Cross Stitch Update

Before I get into my stitching progress I thought I would answer a question or two.

Roxie asked:
Hey Jo,  I haven’t cross-stitched for years but started a project on linen, Boy it’s a challenge. Do you have any pointers to help a new stitcher? Enjoy your day.”

I have a few things to suggest…The first is to keep trying.

I stitched back in the late ’80s and early ’90s.  Back then I stitched on Aida.  I honestly didn’t know people stitched on linen. If they did, I had no idea where they would have purchased it at.  Remember back then there was no internet-no floss tube.

Then in 2015 or so, we made plans to meet up with blog reader Ila.  She lives near Chicago.  We decided to meet halfway or so in between her house and my house. My oldest two girls Kelli and Kayla wanted to ride along.  The girls and I decided to hit up a few quilt shops on the way.  Country Sampler in Spring Green Wisconsin was a place we stopped.  We had no idea they had cross stitch there.

Well, Kelli was all about it and super excited to start cross-stitching.  She ended up buying stuff to stitch.  I was scared to even try but in the spirit of comradery, Kayla and I both bought stuff for a project too.

It was the first time I tried linen.  Oh my.  What a mess.  I kicked myself for spending the money.  This was not going to work for me at all.  I was disappointed.  The stitching bug caught Kelli.  She was stitching right and left and I was happy for her but sad for me.  I just couldn’t see the holes.  Counting over the two holes seemed like such a task.   I gave up.

Fast forward a bit.  I saw this…

B51 Gratitude Turns What We Have into Enough Inspiration Boxer
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.

I search and was excited to learn that there was a shop an hour away from me and they had the chart.  Kelli and I made plans to go to The Stitchery Nook in Osage Iowa.

The gals there were super helpful.  I told them how scared I was to spend the money on yet another project that I might not be able to do.  There happened to be a retreat happening.  The gals took up upstairs and we crashed the retreat.  They showed us all the different magnifiers and equipment the gals had.  It was very helpful.

I ended up going immediately to JoAnn’s and bought this lamp.  You can find it HERE on Amazon.


I was super determined.  I really wanted to stitch the chart that I bought.  I was so determined.  I am so glad I kept trying.

Here are the things I learned:

Determination matters.  Be willing to try and try again.

When I started I stitched I was so slow.  I used the magnifier all of the time.  As I went I started being able to see the holes.  My hand started having some “muscle memory”.  I got so my hand got into a rhythm and it knew how far my needle needed to go.  So in reality my hand and eyes got to working together.

I learned that the first few stitches in any piece are typically the hardest stitches for me.  The linen is blank.  There are no landmarks to reference meaning there is not another motif to count from.  Also, once the first row is stitched, I could use that row to reference the row that I stitched above it.  As my piece builds, there are more and more rows I can reference from.  There are more and more landmarks to use as a reference.  Each piece gets easier and easier the more stitches that are in a piece.

Good lighting is important.  I prefer lighting that is over my head.

I can suggest this or that for magnification but truly you have to try for yourself.  For me, I have glasses from Zenni that were made especially for stitching.  I have 3.5 magnifiers in the bottom bifocal and regular glasses on top.  It is what has worked best for me.  If I am stitching 1 floss thread over 1 linen thread I occasionally use the magnifier on my lamp.  Anymore, I really don’t use the magnifier on the lamp.  I sure needed it in the beginning though.

As with starting any new hobby…give yourself grace.  Your first piece won’t be perfect.  Knowing that, stitch small projects at first.  Get a few under your belt.  I was stitching for about 18 months when I finally jumped into a bigger project.  It was my Newcastle Bouquet.

Teresa Kogut is the designer of this.  I just knew I loved it enough to make it work.  I had never stitched with one thread.  I had never stitched on 40 count.  I was filled with determination and I didn’t care how long it took me to stitch.  So my other suggestion is to completely and totally fall in love with what you’re stitching.  Fall in love so hard that you are determined to stitch even if you’re slow.  Even if you might want to quit.

Now, onto what I got stitched…
I started my next block of Anniversaries of the Heart.   This is technically the November block. This one is being stitched for my husband’s Mom’s side of the family.  They came from the Germany/Poland area I believe during the WWI time period.  They settled in the Fenimore Wisconsin area, in fact, my husband’s mom was born there.  The family later moved to the Grand Meadow/Stewartville area in Minnesota.

Here is how far I got before I got stuck.  Check out the picture.  I started stitching the house.  You can see a few stitches on the left side of the house near the roof.  The called for Toasted Barley floss is not showing up.  My Toasted Barley is tan, not gray as the picture shows.  This is VERY common in stitching these charts.  That’s why I encouraged anyone who is starting this to NOT BUY all the called for floss.  So often it doesn’t work.


Well…I ended up pulling the stitching out and finished stitching the roof and then the tree.

The next day I pulled some floss to try on the house.  I ended up pulling Dolphin for the house and Blackboard for the windows.  I didn’t get a chance to try it before I wrote this blog post.  Hopefully, it will work.


This is as far as I got.  For the most part, all that is left is the house and the big box at the bottom with the names.
My hope is to have this done next week when I show you my progress.  Then I can move on to the last regular block.

I didn’t get much stitching done this week.  I had two days that I didn’t put in a single stitch.  I had family things going on and that’s much more important.

I am excited about my progress.  I am so glad I am putting the hours into Anniversaries of the Heart.  I really want to push for a finish.

I worked on A Changed World only one evening.  It’s hard to accomplish much especially if that means only one hour or so…this week I squeezed in an extra night working on it so I actually got more done than usual.

Here is where I was last week.


Here is where I am this week.


I was dreading stitching the basket with the blue flowers.  I had so much trouble stitching the basket that was on the opposite side that I was sure I was going to have trouble stitching this basket too.  I didn’t at all.  I finally figured out the pattern of it.


Then I moved and started the tree in the middle.  There are supposed to be x’s in between the green x’s you see but I am kind of confused.


Look at the pattern cover.  Doesn’t it look like it’s white in alternate x spot?


The called for color according to the chart is 934 and that is a dark green.  Hmm.  I don’t know what to do about that.  I left it for now and will come back and look at it when I’m finished and decide what to do.


I did all of the stitching to the left of that tree this week too.  Next week I hope to finish those trees and stitch the birds that go on top of the yellow flower.

Once I am finished with the section that I am on, I think I will be getting close to halfway on the chart…but the bottom half of the chart is more stitch heavy so that doesn’t mean I will be done anytime soon.

I’m hoping the saying slow and steady wins the race as I am really slow with this.

I got a sweet email that included a gift card from a friend to 123Stitch.  I was doing a little happy dance.  I haven’t placed my order yet but I’m getting close to knowing what I’m going to order.  Having a gift card really makes shopping fun!

I’ll tell you what I picked once it comes in the mail.

That’s all there is here in my stitching world.  I’m writing this on Thursday night. I’m off to make some supper, take a shower, and then it’s stitching for me tonight.  YAHOO!!

21 thoughts on “Cross Stitch Update

  1. Kathy

    Jo, is it possible you are looking at the wrong symbol on the color chart? It looks to me that the symbol on the stitching chart has 3 little branches, and the color chart symbol you are looking at for color 934 has only 2.

    Reply
  2. Gretchen Weaver

    I think all your counted cross stitching projects are beautiful, sounds like this is a wonderful, relaxing evening projects to work on in front of the TV. I’m seeing more and more cross stitching on blogs again and I’m tempted to get started. But I already have a hand applique and a hand quilting project to keep me busy for hand work. I also have an EPP projects I’ve love to start. Thanks for sharing, happy stitching and have a great weekend!

    Reply
  3. Kate

    I enjoyed reading about your restart with cross stitching. I still cannot imagine stitching on linen, but it is fun seeing your beautiful work.

    Reply
  4. Margaret Miller

    Thanks for this post. Just came back to cross stitching this year. Really enjoying it. My next challenge is to try something with 40 count. I’ll try to remember- Slow and steady!

    Reply
  5. Julia Wood

    I love your updates on your stitching. I’m just getting back into it myself. I’m working on a project on linen now and really want to finish it to frame and hang in my sewing room.

    Reply
  6. Maureen Toole

    Your stitching projects are beautiful as well as the history. I’m the only one in my family with an ounce of creativity except for great aunt Elizabeth who’d rather sew than eat.and passed away at her sewing machine stitching the dress she was buried in. My parents and siblings are not interested but my husband’s appreciated it and his mother got hooked on it after I showed her how. Both have passed but I just can’t stop stitching as I’m only 47 and though I have double vision and wear reading glasses on top of my regular glasses to magnify
    I read in a medical journal studies have proven any creative work does fire up both hemispheres of the brain and improve hand/eye coordination so keep on stitching quilting reading and blogging to your hearts content

    Reply
    1. Lace Faerie

      Oh Maureen, that’s so sad about your great aunt dieting at her sewing machine, but also kinda cool that she left this earth while doing something she loved. It kind of reminded me of something I read somewhere that in olden days, the first cloth woven after a girl married was her burial cloth, so not to be a burden on her family.

      Reply
  7. Hedy

    I honestly do not remember having problems making a sampler on linen the first time. I had been cross stitching printed linen for some time, went to counted cross stitch then made a very large linen picture I designed myself. I was about 40 year old, in college, with a husband and 4 kids. I think at that time, counting threads was the least of my worries. I do love looking at your cross stitch but I’ll never start it again. I did pick up a beautiful linen cross stitch picture that was quite old at Goodwill on Tuesday. I soaked all the yellow out and I’m getting glass for the frame today. I love the old vintage ones. It gives you great pleasure making these, so keep on stitch8ng.

    Reply
  8. Judith Fairchild

    Love watching your progress in stitching. I think I mentioned i have a niece that does cross stitching. I never could figure out how she did it. She would start in the exact center and follow the chart. I’m so glad you explained how you do it. Happy stitching tonight.

    Reply
  9. Donna Graham

    Your cross stitch pieces are beautifully done. The tree in question-when I enlarged the picture on my phone, the in-between stitches looked like a “plus” instead of an “x” to me. Good luck!

    Reply
  10. Sue

    It looks like what you have stitched in the light green on the tree is what is supposed to be the white on the photo- is it possible that you mixed up the symbols?

    Reply
  11. Cindy F

    Great suggestions for beginners. I completed A Changed World yesterday and I didn’t take closer note on that center tree and I wish I had. I may go and pick out the darker green. When I look at it now and compare it to the strip that is right under the tree I think there is an error in the pattern. I think the color in the tree should be DMC 3348 not 934. That same light green is used on the trees at the each edge and it would complement it. To be honest I have had a number of issues with this pattern as there have been multiple mistakes and when you go to the designer’s page she has no errata section.

    Reply
  12. Martha W

    Jo, I’ve been stitching since the early 80’s. I think that your tree looks good. If you filled it in that line would not look nice because the center tree would be heavy. I hope this makes sense. I love following your cross-stitch blog. It pushs me to take time to stitch a little each day.

    Reply
  13. Diane

    Stitchers I have a few suggestions. First please cover your magnifiers, not only to protect them from damage. But more importantly if they are placed near sunlight they have started fires. Yikes!! From Mary Corbet of Needle ‘n Threads. I use Counting/Marking pins. You can make your own or purchase them. Also use Guideline/marking line, very easy to remove. It is an orange plastic like line. Maybe not fine enough for high count linen. Sorry I don’t know how to add links. I found all on google.

    Reply
  14. JustGail

    When I need to mark grid lines, I use sewing thread. While not totally snag proof, it’s far less likely to catch your needle than using floss. Those odd little scraps from bobbins or changing colors on your sewing machine are fine. I’d also suggest not starting out on dark linen, especially one that has threads that vary in thickness. I’m working a project on black and it is slooooow going! Sometimes I can’t really see where I’m aiming the needle, so have to feel the linen thread lumps by lightly and slowly moving the needle across the fabric. And as others pointed out, lighting and magnification that works *for you* makes a world of difference – no matter what you are stitching on.

    Reply
    1. Diane

      Just Gail. For dark ground fabric I place something white on the work surface (my lap or table top). Keeping the fabric taunt in the hoop will open up the holes a little bit more. I have also used sewing thread, but found the needles for finer fabric are more sharp than the larger size needles. I keep sewing through the thread, making it difficult to remove them. I did look at finer gauge fishing line online. I may try it, but what I saw was clear.

      Reply
  15. Mary

    Jo, seems like I read on your blog once that a particular brand of linen made for easier stitching. I can’t seem to find the info, could you help me out? I really enjoy your cross stitch updates, as well as everything else you write about on your blog!
    Thanks, Mary, your friend in E. Oregon

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      I like linen with smaller holes and isn’t see through. I LOVE Vintage Country Mocha. Picture This Plus linen and Lakeside are ones I’ve tried and liked as well. Those two are harder to find. I haven’t tried lots of linen. I’m sure there are others out there that are good. Weeks and Wichelt are two I don’t care for.

      Reply

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