Tent Stitch is the basic needlepoint stitch.
It is a single stitch that covers one canvas thread on the diagonal. It's that basic tiny stitch that you have seen in needlepoint forever. Look at a canvas intersection and cover it with thread the same color as painted. Pretty Straight forward, yes?
For the purposes of needlepoint, Tent Stitch can be executed as either a Continental Stitch or Basketweave.
Begin at the top, right side of an area, bring your needle up at 1 and down at 2 covering one canvas intersection.
Continue across the row.
Rows work right to left.
Stitches slant from California to Maine.
When you reach the end of the row, flip your canvas upside down.
Rows still work right to left.
Stitches still slant from California to Maine.
Continue in this manner, flipping the canvas at the end of each row.
As you get more comfortable with the stitch you will no longer need to flip your canvas. The backside of your canvas should always look as shown below. If you see short vertical stitches you are not following the correct stitch order. You have slipped into Half Cross Stitch. Yes, Half Cross Stitch is also a Tent Stitch but we rarely use it for needlepoint.
Basketweave will look just like Continental Stitch on the front of the canvas. It creates a woven pattern on the back of the canvas. Whenever possible (aka whenever your area is big enough) use Basketweave, it will distort your canvas less than Continental and because of the weaving of the threads on the reverse of the canvas it creates a stronger finished project. Think chairseats.
Instead of working rows from right to left as you did in Continental, you will work diagonal rows of stitches.
Continue working diagonal rows up and down the canvas.
Look at your canvas carefully. Some canvas intersections have the horizontal thread of the canvas weave on top and others have the vertical thread on top. It's important to pay attention to this.
The rows where you work up the diagonal should cover horizontal canvas threads on the canvas. The rows that work down the canvas should cover vertical canvas threads on the canvas.
Next up we will talk about starting and stopping threads.