There are many different kinds of needlepoint stitches. The type of stitch used usually depends on the effect the crafter wishes to accomplish on her piece. Stitches can range from very simple to work that requires advanced skills. Commonly used stitches include the tent stitch, continental stitch, the satin stitch, the basketweave stitch, the cross stitch, the half-cross stitch, the chain stitch, and the diagonal stitch.
The tent stitch, also known as a needlepoint stitch, is one of the easiest and most commonly-used needlepoint stitches. It is a very small stitch that goes diagonally across one weft thread and one warp thread of the canvas or fabric being worked on. This will form a straight line that lies across the intersection of the warp and the weft at a 45° angle. Entire works of needlepoint can be completed using only this stitch, relying on different colored yarns to make the intended pattern instead of multiple textures created by using different stitches. There are variations within the tent stitch, including the continental tent stitch, the basketweave tent stitch, and the half-cross tent stitch. Each is very simple and basic, but produces a different effect on the canvas.
A half-cross stitch doesn't cover canvas very well when used on large fields, but it is a good beginner's stitch and does the job when just a few stitches are needed. The continental stitch provides good coverage, but distorts the canvas. The stitch that does the best job of covering canvas and keeping it in its original state is the basketweave stitch. This is generally the best one to use when covering large areas of a single color.
Advanced needlepoint stitches include bargello and other counted-thread stitches. Bargello stitches consist of simple straight stitches, but the way these vary in length and are laid out next to one another make this needlepoint technique complicated and best left to experienced needlepointers. The color in the pattern can also change frequently, making the process even more difficult.
The thread used for needlepoint stitches can be of nearly any sturdy material — wool, silk, and cotton are common, as are threads that blend these three materials together. Most needlepoint is done on canvas because the weft and warp are easy to see and stitch around. Canvas mesh can range from very fine to very large. One of the largest mesh is called plastic canvas, and is good for learning and practicing stitches.