Needlepoint is a form of counted thread embroidery in which yarn is stitched through a stiff open weave canvas. Most needlepoint designs completely cover the canvas. Although needlepoint may be worked in a variety of stitches, many needlepoint designs use only a simple tent stitch and rely upon color changes in the yarn to construct the pattern.
The degree of detail in needlepoint depends on the thread count of the underlying mesh fabric. Needlepoint worked on fine canvas is known as petit point. Due to the inherent stiffness of needlepoint, common uses include eyeglass cases, holiday ornaments, pillows.
The roots of needlepoint go back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians, who used small slanted stitches to sew up their canvas tents. Howard Carter, of Tutankhamen fame, found some needlepoint in the cave of a Pharaoh who had lived around 1500 BC.
Modern needlepoint descends from the canvas work in tent stitch, done on an evenly woven open ground fabric that was a popular domestic craft in the 16th century.Further development of needlepoint was influenced in the 17th century by Bargello and in the 19th century by shaded Berlin wool work in brightly colored wool yarn. Upholstered furniture became fashionable in the 17th century, and this prompted the development of a more durable material to serve as a foundation for the embroidered works of art.
Commercial designs for needlepoint may be found in different forms: Hand-Painted Canvas, Printed Canvas, Trammed Canvas, Charted Canvas, and Free-form.In Hand-Painted Canvas, the design is painted on the canvas by the designer, or painted to their specifications by an employee or contractor. Canvases may be stitch-painted, meaning each thread intersection is painstakingly painted so that the stitcher has no doubts about what color is meant to be used at that intersection. Alternatively, they may be hand-painted, meaning that the canvas is painted by hand but the stitcher will have to use their judgment about what colors to use if a thread intersection is not clearly painted. Hand-painted canvases allow the stitcher to give free range to their creativity with threads and unique stitches by not having to pay attention to a separate chart. In North America this is the most popular form of needlepoint canvas.(Wikipedia)