I’ve gotten tons of questions for blog readers about cross stitch. Seriously, I think cross stitch is the new and upcoming craft that people are getting into. So many of you cross stitched in the past and since have given it up for quilting. If you’re like me, you still love quilting, but have enough quilts on hand to cover a small tribe so at some point you wonder if you really want to keep making so many of them. So, maybe spending some time on cross stitch might give you a little break from quilting and keep both hobbies alive.
So I thought I would give you a little overview on where I was in cross stitch back in the early 90s to where I am today…how I made the transition and what I recommend.
I started counted cross stitch when I was in highschool. I did a lot of embroidery and candlewicking…I made a piece like this…
I loved doing it and it was actually my project for the county fair.
After college and kids…I had three kids under three, I moved on to cross stitching. The kids would play in the living and I would stitch. It was portable, didn’t take a lot of room and was easy to quickly put away. I worked for a long time on making the long Sunbonnet Sue piece that is in the middle this pamphlet.
I don’t think I ever finished it but know I was more than halfway done. It’s long gone now.
I was also in love with Paula Vaughan. All of her cross stitch had quilts in it. They were beautiful. I stitched this one….
Again, it is long gone.
Cross stitch of the 90s had lots of backstitching. That’s the stitches that border the actual things. For example, see the hat in the photo above? Look at the ribbon coming off the hat. You can see that it is outlined. All of that is backstitching. Many cross stitchers aren’t fond of back stitching. Also classic 90s cross stitch had half and quarter stitches. Back stitching and the half stitches aren’t popular in current cross stitch. Phew…that’s a relief, right?
The other thing cross stitch of the 90s was known for…
Aida cloth for stitching
What got me back into cross stitching??? This…
I was in love. I wanted to make it. I was ready to give cross stitch another shot. The problem for me. Where to find it.
Back in my day, I got my cross stitch stuff at the Ben Franklin in Waseca Minnesota….or a similar store in Owatonna. To my knowledge, I never knew about a cross stitch shop. Let me tell you, things have changed.
After some hunting I found out that there was a shop in Osage, Iowa called The Stitchery Nook. Kelli and I made the trip.
Happily they had the kit and I almost didn’t buy it. There wasn’t Aida cloth in the kit, there was linen. I was at a big cross road. I wanted the exact look and to get that, I had to do linen. I decided to take the plunge and give it a try. For those of you that don’t know, here is the difference between linen, evenweave and aida.
Aida has hole that are really easy to see. Your needle come up one hole and goes in the hole kitty-corner…..That’s it on the left. On the right is how to stitch on linen or evenweave. There, you go over two threads….seen on the right.
Aida is MUCH easier. It’s straightforward….but I like the look of linen and for me, it was worth giving it a try.
Now there is something else out there called evenweave. That means that he threads are “even in thickness”. It is the next level up from aida on easy of stitching.
Now, there is also straight up linen. That is in the picture on the far right. The thread of the weft and warp are not uniform. Often there will be a fat thread in there making it harder to uniformly work as you stitch.
Back in the 90s, all I knew about was Aida so making the jump was going to be a challenge…but it was a challenge I wanted to take.
The ladies at The Stitchery Nook were super helpful and talked to me about lights and magnifiers. I felt hopeful. I didn’t know how much money I wanted to put into this one project as at the time, I didn’t know that I was diving back into cross stitch but I wanted to give it a real try and in order to that, I thought I would need a light. So still feeling hopeful, Kelli and I ended up deciding on this light for me. Here is the LINK.
I went home and struggled for a bit but by the time I was done with the Gratitude project, I as confident I could cross stitch. I wasn’t fast, but I was doing it. I think the light and magnifier really helped.
Then I learned how expensive framing was. OH MY WORD!! That’s about the time that a blog reader suggested I buy thrift store frames and have Kramer cut them down. We did that!!
I went on to love the designer of the first “Gratitude” piece I stitched. That designer is Lizzie Kate. That designer retired and I bought several of her patterns as shops cleared them up on deep discounts. Her patterns are a little cheesy and folksy but nice. Many are seasonal and can be changed out from season to season or month to month.
From there I started liking Little House Needleworks. I stitched these…still haven’t fully finished them…
These were my therapy while Kramer was sick and after he passed.
I like a lot of her designs. She does a lot of series. I laugh hilariously at how much trouble I had when I stitched the first one, to how little trouble I had finishing the last one. Each of them has a border and getting them at matchup is a real issue. It took me LOTS of ripped out stitches to do the first one.
My goal isn’t to have the house plastered with cross stitch pieces. My goal is to make projects that are meaningful to me regardless of how long they take or even the size.
Before long, I plan on starting a sampler. I bought stuff for two and think I’ll stitch this one first….
That doesn’t mean I won’t keep stitching on some small projects too…I just want to do a masterpiece project and I think this one qualifies. It will be slow going. It’s on 40 count linen.
For those of you who don’t know about cross stitch, linen comes in different “thread counts”. That means how many threads are woven in an inch. 28 count is common. That means for every inch there are 28 threads. 30 and 32 count are popular too. 40 count is a more challenging. That means there are 40 threads woven across every inch of fabric. When a person makes a stitch, they go over 2 of those threads. That means at 28 count, there are 14 stitches in an inch. At 40 count, there are 20 stitches in one inch. That is a big difference.
If you are starting out, I recommend aida or 28 count linen. They are the same. sized.
As I’ve stitched, I’ve learned what I like and what I don’t like. If any of you are jumping into cross stitch you will likely do the same. My preference has gotten to be Picture This Plus as far as linen goes. I like it soft…some people don’t like it because it’s soft.
If you’re a cross stitcher from the 90s you likely stitched in a hoop. Hoops have changed for the better. There are great non-slip hoops that are so much nicer. They have them at Hobby Lobby and aren’t expensive.
Some people don’t use a hoop -that is called “stitching in hand”. Some have a setup like this…
There are models that stand on the floor too.
Some people use a Q-Snap.
I prefer a hoop. I have cheap no-slip ones from Hobby Lobby. The point I’m trying to make in telling you all of this is that if one thing doesn’t work for you, try something else if you are really determined to try cross stitching.
They are more expensive but I don’t care…I like them much better. Make sure that you use some type of needle that is labeled “cross stitch”. The points and blunt and don’t catch in the fabric.
Thread has changed too…Before it was mostly DMC and Anchor. Now there are LOTS of floss companies. Some of the biggest are Weeks Dye Works, Classic Colorworks and Gentle Arts. These are all hand dyed flosses. They are expensive. A pack of DMC can be bought for 50 cents…the hand dyed are $2.50 a pack. That’s a big difference.
Charts typically come with the option to use either DMC or the hand dyed sometimes known as “fancy floss”. Personally, I like fancy floss for large areas. For example if you were stitching a big barn, the fancy floss variegates the color from darker red to lighter- looking like an actual barn. I think it makes the stitching softer looking and more realistic. So if I’m doing a piece I often use a mixture of each…I’ll use cheaper DMC in small areas and the expensive fancy floss in larger areas.
As far as stitching goes….I’ve learned to “do the sewing method”. You can watch this video to learn more about that.
When I first started I did this method where the stitcher does the first slant of the “x” all the way across and then comes back and does the second slant.
I do the sewing method now like the video shows and like my stitches MUCH better. Try both and see what you think.
Here are some shops online that I recommend
Needlecase Goodies on Etsy
Nancy owns this shop. She is local to me and has fast reasonable shipping.
Fat Quarter Shop
Yep the same Fat Quarter Shop you buy fabric at, now has cross stitch.
I don’t like them as well as other places but they sometimes have stuff if I can’t find it at the the other two places.
There are others but this is who I have the most experience with. Of course, always type “cross stitch shop” into google and see if you can find one close to you.
If you are looking for a cross stitch blog, check out Priscilla.
There are TONS of other ones…just type “flosstube” into the search bar on youtube. I’ve just listed my favorites.
Here are some of the reasons why I think cross stitch is become so popular:
-It’s a cheap craft to try. I think for $25 you could buy a hoop, needle, cloth, thread and a chart….
-It’s portable. I did a lot of stitching in the hospital with Kramer.
-There are so many options. There are things like I stitch, to primitive to even this chart on Etsy.
You can stitch things to hand, to Christmas stockings, to pincushions….there are many options.
-It’s something you can do while you watch television. I’ve even cross stitched while the kids are home while we visit.
-It doesn’t take up a lot of space. You don’t need “an area” to keep your supplies. You might want a ziplock bag but that’s about all you need. Of course that’s only if you can control the urge not to buy everything.
There’s a lot more about cross stitch but I think this is enough to give you a starting point to jump in at. If I were to start, I’d buy a little project like this…
These are Lori Holt’s Stitch cards. Each is an individual design. They aren’t big…so you don’t need much cloth. It’s something that you’ll finish fairly quickly. There isn’t a lot of color changing or thread buying. The Fat Quarter Shop has them HERE.
Let me know if I enabled any of you or if you have more questions….Sorry, but I’ve so enjoyed cross stitching and think some of you might too.
One last thing…If something doesn’t work for you, try a different way. If you don’t like the needles, try a different brand. If you can see, get a magnifier or better light. If there’s a will, seriously, there really is a way.