Directional Light

June 7, 2016Stitches, Threads Standard

Christmas ribbon stocking, a Napa Needlepoint design

This background features a thread and stitch with directional light copyright Napa Needlepoint

You may have wondered why does the color of my needlepoint thread change when the direction of the stitch changes. This aspect of some threads is called directional light.

The reasons for it have to do with the way light reflects of the surface of some fibers. In these threads, change the direction of the stitch and the light reflects in the opposite direction.

Some threads, like pearl cotton or Silk & Ivory have lots of directional light. Others made from the same fiber, like embroidery floss, have little. Still others, like wool, have none at all.

Why should you care?

interlocking chevrons bargello needlepoint diagram

Interlocking Chevrons Bargello Needlepoint, copyright Napa Needlepoint

This Bargello pattern really looks great in threads with directional light.
This is an aspect of needlepoint thread you should either use to your advantage or avoid in a piece. Let’s say you are using this Bargello stitch, called Interlocking Chevrons. It’s a pretty complex stitch and one which has lots of pattern in it to begin with. It’s the background for the stocking above.

But you want it to be a background. Then choose to stitch it in Persian Wool or floss, so that the only change comes from the direction of the stitches, not from the color change of the thread.

Another way to avoid problems if you are using a stitch like Alternating Diagonal Gobelins, would be to switch to a non-alternating version of the stitch.

If you want to have changes in color to reinforce the change in direction, use a thread with directional light. In the stitched sample above, you can see how wonderful this same stitch looks when done in Silk & Ivory.

I love this aspect of needlepoint thread, it allows you, once you realize what threads have it, to make subtle effects easily just by changing the direction of the stitches. They add richness to your needlepoint for little effort.