitch - not that it is in any way peculiar to Spain. It is allied to herring-bone stitch, to which a special chapter is devoted.
Darning is also employed as a canvas stitch.
There is beautiful sixteenth-century Italian work (in coloured silks on dark net of the very open square mesh of the period), which is most effective, and makes no pretence of disguising the stepped outline. In the very early days of Christian art in Egypt and Byzantium, linen was darned in little square tufts of wool upstanding on its surface, which look so much like the tesserae of mosaic as to suggest a doubt whether it was not worked in deliberate imitation of it.
Again, in the fifteenth century satin-stitch was worked on fine linen with strict regard to the lines of its web; and the Persians, ancient and modern, embroider white silk upon linen, also in satin-stitch, preserving piously the rectangular and diagonal lines given by the material. They have their reward in producing most characteristic needlework. The diapered ground in Illustration 9 (Cushion And Satin Stitches) (page 20) is satin-stitch upon coarse linen.
The filling-in patterns used to such delicate and dainty purpose in the marvellous work on fine cambric (Illustration 73 (Fine Needlework Upon Linen)) which competes in effect with lace, though it is strictly embroidery, all follow in their design the lines of the fabric, and are worked thread by thread according to its woof: they afford again instances of perfect adaptation of stitch to material and of design to stitch.
Satin and other stitches were worked by the old Italians (Illustration 3 (Stitching On A Square Mesh)) on square-meshed canvas, frankly on the square lines given by it, for the filling in of ornamental details, though the outline might be much less formal. That is to say, the surface of freely drawn leaves, etc, instead of being worked solid, was diapered over with more or less open pattern work constructed on the lines of the weaving.
A cunning use of the square mesh of canvas has sometimes been made to guide the worker upon other fabrics, such as velvet. This was first faced with net: the design was then worked, over that, on to and into the velvet, and the threads of the canvas were then drawn out. That is a device which may serve on occasion. The design may even be traced upon the net.