Well, well…lookie what happened! Many of you got interested in cross-stitch!! I got a lot of questions about cross-stitch after I’ve been blogging about it lately. I honestly think cross-stitch is super hot and popular right now because of covid. It’s an easy hobby to do with minimal entry cost which is awesome.
“Jo, after looking at all the various blogs of quilters who also do cross-stitch, I’ve decided to pick cross-stitch up again. I’m struggling with working on linen, even though I have 2 large pieces that I did in my younger years that are on linen.
Your pieces are beautiful, I’m starting small with ornaments, so hopefully, I can get back in the swing of things. Thanks so much for the inspiration.”
This is a common problem. I had the problem myself. I started cross-stitching in the 80s using Aida. I loved it. I did a big Paula Vaughan piece. All of her cross stitch had quilts in it. They were beautiful. I stitched this one….
When the kids were little I stitched a lot. As they aged, I quit cross-stitching and moved to quilting. When I started cross-stitching again, I was terrible at it.
I didn’t want to stitch on Aida so I bought linen. I could not do it. I bought a pattern and everything I needed. I sat down to try, no luck. I felt like a clumsy ox. I just couldn’t wrap my head around seeing two threads and stitching over them. I quit.
Kelli bought a project at the same time and with her, it clicked. She was showing me what she was doing and I was so sad I couldn’t make mine work. Fast forward to me seeing this piece.
I loved the words on the bigger piece. I was bound and determined that I was going to figure cross-stitch out. I really wanted that stitched and in my house.
I looked up a shop that had it and found one an hour from my house. YAHOO!! Kelli and I went. I got the stuff. I told the shop owner my problem and she said get a good light with magnification.
I bought one immediately. I have this…Here is an Amazon link for it.
This didn’t make it a breeze, but it did make it easier.
I still struggled and was so slow, but I found I could do it with magnification. My first piece was far from perfect…but it was okay and I was proud of myself. I wanted to quit a couple times but spending the money on the lamp kept me in the game. I didn’t want to spend that money for nothing.
Here are some things I learned.
-The more you cross-stitch, the easier it is to see the threads. As with anything practice helps you improve.
-Once you get a few stitches into the piece, other stitches are based off the first stitches so, the more you stitch on a piece the easier it gets.
-You do get muscle memory when stitching. Your hand learns about how far the next stitch is going to be away.
So..stick with it.
“Do you have a specific magnifier you could recommend? Maybe that’s my problem.”
I think this is the same Judy who wrote the first question. I do have the magnifier I showed in the photo above. When I first bought the lamp, I used magnification ALL OF THE TIME. If I did one stitch, I used it.
Time has passed. I’ve practiced more. I not longer use the magnification portion of the lamp unless I’m stitching one floss thread over one linen thread on 40 count. Most everyone needs a magnifier for that.
My eyes are so trained now that I can stitch in the doctor waiting room without the best light. Of course, I try to sit by natural light, but, I can easily do it and I’m stitching on 40 count which is a “more advanced” linen.
You eyes truly do learn.
I stitched for awhile on 28 count…I moved to 32 and this year I finally took the dive and moved to 40 count. The reason why?? I wanted to stitch this…
By accomplishing this, I’ve gotten to a place that I want to be with my stitching. I’ve always dreamed of stitching samplers. Now, I can and I’m so glad I put in the hard work and fought through the frustrations of re-learning to cross-stitch. It was totally worth it!
“How do you know where to start on linen or working over to? Top, middle and how to determine where? Love the over two look, but just don’t know how to start a piece..thanks Jo!”
Becky this is something I struggled with when I started too. A lot of people say fold your fabric in half and half again to find the middle and start there. I hated that.
Kelli helped me learn to start in the upper left hand corner. This is what you need to do. Figure out who is going to finish your project once it’s done. If you take it to a framer, they want 2-3″ on each side of extra blank fabric. If you do it yourself, you can do 2″ for sure. So find the size of your design and add about 4″ to the width and length. That’s how big you need your fabric to be.
For example you are working on a piece that has a design size of 4 x 6. You would fabric that is 8 x 10. We added 4″ to each number. That is giving 2″ of room all around the design. Now measure 2″ in from the top and 2″ in from the side and this where to put your first stitch.
They make cute corner gauges like THIS ONE from Etsy.
You can lay this in the corner and easily see where to put your first stitch. But it isn’t anything you NEED.
“I am getting back into counted cross stitch and, while I have several good local quilt shops for quilting supplies, I find that availability of cross stitch supplies is lacking in my area.
Do you buy your linen cloth locally, near where you live, or through internet shopping? If it is through internet shopping, could you recommend a vendor? Or several, if you have more than one? Also, do you use DMC thread, or something else. When I cross stitched in the past, DMC was it…now there seem to be other brands, but I don’t know anything about them. Any information you could pass on would be very greatly appreciated. Because there is such a difference in price between DMC and the other brands, I would like to get an opinion from someone I trust to give me an honest assessment. Thanks so much!”
Well…that’s a lot of question. Let me see if I can tackle them one at a time.
Cross-stitch has taken off crazily in 2020. So many people like me and some of you who cross-stitched years ago are trying it again. I think many people got “locked up” because of covid and are wanting hobbies again. It’s wonderful.
That means, getting cross stitch supplies can be challenging. There aren’t a lot of local shops. Local shops don’t always have what we need. Shops aren’t alwasy open. Linen and floss production was effected by covid and they’ve never truly caught up. So…the first thing I want to tell you is this. Even if you try to find things online, it will likely mean ordering from more than one place.
So, I’ve had luck ordering from
–Needlecase Goodies on Etsy. Nancy owns this shop. She’s an Iowa girl and has top notch service. I’ve personally met Nancy and recommend her 100%. Her service is top notch.
–123 Stitch in online. They are good. I like the fact that if you find a chart that you like, you can often click a button and order the whole kit. That’s awesome and convenient. Shipping has been as good as can be. They have the option that if something isn’t in stock, you can be notified when it comes back in stock via email…quickest shipping anywhere.
–Fat Quarter Shop. The same Fat Quarter Shop you may have used to get quilting stuff. My personal experience is that I have waited a bit for things to get to me. It hasn’t been the post office’s problem, the orders just don’t get processed quickly…but they have a pretty good selection.
-My local shop Stitchery Nook is an hour away from me. I don’t like making the drive or going out for that matter, so…I call them or order online. I love the gals there. They have an online shop so anyone can order from them. They are pretty quick with turn around unless they don’t have it in stock.
-I’ve gotten so I am stitching more samplers. Samplers sometimes need silk thread or a different linen that isn’t stocked everywhere. For that, I’ve started using The Attic out of Mesa Arizona. They don’t have an online shop really. I just email them what I want and they fill the order. It’s not a good site to “browse”. You have to know what you are looking for.
I have ordered once from Kitten Stitcher/Shakespeares Peddler. I have good luck there too.
Now for floss. When I was first stitching back in the 80’s, I was all about DMC floss. That’s what there was. Now I’ve dabbled in other floss…
There are three main brands of cotton floss that many call “Fancy Floss”. They often have a little variegation to them. The brand are:
Classic Color Works
Weeks Dye Works
Gentle Arts (GAST)
There really isn’t a big difference between them except, Classic Color Works’ thread is already cut into lengths. Some people love that. I like it but the lengths seem a little long for me but it doesn’t stop me from using it.
Now…I took some pictures so you can see what the variegated thread does.
Check out the row of green diamonds. Can you see the slight color variegation? I think that adds so much to the piece. That row runs all the way across the piece. As a quilter who is used to mixing fabrics, I like the variegation.
Check out the red fruits on the tree…see the variegation. I like it. The fruit seems more like we would naturally see fruit.
Check out the light greenish color around the flowers. See how it looks moteled? I love that variegation. It gives the whole piece a little more depth.
For some things, I think paying the extra money for the “Fancy Floss”, is totally worth it.
For other pieces like what I stitched below…it’s not worth it and really the amount that is stitched in each color is so little that the variegation wouldn’t even show so I would not use fancy floss in a piece like this.
So…I use a mix. Some designers stick mostly with a single company. Some mix and match. I appreciate Teresa Kogut designs as she will pick seven Fancy Flosses and then DMC the rest.
Some designers like the one who did the “my soul” in the above picture called for Fancy Floss for that…Hmm. I don’t think it’s necessary.
The good news is that many give the option to use either and I often do mix and match. I’m trying to get better about substituing something different if I don’t want a certain color. For example in this..
I stitched this but don’t have purple in my house so I changed out the purple. This is much more fitting for my decor. I’m so glad I did.
I’ve watched floss tube and many talk about stitching with silk. To date, I haven’t tried that. It’s even more expensive than Fancy Floss. I did kit up a project that uses 5 silks as a treat for my birthday. I haven’t stitched on it yet but hope to soon.
I watch a floss tube by Brenda and Serial Starter. I think on every single episode Brenda (who I love) says, stitch what you want to stitch with. It doesn’t matter if it’s DMC, Fancy Floss, Aida or Linen. It doesn’t matter if it’s samplers or small pincushions. Stitch what you love. Stitching is supposed to enjoyable. I totally agree.
The longer I am stitching, the more my tastes are changing. I don’t recommend going whole hog and buying lots. Two years ago when I really jumped into cross stitch, I never dreamed I’d be stitching what I am now. I made the mistake of buying to many supplies that were 28 and 32 count. I bought to many charts that I am not longer interested in. Happily, I have sold them for about what I paid for them on a Facebook group called Stash Unload cross stitch only.
Now I’m trying not to buy too much of what I love now…and that’s samplers.
There really has been a lot of interest in cross stitch here on the blog. If I got enough interest, I would be willing to see if I could get someone to put kits together and we could all do a cross stitch along…in cross stitch world, they are call SALs (Stitch a Longs). We could all stitch the same thing. It would be small and I’d shoot videos to give you an idea how to do it from start to finish…let me know if that sounds interesting. It would be an easy beginning project.