If Jo Ippolito Christensen can leave backgrounds unstitched as shown in this piece from the 3rd Edition of The Needlepoint Book, why shouldn’t I? (Click on the image to view the detail of the background. It is only partially stitched and the printed canvas is exposed.)
I was almost there with my Four Hour Needlepoint Ornament but this is one step further. A belt would be my test piece. Many of our Needlepoint belt designs are ideal for this technique. The backgrounds are solid and the images, like the surfboards and sailboats, are colorful and sharp.
Stitching these two belts went as fast as riding the waves. The only thing one needs to pay attention to is keeping on the thread ends within the stitched areas because the background will be unstitched canvas through which the thread ends will be visible.
Looking closely at the stitched surfboard, you can see that I also look the liberty of slanting the continental in two different direction. The top slants to the left and the bottom to the right, while in the center I used a straight stitch over one canvas thread. (Note: a straight stitch over one thread needs to be worked very loosely, and only works here because it was worked after the top and bottom of the surfboard was completed.) Working the top and bottom of the surfboard with two different slants has the advantage of giving smooth edges to the circle and rounded edges of the design. I used this technique on some of the surfboards and on part of of the sailboats. I was please with my finished canvases!