Ask Jo: Cross Stitch Questions

Every so often questions and comments come from readers that I think others would like to hear my response to.  That’s when I feature them on the blog.  This is one of those days. Today’s questions are all about cross stitch.

Annette asked:
Jo: I have never stitched on linen. How hard is it to stitch on?

That’s a hard one to answer. Now that I’ve been stitching on it for 4 years or so, I don’t think a thing about stitching on 40-count linen. Never once do I sit down and think it’s hard.

If you would have asked me 5 years ago…I was on the struggle bus. I was stitching on 28-count linen and had to really focus.

What’s changed? The right equipment and experience. A lot of experimenting had to happen for me to figure out what was right for me. I remember cross-stitching in the hospital when my husband was sick. I wasn’t doing the best stitching. At the time, I was stitching on some 32-count linen that was what is termed as “Old Weeks”. Meaning linen from Weeks Dye Works but it was dyed with a different base linen than they use nowadays. Now they use a Zweigert base linen when they hand-dye.

The old linen was very floppy and drapey. The holes were large and my needle regularly ended up in the wrong hole. I was miserable with that linen. In fact, that linen almost made me give up cross-stitching altogether.

I ended up starting to use Vintage Country Mocha linen along with Picture This Plus linen and things have gone really well for me. I like a tighter weave and smaller holes. I have gone on and have used Fiber on a Whim, Fox and Rabbit, Needle and Flax, and R&R linen and have liked them all as well.

Needles. I started out with just needles. I don’t even know what brand they were. A year or so down the road, I landed on Sullivan Ball Tipped Needles. These are my preferred needle. I’m sure there are other great needles out there. This is just my preference. I get them on Amazon. HERE.

People stitch in many different ways. Some people like to…

stitch in hand meaning with nothing holding their fabric. Some people have a big frame and scroll rods…some people use Q-Snaps and others used hoops.

I think a person needs to try things out and see what works for them. I’m a hoop girl. I learned that way back when I was a teenager with embroidery and have just stuck to that. THIS is my preferred hoop in my preferred size.

I haven’t tried frames…many people swear by them. For me, hoops worked and they weren’t expensive. Plus the dogs sit on my lap when I stitch and I think that would be harder with a stand.

Lighting is another topic. You need good lighting. I have this Ott lamp. It can be a floor lamp, desk, or clip-on lamp. The lamp has a magnifier and a chart holder. I love it.

I hit the jackpot in that it was the first lamp I tried and the first one I loved. There are others out there but this is my favorite. I really haven’t tried others so I can’t talk about them. But, I can say good lighting is crucial.

Magnification is the next topic when considering stitching on linen. This is probably the part that took me the longest to figure out. I have tried SO MANY things and finally am where I feel comfortable.

There are MANY options for magnification. Some people buy 4.0 readers like THESE. I have some and use them if I am stitching over one linen thread on a 40-count.

For my everyday stitching, I went online to Zenni and ordered glasses. I bought a pair of lined bifocals. The top of the glasses is my regular distance vision prescription. The bifocal has 3.5 readers in them.

I LOVE and ADORE these. I have tried so many things…so many. This is my preference.

I watch television when I stitch so I can look up and see the television and then look down and see my stitching. Before I was wearing glasses over my glasses…or getting my nose pinched by a heavy set of lighted glasses. By far, this has been the best option for me.

I really believe that with the right equipment and some determination, you can stitch on linen. My Mom always said, “If there is a will, there is a way.”

For me, when I first stitched on linen, I used the magnifier in my lamp for every single stitch. I was counting one-two over, one-two up, and put my needle in. It was so slow at first…SO SLOW!! I wasn’t the best at it at all. I was determined though…

So the final answer to the question…No, stitching on linen isn’t hard…but it was…The right equipment, the right mindset, and a lot of patience are what you need to do it!!

Another question that came was from Susan in MI:
How is linen evenweave different from other linen? I’m curious because I haven’t tried anything but Aida so far.”

Evenweave can be nice because it’s a transition fabric for those wanting a linen look but it being more uniform for users. I looked online and found this site to be great at explaining the difference between Aida, Evenweave, and Linen. I recommend reading it over. You can find it HERE.

I think that covers the most recent cross-stitch question. Please feel free to ask. I would love for you cross stitchers to chime in and share how you stitch. What needles do you use, lighting, magnification, linen…anything you can say that would help someone wanting to start cross stitching or moving from Aida to linen or evenweave. You have lots of knowledge of what works for you. Please share.

If you missed it, I announced the new stitch along. There are two options. You can read about that HERE. I’m excited to start!!

11 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Cross Stitch Questions”

  1. Wonderful information here. Yes, equipment matters – I’ve worked my way up to 36 count – haven’t tried 40 yet.
    One question. I pulled out my 20+ old Aida cloth projects that I had masked the edges on. The tape left horrible stains. Now I surge or zig zag all my raw edges. Lately, someone told me that is a waste of time. What does everyone else do? I hate the threads that keep peeling off. Thank you.

  2. @Joy – if it’s a small, fast project like an ornament, I often leave the edges unfinished. But for anything that will take longer than a few days I zig zag the edges. Doesn’t matter if I’m working in-hand, hoop, or frame. Some fabrics hold together better than others. It *may* not be neccesary but I’d rather prevent any issues.

  3. I’ve followed most of Jo’s suggestions and made a swift transition to 40 count linen, which I love for the natural look and stitching definition. I will add that your eyes ‘learn’ as you go. My first 10 stitches must have taken me 15 minutes! Then, after doing a sampler on 40 count, I switched to another linen sold as 40 but my eyes told me it was smaller. Sure enough, I measured it and found it was 43! Now, I’m ready to get the lighting system because I need more stitching hours in the day

  4. Such good information. Thank you for sharing! I might never do 40 count, but 32 is just right for me. The only reason I would like to do 40 count if for the smaller size.

  5. Cheryl in St. Paul

    I’m still scared to try, but maybe less scared than before you good advice. Thank you, Jo!

  6. Susan from Michigan

    Thanks for the explanation and link, Jo. I would like to try linen so my work doesn’t turn out so big. I don’t want to invest a lot though, because quilting has already taken up much of my time and money.

  7. Okay, I am trying to get started on my first linen project. I am always used Aida and to begin I find the center and start my first stitch there are count up and over and begin on the right. How do you find the starting place on linen.


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