I wasn't thinking when I put the first topiary trees on canvas so long ago - as I was still doing everything in basketweave, and saw no problem with doing it so oriented. It also conserved canvas, as the bottom is very wide, and to put the top of the cone at the top of the canvas used more than doing it the way the photo shows.
I've been looking at it, and realize I would have difficulty stitching it, even in basketweave, as I want things upright for some reason. The first tree I stitched was sent to my mother, as she had announced that she was not going to put up a tree for Christmas that year - so I sent her my funny looking little needlepoint topiary.
I had just begun to design again, so was not acquainted with or aware of a lot of decorative stitches and novelty threads, so stitched it in baskeweave with Caron's Watercolours. The resulting diagonal stripes were not pretty. I did put little "jewels" of different colors on it with bump stitches of different sizes, and outlined them with Kreinik gold metallic braid.
Now that my ignorance of these things has somewhat been cured, and my stash of novelty threads is outrageous, I've had a lot of difficulty with the project of resurrecting the little trees. I have to be sure the background stitches lie correctly - no diagonally oriented ones would work. It was much easier when I was completely ignorant and unaware.
I decided to just practice on this first one, and am using DMC floss with Nobuko stitch - needle shaded. I stitched a very light green line in tent stitch where I'll put surface embellishement in the form of a swag of silk ribbon flowers or something spectacular - I had to have the line showing so it will be horizontal and also meet where it should when the cone is closed and finished.
In the first photo, I have stitched down to the first division for the needle blending - where I will begin using 1 ply of the darker shade and 3 of the lighter.
The second picture shows continuing Nobuko background in the second group of shades. The work then needs to be turned upside down in order to continue Nobuko to fill in the space and keep it lined up as it should be. It stops where the light green line is, as that is the place for the horizontal swag or whatever will be put there on top of the background stitching later.
ADDENDUM/NOTE: Rather than remove this post and start over, I am leaving it almost as it was - to show where I erred in judgment. I should NEVER make a blog post late at night when my reasoning/thinking is impaired. My brain wires short circuit after about 7 p.m.
Anyway, what I did here with the lines for the needle blending and the lines for the swags isn't good, and makes some really ugly looking places in the Nobuko stitch background.
Therefore, as the "swag" lines - the blue ones which I stitched in light green, should also be used as the shading lines, as it works nicely for this.
Any irregularities will be covered with surface embellishment, and it also divides the space into four sections, which is adequate - my wish is to have the tree lighter at the top and darker at the bottom, so it doesn't really matter. By doing it this way, there will be NO need to turn it upside down to fill in spaces.
If this "needle blending" technique is new to you, visit The Cape Stitcher for Anne Stradal's explanations when she uses it for skies on her beautiful lighthouses.
It's very important to keep this background stitch going properly - so you can see by the lower left arrow where I started the next row. It's actually quite simple if you understand the structure of this stitch.
The 1 and 3 ply combo will continue down to the black line, and then change to 2 and 2 plies of each shade. If it's ghastly looking, I'll trash it and start something else. It has occurred to me that these things needn't be all Christmas trees - nor do they have to be green. I can see seasonal table centerpieces with little forests of them. I have put the pattern over on Freebies, etc. for you, as well as a tutorial on how to design your own.