Ask Jo: Lots of Cross Stitch Questions

I got a question from a blog reader questions about cross stitch that I thought I would answer here on the blog.

Karen asked:
I do have a question-How to you store floss? I have seen bags and 3-ring notebooks or Shaker Boxes, etc. Do you have a recommendation? I have not done cross stitch since the 1980s so back at it and enjoying it.
Thank you for this Stitch Along and for continuing with a new one.

Hmm.  I’ve tried several things on sorting and storing flosses.  Sadly, I don’t think there is one “right way”.  I think the right way is whichever one you can manage and keep up with.

Like you, I was a long-ago stitcher who came back to stitching.  Back in the day, I stored my floss like this…I would bombinate which is a term used for wrapping the floss around the cards.

I hated keeping the floss in these boxes.  At the time, I had little kids and they often came along and bumped the box and the floss went everywhere.  I can’t tell you how often I was frustrated by this.

Nowadays, I love Floss Away bags.  Find them HERE on Amazon.  I organize the DMC by number in several rings.  I organize the fancy floss in the bags too.  I keep them alphabetically by company.

I like the bags because I can write on them, put the floss in, put them on the ring, and just like that, I’m done.

I get out a piece of floss and when I’m done, I put the remainders in the bag.  When I come to use that color again, if I’m only stitching a small amount, I take the previously used leftover piece.  If I’m going to stitch a lot, I take a new fresh piece.

Personally, for me, the bags are the way to go.

When I am stitching a piece, I unhook the bags from the master ring and put them onto shower curtain rings.  Each project bag has a shower curtain ring of floss that is specific to that project.  I keep about 10 projects kitted up at a time.  I typically don’t put linen in the bag…just the chart and floss.  Once I get close to finishing something I find linen from my stash for the next project.

Many people keep their floss on Thread Drops.  I don’t like the work of cutting the thread and putting it on the “drop”.  HERE is a kind from Amazon.  Stitchers hook their floss into the bottom hole.

If you want to learn more about these, I would recommend THIS video.  I think Judy at Patchwork Times uses this method so maybe she’ll do a post about floss drops…or maybe she already did.  I really don’t know enough about it to say a lot more.

Mary asked:
“Another question, Jo – what color floss did you switch to in your Christmas Seasons of the Heart? Did the called for color not work on the vintage country mocha?”

Mary is referring to this piece.

I said in my Friday Cross Stitch update that I had trouble that the color Olive that was called for with my linen (called for Vintage Country Mocha) didn’t show up.  The color I was supposed to use was Olive.  I used Endive.  It was another called for color…just not in that section.  It’s the upper thread in the picture below.

From my experience, Vintage Country Mocha linen is pretty standard.  The color seems to always be close to the same.  Floss sometimes changes though.  I might have a newly dyed skein.  The designer maybe has a skein from years ago.  This often happens.

My Olive was more gold than green.

In general, great greens to use as substitutes are:
Gentle Arts Endive
Weeks Dye Works Oscar

Both of these were already called for in the chart.

Kathy said:
“Jo, on the first piece you showed in the post, it looks like you are off a stitch between the first and second motif in the top row.”

She’s right.  I am.  I knew this.  I decided to leave it and see if it’s noticeable once it’s all stitched.  This pattern doesn’t keep going across the top so it doesn’t interrupt the rest of the border.  If I don’t like it after everything else is stitched, I’ll rip it out and restitch.

Thanks for the heads up!

Another Mary asked:
“Jo, can you explain “working copy”. Why is it advantageous and how do you use it? I’m assuming it is a photocopy of the chart.”

I showed this picture and said I was making a working copy.

Mary is right….A “working copy” is a photocopy of the chart.  When I do mine, I overlap the edges and tape the sheets together to make the chart into one GIANT piece.

I love a working copy.  I am terrible at leaving off one page of the chart and starting on the next page.  My brain just doesn’t move from one page to the next very well.

I also love to see the whole chart together.  Looking at one page doesn’t give me a very good sense of how much I’ve stitched.  It doesn’t allow me to jump around and stitch what I want as easily.

The other night I took my working copy to bed with me and studied the chart.  I could see that the dividing line that I started stitching is not going to go all the way across.  It’s going to run into the hill that is in the bottom middle.  Normally some of that is hard to visualize because it’s actually on two different pages.

I have also taken a marker and written on the sheet things like a thread color change.  I might circle a motif that is over a stitch or two so I don’t use that base other stitches on.

The working copy gets folded and crinkled and I don’t care.  I also like having one as a “safety net”.  One time I “lost” a page of the chart.  I looked everywhere for it.  I was just sick.  I didn’t want to have to buy another chart for that one page.  UGH.  I had the working copy and was totally okay.  I ended up finding the page after the piece was stitched.  It somehow ended up with a different chart.

Stephani in North Texas asked:
Wonder if you can tell me how I can access the Love and Joy Come to You piece. I’m a former stitcher, but up to my ears in quilts now. I love that piece, would like to stitch it if I can find it.”

This is a Heartstring Samplery chart.  I think it’s only available PDF but don’t quote me.  HERE is the link.  It’s called Love and Joy.

Ginger asked:
“I love, love, love your All Creatures piece. It is on my “want to do” list. I think it calls for Anchor floss and I’m excited to try those. What linen are you using? I love what you have done so far!”

I fell in love with this long before I thought I could stitch something so big.  I bought the chart anyway hoping one day I might be able to stitch it and ….HERE I AM!  I smile about that every time I go to sit and stitch.

YES.  It is stitched with Anchor Floss.  Spools of floss are only 70 cents or so.  It’s really not an expensive piece to stitch. I believe the called for is Vintage Country Mocha and that’s what I’m using.  As far as linen goes, that’s economical linen.  I haven’t had any trouble with any flosses so far.  I did change the fuchsia color to Anchor #20.  It’s more of a red-red.

I think that covers the question about cross stitch that came in.  That was a lot!!  I’m always happy to answer them so feel free to keep asking.

11 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Lots of Cross Stitch Questions”

  1. Look for a box in your mail. Included is the linen piece that I ordered for Blessings. Just could not work on something that small so switched to 14 ct oatmeal and it looks good. Also included a quilt top with back and some other quilting things, 9 patches and extra squares, etc.

  2. Judith Fairchild

    One thing about your cross stitch blogs it makes me want to try again. I tried it years ago and couldn’t do it my niece that does it couldn’t help me she said sit down find the center of my cloth and chart and just do it. It was a mess. The way you do it makes sense. Thanks I found my floss and linen now to order the chart and do it. Thanks Jo.!!!

  3. Maralou Spear

    Thanks so much for linking the floss drops video. Very interesting, being a newer stitcher I found this most interesting.

  4. Gail L Piper

    Thanks for sharing all the info!
    I keep my floss in bags too and use binder rings to keep them together. I also keep one project’s worth of bags together on a ring – makes it so easy to keep a project together! That said, I use the snack-size zipper-type bags, use a hole punch to make a hole in one corner of the heavy plastic near the zipper, and put little stickers from the office supply department on them to write the number. (That’s what was available in my area at the time…) These bags are a thinner plastic and do deteriorate over time, but I can replace them easily as needed. Like Jo, I like being able to keep the leftovers corralled!

  5. I actually started with the floss away in the late 80s then changed to the bobbins in the box method. Now that I’m branching out I’m trying to decide if I want to keep it like that. I bought an accordion style sewing box and the two bobbin boxes fit inside, but they are packed full and it’s not so easy to take bobbins out lol. I have the special threads lying in the little sections… gotta figure out a better plan. I’m on the last 2 Blessed pumpkins, and again the white one is a beast to stitch. Anyone else having trouble with the white pumpkin? How are you coming on yours, Jo? I received the new kit this past week. They included sweet little extra pin thingies. I’ll have to research how they are used. Blessings

    1. I just tried to start the first white pumpkin and it wasn’t showing up. I’m stitching on Antique White evenweave for the first time. I changed the white colored floss for a lighter, brighter orange. I also made a couple of mistakes on the vine parts so my stitch count is off a little but I’m leaving the mistakes in. Can’t really see them unless you know where the are or do all the counting to find them. All my older floss is in bobbing boxes and the rest kitted in plastic bags with the charts. I have 4 boxes almost full. If you decide to stay with the boxes, I got mine at Hobby Lobby pretty inexpensively. Good luck with your white pumpkins!

      1. Thanks Sherry, I finished that last pesky white pumpkin then made a bad mistake on its vine lol. It’s all fixed now though. I agree, if a mistake is minor I leave it. Just call it artistic interpretation! I won’t need to make a decision on floss storage until I start “And a Tree Grew” which takes like 103 colors. I’m sure I have many of them, but will most likely outgrow the boxes if I need to add more than a few.

  6. Thanks for answering my question Jo. Just received my Red Bird kit and looking forward to trying out silk thread. I am currently working on Big Red House by La-D-Da. I saw it on one of Judy’s posts and loved it. I have another question for you. I thought I saw you mention somewhere about filling your pillows with a combination of fiberfill and walnut shells. If you did, could you direct me to the post? Thanks so much for all you do!!!

  7. my floss is kept in daily pill zip style bags. a bit smaller in size, label for writing, yet easily found at big chain stores

  8. I started cross stitching again about seven years ago. I kept my flosses on bobbins too at that time. This time, I switched to 4×6 bags with a white note card in it; at the top right corner I wrote the thread number. I can put one skein or multiple skeins in it and put any remaining thread left from a project. I keep the threads in photo boxes (I currently have seven boxes filled). I have a box of similar size that I keep my working thread bags in (I almost donated it and then realized I could repurpose the box). I got this idea off a Facebook cross stitching group I’m on.

    1. I do the exact same thing and I love it! The only difference is that I use the snack sized Ziplock bag. I don’t know the exact size.

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