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Cross Stitch – The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Have you ever considered that this craft could have a good side, bad side or even ugly side?

The Good…

With cross stitch, the various sides of this craft can range from the amazing creativity we all get to share in with the range of patterns available to us to stitch. Through to the accessories that help us with our craft and the amazing and wonderful people we get to meet and share our passion with and learn from.

Needle Minders

Thankfully I’ve never accidentally sat on a needle pointing the wrong way or stepped on one for that matter. However, I have misplaced many needles throughout my time and wishing I had a way to find them. Knowing that magnets would help me, but not knowing how exactly they would help! It has only been within the last 6 months or so that I’ve come across needle minders – also known as needle nannies. So for my birthday in 2018, I asked for a Big Eyed Cat needle minder by Stitchnmad on Etsy and I absolutely love it! I’m also thinking that I need more needle minders to go with the various WIP’s I have!

What I also didn’t realise about needle minders is how easy it may be to make them! That said, I love the variety and options currently available and knowing that if I fall on hard times, that I could make them myself.

Parking verses cross country

Meanwhile, I’ve recently come across a variety of YouTube clips on cross-stitch involving the technique called ‘parking’. I’m still playing around with this technique and currently I’m finding that it will be more useful for solid projects rather than ones I’m currently working on that have many spaces.

Stitch n’ Bitch sessions

That said, I’ve loved my stitch and bitch sessions with one of my best mates who has since moved interstate. Prior to her move, we would catch up once a week and alternate as to who’s place we would catch up at (we lived within a 15 to 30-minute drive away from each other – a short distance considering we lived in the country!). This time would enable us to catch up on what’s been happening in each other’s lives and share tips, tricks and other stitch related topics with each other. This would range from the way we would start or finish off stitches through to the use of light – lamps to light up the front or back of the projects we’re working on, depending on how dark the fabric was. We would also grumble about our threads knotting up and learning how to count or getting our eyes checked because we had miscounted the number of stitches we needed to do or confusing the thread colour and associated symbol.

Update – As of the end of 2018, my bestie and her husband moved back to Canberra and we’re going to be starting up our stitch n’ bitch sessions again! What’s even more awesome is that she’s living a short 10 to 15 minutes-drive away and we don’t need to worry about country roads!!

The Bad…

The bad side we experience can be associated with the mistakes we make and whether or not we can laugh about them and learn from them. Such mistakes can range from having dirty fingers whilst stitching, resulting in our projects getting dirty. Through to knotty threads, running out of fabric resulting in not being able to finish a project.

Starting in the centre of the fabric (when possible) and all of my crosses going in the same direction

When I got back into cross-stitch after a long hiatus, I had completely forgotten about the importance of starting in the centre of fabric and pattern and making sure that all of my crosses are going in the same direction. I don’t remember any details of when I first got into cross-stitch or what the finished piece looked like, but I do have my first completed piece from when I seriously got back into cross-stitch and it may as well have been my first!

Teddy Bear with Train – not exactly centre and dirty fabric

Meanwhile, from a distance, the dark brown bear seems fine. He’s well centred on the fabric. The half stitches are all pointing in the one direction and the backstitch provides definition to key areas of the piece. A closer look at the piece shows a more troubled picture with many novice mistakes. My crosses are uneven and stitched haphazardly. If memory serves me well, I’d stitched the lines alternating in direction because I thought it was easier and saving time. E.g. line one going right to left and line two going left to right. Then there’s the problem with the backstitch. Because I was in a rush to get the piece completed (I was super keen to start the next one), I didn’t take as much time and care to do a good job. One thing that the dark bear doesn’t tell you is that when I finished him, there was a significant amount of fabric below him.

Bear with Boat – From a distance it looks okay…
Close up of Bear with Boat – not all of the crosses are going in the same direction

Dirty fabric

What you may also notice with the bear below is how dirty the fabric is. Another huge mistake! What I’ve learnt over time and what many of you may know is that it’s a sin for a stitcher to stitch with dirty hands and to leave their fabric dirty when it’s finished. Why? Aesthetically, it looks grubby, messy, unprofessional. Technically, the grub, grime and muck can attract bugs, mites and other nasty critters that can feed off it and eventually ruin the picture. Additionally, there’s the risk of the piece growing mould or remaining stained for the rest of its life because I’ve not washed it soon enough and ensured it’s dried and stored properly.

Bear with Train – dirty fabric above his head.

Having enough fabric

Maths, numbers and I have never really gotten along. In the world of cross-stitch, this means that I have trouble calculating how much fabric I need for a project – especially if I’m choosing to stitch a project on a different count of fabric to what the artist recommends. For example, the image of the white horse as shown below, is the best example of when I have gotten the measurements really wrong.

Midnight Glow pattern designed by Dyan Allaire, published by Kustom Krafts
The above pattern is how Midnight Glow should look when finished!

Which means that I’m going to need to be really creative with the way that I finish off this picture. I had initially thought that I would frame it. But I’m starting to think that I could incorporate it into a scrapbook page.

Knots, pulling my stitches too tight and lumpy stitching

I’m yet to meet a stitcher who loves it when their threads get knotted up while they’re stitching. For me, it’s inevitable for my thread to knot at least once during my time stitching a project. Depending on the size of the knot, I’ll try to pull it through the fabric and continue stitching or pull the thread either side of the knot to ‘undo’ the knot. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out for me and my stitches end up being pulled too tight or the knot remains and it ends up on the front side of the picture. An example of this is the Kustom Kraft Tiger picture I started stitching ages ago shown below:

Left ear of tiger – some lumpy stitching

The Ugly…

Unfortunately ugly things happen in cross stitch and being part of the cross stitch community makes life easier to deal with when the ugly things happen like the following things…

Breaking a daylight light bulb that’s no longer being made

Many years ago for a birthday present, I received an Over The Top (OTT) daylight lamp that had a magnifier attached to it, like the one below:

OTT Floor Lamp with Magnifier – image from
https://www.sewmucheasier.com/ott-lite-easy-view-floor-lamp

Since the OTT was first purchased, the manufacturers have changed the way the light bulb fits within the socket. So any new bulbs I go to purchase, wont fit the existing socket and I’m left with the conundrum of what to do with a perfectly good stand with a magnifier and possibly purchasing another lamp.

Losing half a pattern that is now out of print

One of the joys of cross stitching is having the option to switch between a variety of projects. One of those projects for me is the Zebra Grande by Elsa Williams. Due to the way the pattern has been produced, it’s split in half and I’ve been clever enough to lose the second half of the pattern!

Zebra Grande by Elsa Williams – what the finished product should look like.
Half finished Zebra

I have made attempts to try and stitch the second half of the Zebras using the colour photo of the finished product, but it’s not the same. A portion of the Zebras are cut off by the matting and framing, so I’m making some guesses which could wildly through out the finished piece.

Lasting thoughts

What have been your experiences with the good, bad and ugly of cross stitch? How have you handled them?

Author:

I am an avid cross stitcher. I was first introduced to cross stitch when I was primary school age. Paused for while during my teens and then took it up again in my early/mid 20's and I haven't looked back. To mitigate the amount of time I'm sitting down stitching, I'm a regular member of the gym and I'm a runner. To keep me motivated, I participate in short to medium length fun runs. Which at times feel torturous, but I feel really good at the end of them! With these activities in mind, this blog is about the combination of my experiences with running and cross stitch and encouraging people to think differently about cross stitch - it's not just Grandma's who do this anymore!