The Continental Stitch
This is a very basic short diagonal stitch which many of you might think of as a half-cross stitch. However, it differs from a half-cross stitch in how it’s worked.
In these illustrations I’m using plastic canvas, yarn and a large needle. It’s much easier to see for demonstration purposes - but I will reference ‘gauze’ and ‘floss’ throughout.
The continental stitch produces a diagonal stitch on the back side (instead of the short vertical stitches made by the half-cross) and therefore gives you better coverage. In this photo, notice that the two stitches look very similar from the front.
But from the back, you can see the denser coverage of the continental stitch in the lower block of stitches versus the short vertical stitches on the back of the tent stitch.
We’ll start by working horizontally, moving across the ground mesh/fabric from right to left. Come up in the lower left corner
Stitch up to the right over one intersection of the silk gauze mesh and insert your needle back into the gauze.
Your next stitch up through the gauze will come up one thread to the LEFT of where you began the first stitch.
Again, move up to the right over one mesh intersection and go back down into the gauze.
This crossing 'over' on the back creates a longer diagonal thread on the reverse side and contributes to greater stability and better coverage.
You can rotate your work to back the other direction when filling a small area or working in rows. In fact, if you are left handed, you might prefer it turned another way - just be sure your stitches are all going in the same direction.
Repeat by bringing your needle up in the lower left of the stitch.
Your needle, once again, goes back down at the upper right of the stitch. Try to avoid coming up in already filled holes where you can, but it won't always be possible.
To work a vertical row from top to bottom, begin again by bringing your needle up in the lower left corner.
Stitch up to the right over one mesh intersection.
The next stitch will come up one thread below where you started the previous stitch.
You move up and to the right again to complete the second stitch in the vertical row.
Rotate your piece as needed and don't over-think it too much. Focus on keeping the direction of your stitches consistent.
In addition to the design elements, you may also want to outline the perimeter of your design with the continental stitch. This is particularly helpful if there is a contoured border or shape such as the top of Oh My Soul or any of the silk berries. By stitching your design elements outer edges now, you simply fill in the background with basketweave stitches and you are no longer counting!
The Continental Stitch Copyright 2020. Original counted thread designs by Linda Stolz for Erica Michaels Designs.