I'm shocked at how much I use the simplest of darning stitches...and how many things I use it for. Just in the past month, I used the darning stitch for snow on the ground, a window, furniture, the sky, and a background. It is an understated stitch with amazing versatility.
I used Kreinik Very Fine Braid #4 on 18 mesh to stitch the window. I used white Flair to create the snow...a decision made because the shading of the snow would show through. And, alternating rows of thread types (Elegance and Shimmer Ribbon), I created a background. It's easy and the end result is gorgeous as it truly highlights the artistry of the painted canvas.
Darning stitches run a straight line (in any direction) across the canvas, providing a softer feel, versus the traditional diagonal needlepoint with crisp wrapped rows.
Darning stitches start from the outer edge of the area to be stitched. When you reach the end of the row, move to next row immediately below where you ended and stitch back across. Always ensure you have enough thread to complete a row as a darning stitch should only be ended at the end of a row. If you end it in the middle of a row, there will be a crisp pull on the thread, disrupting the soft flow of the darning stitch.
The darning stitch I use the most is the basic running stitch. Over three, down one, over one and up again to repeat the pattern from one side of the canvas to the other. Then repeat on the row below centering the over three beneath the skipped row in the row above.
I googled "needlepoint darning stitch" as I prepared this blog and was stunned to find articles on it that go as far back as 1982. This simply means I'm not the first person to share this with you. However, I hope you can see some additional possibilities for it.