By Vivian Ver Huel
One of my favorite crafts is doing plastic canvas projects. There are a wide variety of patterns and items made from plastic canvas, and I like some of them much better than others. I prefer to work on smaller projects, such as Christmas ornaments, coasters, and building blocks for toddlers, as opposed to larger things like tote bags or wall hangings. As with any craft, it is important that you choose projects you like.
There are numerous pattern books available as well as websites with patterns, but I find it much easier to purchase finished projects at craft shows. I can then either duplicate it or use it to get ideas on stitches and designs.
Plastic canvas usually comes in 7 count–having seven holes per inch. It is available in full sheets, which are scored with raised lines at every 10th hole. This makes it much easier to count holes when cutting patterns. In addition to full sheets, it is available in some precut shapes such as stars, circles, and hearts.
There are two weights of plastic canvas, regular and stiff. Most of the colored sheets and precut shapes are cut from regular weight canvas. Personally, I prefer to work with the stiff canvas for most of the projects I do. I find it easier to work with. Because it is more sturdy, there is more resistance when cutting patterns, which helps you keep count of how many holes you are cutting. Also, the holes themselves are easier to feel since the stiff canvas is a bit more rigid. Stiff canvas is usually only available in clear.
For most projects, four-ply worsted yarn works very well. It fills in the canvas nicely and is also quite easy to feel.
I find the #16 needles to be a good size for threading the yarn but still passing it through the canvas without much resistance. If you have difficulty threading the needle, wide-eyed needle threaders are available at craft stores. This is a flat metal piece with a hook along the flat edge. You simply slip your yarn onto the hook and pass the threader through the eye of the needle, pulling the yarn through.