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!
I’ve designed some free cross stitch charts that are available on the Hot Cross Stitching website.
For one of the chart called “I Count My Lucky Stars”, I thought I was being smart by removing the blank pages, to make it easier to stitch. How wrong was I! I started to stitch this pattern with the use of the Pattern Keeper app and the app did well to try and read the setup of the pattern. I hadn’t fully appreciated until then, the importance of all of the pages being there!
In an ideal world, the pages should appear roughly four pages across by four pages down or something similar to the image below:
The dashes or lines we see on the screen show where the page separations are, for one of the patterns I have uploaded to the app. My mistake for “I count my lucky stars” was removing the blank pages, resulting in the pages appearing in one long line, as shown below:
The positive in this is it’s easy to fix! I’ve still got the original pattern with all of the pages – blanks included! – and I’ve been able to replace the pattern that’s available on the Hot Cross Stitching website. Later today or perhaps sometime tomorrow, I’ll go back to stitching the pattern and make some personalisations, to get it to fit on the fabric I’ve started to use:
I’ll definitely be doing some ‘frogging’ (aka picking out some stitches) on the letter ‘a’ and most likely the letter ‘d’ too because I’m not happy with the way the font has been charted. I definitely don’t have enough fabric to stich the charted border. But that’s okay because I’m keen to get the words stitched at least, then I can put it in a nice frame and hang it somewhere in my home where everyone can enjoy it!
The letters are being stitched in Cottage Garden Threads ‘Sherbert’ and I’m using DMC’s 14 count printed Aida. I’m not sure what the exact colours are, but they’re pretty. If or when I stitch this chart again, with enough fabric to stitch the border, I’ll be using DMC’s 828 and 3760 (806). I have 5 skeins of each colour that I need to use! The DMC thread 806 is appearing in brackets because 806 has been discontinued and 3760 is its replacement.
For a bit over a year now, I’ve been regularly-ish (roughly every 2 to 3 weeks) creating content for my flosstube channel – The XStitching Runner. Similar to this blog, my channel predominantly is about cross stitch with some life stuff thrown in. Some weeks I’m full of enthusiasm and excitement. Other weeks not so much. But that’s life right!
As the title of this post suggests, this is all about the things I’ve learnt about Flosstube as a content creator. I’ve also published a video on my channel about these things as well. Check out the link at the end of this post for more!
1. It’s all about the numbers
To some extent, anything that goes up on YouTube is a popularity contest – regardless of what anyone else says. Over time, the more comments, shares and views you get, the more subscribers you get and the higher up the pecking order you go. Your content is recommended more to others who may not of heard about your content and there’s a chance they may be interested in it and become another statistic. All of this is part of the algorithms (I’m told) of how YouTube works.
The other extent – in my view – is personality and what your intentions are for your channel. There are millions of wonderful creators out there and every single one of them brings a unique twist to the table because of who they are. It’s their personality we are engaging with, their life experiences and their ability to convey a message to camera. This – at the end of the day – is what the numbers are measuring, to enable your channel to grow and potentially make money out of it, if that’s something you’re interested in.
2. Personality and confidence
I have gained more confidence in presenting to camera since I started my channel and it’s had a positive impact on my professional life. Professionally, I spend 99% of my time in front of the computer and 10% of that time is spent presenting training via Microsoft Teams. I have become more comfortable in front of the camera and speaking up in meetings. I haven’t however, increased my conciseness. My flosstube episodes average 40 minutes – usually 60 minutes. I waffle a lot and I have a lot but not a lot to say about cross stitch. I have this feeling of needing to bring something different to the table nearly every time I sit down to film. I don’t want to get stuck in the ‘cookie cutter’ mode of the flosstube recipe of each week showing how much progress I’ve made on a project. What finishes I’ve done and any new starts made.
My episodes are raw with limited editing. Which is probably why they go for so long! My episodes are an insight to who I am and what I have to say and share with anyone what I’ve been up to with my life and a bit of cross stitch.
3. Knowing my ‘why’.
The down side of trying to bring something different to the table nearly every time I sit down to film is that I have lost sight of what my channel is about. It’s still very much about cross stitch, but I’ve lost the focus of trying to promote my own patterns and my own business – Hot Cross Stitching. I’ve for a little while, forgotten about having fun and improving my ability to be concise and focus on the stitching.
Additionally, over the last month or two – perhaps longer – I’ve started to do a ‘welcome to Country’. It’s an Australian thing that is done at the start of many sporting events and meetings that happen in the public service. It’s possible that it happens in other situations as well that I’m not aware of. The welcome to Country is an acknowledgement of the Indigenous Australians who are the traditional owners of the land we call Australia and the region/area that an event or meeting is taking place. The welcome acknowledges their leaders and elders from the past, present and emerging. The importance of doing this is to aid in the reconciliation between the Indigenous Australians and everyone who has come after them and taken over the land.
Since I’ve been doing this acknowledgement, I feel like it’s unfortunately hurt my channel. I really hope it hasn’t been the case and that there are other factors that are contributing to the downturn in numbers I’m seeing for my channel. I also feel that it would be quite shallow of me to stop doing this, all because I’ve become so focused on the numbers instead of what my channel is really about. Cross stitch and trying to build my side-hustle!
4. Technology and lighting
I have a love/hate relationship with technology and related devices and my boyfriend has been fantastic with trying to help me out with it where he can. Over the last 12 months or so, I’ve had issues mostly with the sound and it not being loud enough. Depending on what camera and microphone combination I’m using, sometimes the sound will start to lag after a few minutes and I’m yet to figure out why. I want to know why, because the little camera I’m thinking of with this problem is really cool! It has a ring light as part of the camera. It’s compact and my eyes feel a little funny after looking at it for so long.
The funny thing is that at times I feel like it’s a huge production with all of this equipment and product around me to help make the magic happen – a little like the image below!
Then there are times when I remember to try and keep it simple – to the point where I’ve contemplated filming from my phone. My biggest problem with this is storage and the joys of connecting my phone to my laptop to reduce the problem.
At the end of the day, I need to go with what works and pick my timing to do the filming!
5. Craft-avism and stitching challenges
It’s activism via the mode of crafting. As a viewer, I’ve seen this to be quite a fickle thing in the Flosstube world. Over the last 12 months or so, Flosstubers have:
Rallied against the owners of the platform Etsy because of the fees that sellers have to pay to use the platform. Resulting in minimal profit margins. The irony is that the people who talk about rallying against Etsy, tend to shop there exclusively if they’re shopping online!
Raised awareness of the importance of bees in the ecological system by designing and stitching many bee related projects.
Supported the LGBTQI+ community by stitching things designed by people in the community and talking about the challenges people in this community deal with and face daily.
Supported Australia’s black summer of 2019/20 by donating money, designing charts that have proceeds that go to specific Australian charities and stitching Aussie patterns, to name a few.
Participated in a huge variety of stitching challenges to keep motivated and see progress in the variety of projects we have.
I’ve even become a joiner in some of these challenges and been a supporter of some of these events. I’ve set my own challenge based upon the Australian Football League (AFL) for this year and some of my projects have gotten a lot more attention than I expected! I’m also participating in the 22 in 22 – 22,000 stitches on a specific project in the year 2022.
I still have a long way to go with this flosstube thing! At the end of the day I just need to be me and remember that I will never be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay! I will find my feet and have fun while I’m doing it. Because my main goals with this blog and the flosstube channel is to build a brand that is leading to bringing people together from all walks of life, who have cross stitch in common. Who find peace and enjoyment by siting down and stitching and connecting with others who enjoy cross stitching as well, and can learn organically from each other.
The biggest dream is to have two places where people can come to connect and stitch – in the country and at the beach. The places will be able to host stitching retreats that can be for a week or a weekend. People can come and go as they need and participate as much or as little as they want.
I hope you’ve found some entertainment in all of this and learnt something along the way! In the section below, there are some links to my channel and related topics that you may find interesting.
Until next time,
References / Further reading:
Aboriginal Australia map – Shows the different countries that make up Australia. This particular blog is written in Canberra – Ngunnawal (pronounced Nunawal or Nunawol) Country.
The creative writing bug left me for a while and I felt that I didn’t have much to write about regarding cross stitch and what I’ve been doing – especially things that would make any of the posts interesting!
Thankfully it doesn’t mean I’ve been idle, because I cleaned out some of my cupboards and found some quilting fabric I’d forgotten about and tried my hand at making some project bags:
So far I’ve created three bags and thankfully each time I’ve improved and learnt my lessons from the previous bag – to then create new lessons for future bags! The above images show both sides of the bags and the inside of them where I’ve tried to line them with some fabric as a point of interest.
The additional aim of these bags is to help me keep my physical cross stitch patterns organised. The horse, teddy bears and dog project bags hold cross stitch patterns on those things – horses, teddy bears and dogs.
My eventual aim is to attach cards to the zippers that will say what the project is inside, as the need arises.
Lesson 1 – Padding’s a nice idea but the type of padding used is more important, if it’s going to be used
The positive is that I successfully attached my first zip to some fabric using a special foot that came with my sewing machine!
The negative is that I’m not going to use left-over batting I used for my cross stitch quilt! As much as I tried to keep things as lined up and straight as possible, the padding gave the bag a mind of its own when it came time to stitching – even when I was using pins! If I due use padding again, I’ll definitely use something thinner and use special quilting clips like the ones below (that I could purchase from a craft store):
Lesson 2 – Securing the ends of the zipper will help with opening and closing
The images below are from the first bag I created and it opens and closes smoothly. The ends however aren’t neat and they need to be. That’s partially due to the type of zipper I used for this bag and the other part is due to me ‘winging’ it and not following a specific pattern. My initial logic was – it’s just a bag, it should be simple enough!
Lesson 3 – Following a pattern and paying attention to that pattern is important
To toot my own horn, I’m good at writing procedures and instructions. I have trouble following instructions and procedures though. It does depend upon what I’m doing and the complexity of what I need to do. If I have to do something practical like making a project bag, then I find it easier to follow a series of images than written instructions.
For the second bag, I tried to follow a tutorial that Elizabeth Ann Can Stitch posted about a year ago. It worked reasonably well to begin with. There was a bit of re-watching certain parts to be sure I was on the right track. The hardest part I found was attaching the front to the back. That was partially due to me getting to the point where I thought that I was okay and on the right track and didn’t need to keep re-watching!
Because of this thought pattern, I had to get creative at times and add more fabric to the bag to make it all line up!
This is where and why I can never be a builder or work in construction where supplies are very expensive. As much as I measure twice and cut once, I can measure 10 times and cut once and still get it wrong!
The positive to come out of this bag is my improved zipper attachment to the bag – much to the detriment of a needle on my sewing machine that was sacrificed as part of the sewing process. I had learnt from my first bag to really keep my seams straight and make sure everything lined up. For the majority of the bag I was able to do this and that’s when the needle broke when I was sewing a part of the zipper. However, there was still one part of the bag where I hadn’t quite gotten the whole seam of the fabric, as shown below:
Lesson 4 – Converting inches to centemetrs to ensure precision of the pattern
One of the things I struggled with creating the second bag was all of the measurements were in inches. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem because I have a tape that uses both types of measurements. The challenge came when I wanted to use a specific panel of fabric that wasn’t to the inch or half inch and my ability to determine if it’s a quarter of an inch, an eighth of an inch etc. That’s when I started using a mixture of inches and centemetres and noting down the measurements where I adjusted them. That’s when the additional fabric had to be added to the bag!
Lesson 5 – Leaving it to memory then winging it
For the most part, I’m really happy with how my third bag turned out since I had made some adjustments to the dimensions and I was going by memory for how to assemble it. I’m happy with how neat the seams are and I don’t have any frayed edges where I’ve not been able to capture all of the edges!
You may notice that the centre image below shows a yellow vertical strip of fabric just above the Golden Retreaver’s head. That’s where I needed to get creative and try and use some of the fabric I’d already cut up.
Learning my lesson from breaking a sewing machine needle from the second bag, I wanted to be safe than sorry but also have a really nice and neat bag for my third one. I achieved that by not breaking another needle and allowed some extra fabric either side of the zipper to try and make it neat.
I’m not completely happy with this end, but it may be something for the fourth bag that I can improve on. I could add some extra fabric that covers this end, but something I can easily attach without breaking another needle!
Lesson 6 – Do I dare use clear vinal?
I haven’t purchased any yet but I’m considering it. I’ve seen on Flosstube that some people have project bags that have a clear panel of vinal at the front to help them see what project/s they have in the bag. I’ve even seen one creative endeavor where a Christmas stocking shaped project bag had been made and the creator had included clear vinal but in a pocket format, to enable the user to keep their floss/threads organised. To me that will be the ideal thing to do or / and create a bag that is large enough to fit my fishing tackle boxes that I use to store and organise the thread for my large, full coverage pieces. The box below is an example of how I use the tackle box and I’m using it for three different projects!
I hope you’ve found this read useful, if not entertaining! My aim is to write more posts for this year and interact with you all more!
In the meantime, you can catch up with me regarding my cross stitch progress and new patterns etc. on my Flosstube channel, The X Stitching Runner.
As restrictions ease in some areas of Australia – let alone the world, what does crafting look like for many of us crafters – introverts and extroverts alike?
Life over the last few years has been challenging because we are living through a part of history that is unique to this century, and the rose-tinted glasses view is that we’re all doing the best we can under the existing circumstances. Opening our lives up to a new normal and living with a new virus may be greeted with open arms by some, because living in confined spaces when they don’t “have to” (depending on many other factors I won’t go into) is too much. Too hard. A different type of torture that they would rather not experience again if they can.
On the other hand, if your lifestyle and circumstances have allowed it, living in lockdown and working from home has been wonderful. Because it’s enabled you to get so many other things done around the home, that pre-virus may not have allowed and potentially given you the opportunity to re-charge the proverbial batteries.
Fearing freedom or embracing a new way of living?
There is a Spanish proverb loosely translated to English that says “to live a life in fear is to live a life half-lived”. This proverb was used in Baz Luhrmann’s movie Strictly Ballroom when Fran was expressing her frustration to Scott, because of his fear to try something new and step out of the mould of what’s expected or preferred for the finals.
In the context of this post, the Spanish proverb can apply in a range of ways. Technology for example, has enabled many of us over the last couple of years, to work from home or communicate socially with others through crafting retreats or sharing of skills and knowledge. Because of this, some people may be accustomed to being at home and the comforts that may bring, and your region or country opening up may then require you to communicate or be around other people in-person. This can be stressful and scary because of the comfort zone that has been built at home. Additionally, the distance that a computer screen provides can remove the immediate reactions and triggers (positive or negative) that would otherwise be there when we’re dealing with people and situations in-person.
The flip side to the technology is from a seller’s perspective. Technology has made our lives 10 times more convenient than before through online shopping and home deliveries. Admittedly this is nothing new and lockdowns have forced many of us to do a lot more of it. Being able to purchase craft supplies has made life easier because our favourite stores may not have been able to sell online before now. This may be a good thing and a bad thing depending upon your chosen craft. The quality of the pictures we see on the internet have had a significant impact on our ability to determine if the products we need and want will be true to life. An example of this is the dye lots for custom made embroidery threads, paints, papers and fabrics and the fear of losing customers when people have the option of physically going to shops to purchase the things they need. Some customers may find that going to stores and being able to see the products they need in a different light and being able to touch the products before purchasing may have a negative impact on digital sales.
The above images are from Pexels.com and show the various ways in which many of us have grown accustomed to embracing during lockdown to pass time and express ourselves creatively.
Fearing the known or unknown
Before our lives changed, many of us were able to enjoy the freedoms of attending crafting retreats locally, inter-state or overseas. We benefited from seeing projects, tools and equipment in person to help us to decide if we want to use it or create it that isn’t the same as seeing it on screen. We were able to learn new skills and tricks that can be challenging to learn via a screen, because we can have someone sitting next to us and help us adjust what we’re doing to achieve the desired result. If it were done via a screen, our eyes can become fatigued from looking at a screen. We may struggle with Internet connections and other interruptions we may not have control over.
We were also able to create and establish new friendships with people we may not otherwise be able to meet, because they may not have access to technology or want to use technology to connect with others.
No one really knows if things will get worse or better as the world opens up. There may be a fear around the possibility of complacency around hygiene and growing accustomed to freedom then having that freedom taken away again. There are some unofficial predictions and beliefs that highlight the possibility of more waves of the virus coming through. Unfortunately, it’s not known how the powers that be will react, should such events happen.
Knowing what we have experienced already can be good because we can prepare ourselves for further lockdowns and reverting back to the use of and reliance upon technology to communicate with the world again can be equally damaging. The fear of what we’ve already experienced through loved ones or ourselves catching the virus and not recovering from it at all or continuing to suffer side-effects. Which co-insides with further lockdowns, loss of jobs, slumps in the economy and struggles to survive because of these events.
It’s also important to note that the lockdowns people have experienced, may have enhanced some underlying anxieties and stresses that existed well before the pandemic. It’s also possible that people living on their own or with others may not have been aware of or recognised some of these underlying issues and the world opening up again may be triggering these issues.
This is where the world of crafting can continue to be embraced to at least partially assist with the stress and anxiety of what may come with freedom.
Embracing a new way of living
For many who have the ability to, the lockdown(s) have enabled them to consider a new way of living and how they want their lives. For some, this means continuing to work from home – either in their current roles or embrace a career change and start something new like their own business or going back to school. For others, it can be a physical move away from the cities because they have found that the hustle and bustle of the city life or suburban life no longer fits.
From a crafting perspective, lockdown enabled some of us to start investigating what creative things we were curious about before lockdown, but may not have had the time or confidence to do something about it. Resulting in the embracing a new way of living can mean finding a new tribe or mob of people who love the same types of crafts as yourself. Which may often lead you to wanting to spend an increasing amount of time around those like-minded people and the locations that enable to go down the creative-crafting path!
In other cases, lockdown enabled us to completely embrace the crafty and creative life and get things done in the background, so that when we came out of lockdown, we can put those plans into action. You could be that person that brings others together to enable them to embrace their creative side and meet others who share similar passions and interests!
From an introvert perspective, lockdowns may have enabled you to find your voice through a craft you love. Because of your passion and love for your craft, you’re able to articulate things that may have previously been a struggle for different reasons. Painting can be a really good example of this, because it’s a creative outlet that has enabled people to capture their favourite scenes, things and people or image they see in their mind’s eye, such as fantasy worlds. Additionally, it’s been acknowledged as a useful form of therapy to help people process and deal with a wide range of things they need to work through (e.g. PTSD and other traumas).
By having a painting, drawing or other creative thing you have done, you may find a new confidence to talk about it and additional things you want to create via this new creative channel!
From an extrovert perspective, the lockdowns may have enabled you to listen more and hold space for the introverts who have found their new voice, and want to talk about their creative outlets. You may have embraced social media and started your own channel or group to connect with others.
Personal note: I want to acknowledge that we are living in uncertain times and my aim is not to be dismissive of the different circumstances that people are experiencing, by saying that there’s nothing to worry about. Or focus too much on the negative aspects of the world we live in because of things I’ve seen and heard through different mediums (e.g. the news, people I talk to, conversations I’ve overheard and social media). I actively swing between being excited about returning to the old normal and the positive possibilities of the new normal. Then feeling cautious and unsure about new strains that may or will happen, as we start moving around again through domestic and international travel.
Overall, I’m cautiously hopeful that things will be okay and we will be able to live with outbreaks as they happen; not through lockdowns, but through other means that enable people to continue to work and engage with others without isolation.
What do you think crafting after lockdown will look like?
It’s amazing what you can find when you’re like me and avoid cleaning out cupboards and doing a really good spring clean!
I’ve been taking stock of what I have hiding in my cupboards – especially in my craft room – with the intention of determining the following things:
Do I need it?
Do I still use it?
Does it bring me joy?
Can I use it for something else?
Can I recycle it? i.e. put it into the recycle bin or take it somewhere that can recycle it
Can I donate it?
Can I sell it and am I confident enough to sell it online via somewhere like Facebook Marketplace?
Do I know anyone who I could give it to?
A lot of this is stemming from spending two weekends (nearly) re-arranging my craft room to fit in second-hand furniture to improve the space for my day job. Whilst slowly (like, snail’s pace slowly!) working towards some long-term goals I want to work towards.
The amazing things found as part of clean-ups!
For years I’ve had stashed away in a grey bag, a cross stitch project that I started and may never finish. I’m hanging onto it as a “just in case” project, depending on whether or not my niece really gets into princesses. I may end up de-stashing it before I find out the answer to this one! But that’s beside the point…it’s the other things I found in the bag that has really surprised me:
“May Your Dreams Come True” was a project I’d stitched for my Nan, but I don’t remember why I never fully finished it or gave it to her. I stitched this project on 18 count Aida and used all of the called for DMC colours and beads. It was intense and I was glad when I’d finished it! I may make a project bag or something out of it. Who knows!
I got the pattern for it out of a cross stitch fairy book I’d bought at a craft show (I think) when I was getting back into cross stitch. Which means that this project was completed in the early to late 2000’s. Because it was well before my boyfriend and I became a couple and well before I moved into my current home.
It’s like hitting the jackpot!
I also found a stash-load of fabric! I am in amazement about this one!
I’m not sure what count fabric this is. I’m guessing it’s 25 to 28 count and roughly 1 metre’s worth! It was definitely back in the early days when I was learning how to kit up my own projects and as I’m writing this, I’ve figured out which project this was intended for. Heaven and Earth Designs “Sampler”, artwork by Selina Fenech:
I was going to stitch this up for my sister. I may still stitch this. Especially a couple of the middle panels as bookmarks. Then with the alphabet, I have a myriad of options!
…and finding a long, lost WIP.
I fully thought that I’d thrown this project out. I remember stitching this project when my boyfriend and I had started going out and I slowly fell out of love with it. I was trying to stitch it in secret. Which at this stage, was when I was still travelling out to my friend’s place when she lived with her parents. So this project is going back about 9 to 10 years!
It’s a Bothy Threads counted cross stitch kit called “A Dictionary of Dogs” and the pictures are adapted from paintings by Helen Smith. I’m using everything that is in this kit and I may pick it up again in the near future and include it in my rotation. Especially since my boyfriend said that he liked the project and wasn’t too surprised that I’d found these things hidden away.
I’m still blown away that I found these things after all this time!
What things have you found in your stash that you hadn’t expected to find?
With the current climate, international travel and in some circumstances, domestic travel is difficult and wont return to normal for a long time. Which is why a digital stitching retreat is an awesome way of connecting with people from across the country and internationally.
Meeting new people from the comfort of your own home
Pending your personality type, meeting new people can be exciting and fun, nerve-wrecking, curious and cautious or somewhere in-between. Thankfully with the help of technology (and some tech-savvy friends for support if needed), you can join chat groups via social media applications such as Zoom. Where you can choose to have your camera off and microphone on, both feature on or off or any other combination that works for you.
The aim is for you to be able to interact with the other people in a group, whilst stitching on a project and talk (or not, that’s totally up to you!) about whatever you want.
Personal note: I’m an introvert through and through with socially awkward tendencies – especially when I’m in a room with other people I don’t know at all or very well. Being at home and participating in these retreats was really good because I could talk as much or as little as I wanted and silences are okay. Because everyone is busy stitching on their pieces and no one is worried about superficial things and you can keep your hands busy with cross stitch!
Timing is up to you
Participating in international digital retreats can mean that your time zone may be out of balance with the timing for the event. This is where you can make it your own and participate in events and stitching sessions that work for you.
Personal note: Recently I participated in a digital stitching retreat hosted by The Black Needle Society – check out the links at the end of this post for more information – and the timing of the events were based upon Central Time in America. I’m in the Australian Eastern Time zone and that meant I would need to be up at about middnight or 1am through to about midday to 1pm or a little later to immerse myself in the retreat experience.
For my lifestyle, this was not practical, so I made it work for me by participating in the events that I could and it was an amazing experience!
The events and stitching challenges
This is what makes the stitching retreats unique and different. Some stitching retreats are based upon themes such as a television series or a movie franchise. Others may be based upon Halloween, Christmas or specific designer. Each of these retreats will have challenges based upon these themes and the organisers may have prizes connected to those challenges.
For example, one retreat may have a schedule of challenges for specific days and times throughout the retreat, that participants can take part in. The challenges will be specific to the theme of the retreat and there may be a prompt for you to work on a specific project in your collection. This can be a new start or an existing work in progress. Some challenges may have a time limit for you to complete the challenge and the set parameters may put you into the running to win a prize.
Personal note: Recently I participated in The Black Needle Society’s Retreat in a Box called “Autumn in Stars Hollow” that’s based upon the television show “Gilmore Girls”. There was a schedule for when the challenges were going to take place and each challenge was based upon a specific episode from the series. Additionally, each episode took place during the season of Autumn and Gilmore Girls is set in a fictional township of Stars Hollow.
For each challenge, we had an hour to put in as many stiches as we could on a project that related to the theme for a specific episode. For example, the first episode of the Gilmore Girls (aka the trailer) had the theme of laundry day. Therefore, the prompt for our cross stitch project, had to have clothes in it. We were required to take a photo of our piece before the challenge started with the name of the name of the project we were working on and a password we were provided 10 minutes before the challenge started.
At the end of the hour, we counted up the number of stitches we had done during that hour. We had to note down what that number was on the same piece of paper that had the password and name of the project and post the pictures to the social media platforms nominated by the organisers. We earnt points or a number of entries for a lucky dip that was drawn by the organisers of the retreat, and the lucky dip was drawn in the town hall meetings that started 15 minutes after each challenge ended.
I really enjoyed my first international digital stitching retreat that was hosted by The Black Needle Society. I’m a huge fan of the television series Gilmore Girls and I had heard about this retreat in a box through a flosstube channel called The Steel City Stitchers who are representatives of The Black Needle Society boxes.
In a future post I’ll share with you the pictures of the items in the stitching retreat box. If you can’t wait for that post, check out my flosstube episode #9 on Youtube, where I’m also known as The X Stitching Runner!
Each stitching retreat is different and unique and it’s important that you find one that fits your needs and interests. Below are some links and resources to help get you started and hopefully you’ll find one that works for you!
Linen & Threads – this is an Australian based stitching retreat. The link will take you to the page for an even that has already happened. But it will give you an idea of what’s involved with a physical stitching retreat.
It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve posted something to this blog – 20th June was the last time! Sooo much has happened since then!
My boyfriend and I were due to go on a holiday up to Queensland at the start of July and the pandemic had other plans for us. The short story is that we decided to cancel our holiday and we’ll reschedule for a later time either this year or next year. I was going to participate in the 5km event of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon weekend and the event got cancelled because of some outbreaks and lockdowns that were happening in Sydney and the Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast areas. Before we were due to fly out of Canberra, the lockdowns for Brisbane and Gold Coast were going to be for three days and there was no guarantee that it would be for just three days. Brisbane’s lock down was extended for an extra few days and the Gold Coast was lifted on Friday 2nd July at 6pm.
We were relieved that we had decided not to go to Queensland for our holiday, as it lifted a lot of stress we were feeling about the unknown. We had decided to cancel the holiday before we knew about the running event being cancelled – though it looked like a sure thing before anything was formally announced. I’ve still taken my scheduled leave as I had been in the headspace for having a holiday for a set period of time and I knew that I wouldn’t be in the right headspace for work if I had made other changes.
It was also meant to be that we didn’t go on our holiday or for me to participate in any running events, because on Saturday 3rd July, I sprained my left ankle and I couldn’t properly walk on it for about 3 days. It’s still a bit swollen and bruised, but I can do most things on it now with minimal issues!
Because of all of this, I have been stitching and designing patterns for Hot Cross Stitching like there was no tomorrow!
New Patterns and finishes
Flosstube Made Me Do It
I have had the phrase ‘Flosstube made me do it’ in my head for a long time it’s taken me a while to find the motivation to stitch any of the designs based upon this phrase. I’m going to create a new series out of this phrase and my ‘stay-cation’ has helped me with this! The image below is my first finish for this series:
This piece is stitched on 14 count printed peach marble Aida, using DMC threads. I’ve framed it in a 16″x12″ black frame that I got from a dollar store from my local shops. I’ve removed the glass from the frame and it’s hanging up on the wall in my craft room/office (aka ‘Croffice’).
The chart for this piece is available for purchase via the Hot Cross Stitching website as a PDF download. It’s fully compatible with the android application Pattern Keeper. If you would prefer a paper pattern, you can contact me via the Hot Cross Stitching website.
I have regularly heard on a variety of flosstube channels, that someone has been enabled by someone else because of an episode they have watched. This typically means that someone has loved a pattern or fabric, floss, frame or something that another stitcher has shared on their flosstube and the viewer ‘just had to have it’. I’ve definitely been enabled by a few flosstubers and I know it will continue to happen for as long as we all share our love of cross stitch! That is the inspiration for the next pattern and finish:
This pattern will be available on the Hot Cross Stitching website in coming days and it will be available as a PDF download. It’s fully compatible with the android application Pattern Keeper. If you would prefer a paper pattern, you can contact me via the Hot Cross Stitching website.
I’ve stitched this pattern on 28 count evenweave using DMC threads. It’s framed in a 16″x12″ frame from my local dollar store. I’ve left the glass in the frame for this project. That may change over time as I may change my mind regarding the way I have it framed.
The idea for this pattern has been playing on my mind for the last 7 to 8 months. My biggest struggle point has been getting the flowers to look like the image I have in my mind’s eye. To help with this struggle, I have drawn upon inspiration from nature and existing cross stitch patterns like the Australian native flower sampler by Fiona Jude from Country Threads. Below is my first Hot Cross Stitching biscornu finish:
I’m really proud of this finished piece. It is really cute and small and I learnt a lot as I was assembling it. You may notice in one of the pictures, that one side of it looks a little off. I made the wonderful error of not leaving enough of a fabric margin when I cut the two pieces in half. The images below will show you what I mean:
This project was stitched on 28 count evenweave and the fabric frays very easily. I could have used some form of adhesive to stop the edges from fraying and reduce the risk of the brown back-stitches from starting to slide off the fabric. I’ve also learnt that this is a potential flaw in my design as well and I’ve updated the pattern to prevent this from happening to others.
This project was stitched in all DMC threads and the pattern will soon be available on the Hot Cross Stitching website as a PDF download. The pattern is compatible with the android application Pattern Keeper.
WIPGO WIP Updates
For the month of July, the Black and White Rolled-up Daisy (designed by Kristen Gawronski for Hot Cross Stitching) and 12 Days of Christmas (designed by Rhona Norrie) have been called:
I’ve added some stitches to the 12 Days of Christmas project. I’d like to add more before July is over and I’ll share my progress with you in a few weeks time. The same goes for the Black and White Rolled-up Daisy!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted something and I can’t wait until the end of June / early July to tell you all about some of the things that have happening in my world of cross stitch!
A couple of weeks ago I went to the Crafty Frog store in South Canberra and I picked up a few things I can’t wait to use on as many projects as possible. The image below shows overall, the things I purchased:
What you see in the picture
Starting from the bottom of the picture:
Easy Grab Ball Tip Needle – sizes 28 and 26. I’ve never used these types of needles before and I’ve heard a bit about them on a few Flosstube channels (I can’t remember who exactly, as it’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone talk about them). The special thing about these needles is that the ball tips are meant to make it easier for cross stitchers, embroiderers and hand-sewers find the holes in the fabric they want their thread to go through. The other special thing with these needles is that they are not pointy in any way, shape or form because of the small ball at the end of the needle. Which should mean that I don’t poke myself any where near as much as what I’m doing at the moment! I’m also hoping that I can use these needles when I fly up to Queensland in two weeks time. I’ve never stitched on a plane and there are some strict (understandably so) rules in Australia for having or using certain sharp objects in carry-on luggage.
Heart-shaped pendant – is deceiving because it’s also a thread cutter! Towards the pointy end of the pendant are small indents on the sides that can be used to cut the thread I’m using for my projects. I’ve been aware of this type of product for a a while, because I’ve seen it in some cross stitch magazines and craft stores. By memory DMC have similar products to the pendant you see in the picture. I’m also planning on wearing the pendant on a necklace and using it as part of my trip to Queensland!
Fabric – The pink fabric is 32 count linen that’s hand-dyed and has a marbled colour to it. I have a few ideas of what I’ll stitch on it. At the moment I’m thinking I could stitch the elephant biscornu on it (also picured) or a couple of other patterns I’m charting up, soon to be released!
Underneath the pink fabric is 25 easy count Lugana. The grey squares you see are gridded at 10 by 10 which will make it even easier for me to work on some full coverage projects I’m chomping at the bit to start!
The fabric the heart-shaped pendant is resting on is 28 count Lugana Brittney Gold. My eyes lit up and did an internal squeal when I saw this fabric. I have seen people on Flosstube use similar fabric and I have wondered how they have come across such fabric and I wasn’t sure if I would ever get to see such fabric in-person. The holes on this fabric are quite small for 28 count, so the ball-tip needles will come in handy when I start stitching on it! At the moment I’m not sure what I’ll stitch on it because the fabric is so pretty to me – it glitters in the light! I could stitch the lion biscornu (also pictured) or see if there’s anything else in my collection that could do the fabric justice.
Lion and elephant biscornu patterns – The first time I went to Crafty Frog and had a really good look at what they had, I had a fan girl moment when I saw that they stocked Tiny Modernist’s patterns! I have seen and heard many people talk her patterns and stitch them and I’ve really liked them. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to buy any of the patterns. The other cool thing with these patterns is I’m looking forward to stitching up some more biscornus because they are fun to stitch and I love seeing it all come together!
Threads – I bought two colours/threads from the Brindabella Threads range, one thread from Cottage Garden Threads (CGT) and one from the WonderFil range (the one on the spool). I really, really love the WonderFil thread because it feels so nice and silky!
I’ll most likely use all of the threads on a couple of charts I’ve got planned – one of which I’ve already started stitching…
New Pattern Progress
I haven’t quite decided what the official name of this project will be, but it is going to be part of the Flosstube Made Me Do It series. The project below is just a prototype and the finished project that will eventually be made publicly available may look different:
This project is stitched on 14 count light blue / baby blue Aida that I’ve had in my stash for a really long time. By memory I bought it from Spotlight or Lincraft – one of those stores. The border and frog are stitched in DMC threads and the words are stitched in the Cottage Garden Threads Oxalis Pearle 8.
The frog you see in this picture is a free download from the Rucni Prace website. I’ve modified it a little to help it fit into the space I needed it to be. The rest of the design is all me with some creative guidance from by boyfriend.
I really struggled to get the circle to meet up properly and there was a lot more frogging (un-picking) in this project than I would have liked. A lot of that was because of the way I had printed out the pattern for the circle and the symbols were way too small for my liking. The words I had changed significantly and I’m quite proud of how they have turned out – especially since there’s a larger gap than I would normally like between “the” and “circle’s” – but I think it really ads to the piece and the amount of ‘mistakes’ that are in it. I’d like to think that many cross-stitchers, embroiderers and crafty people alike will be able to relate to this project and see the humor in it!
Before I sign off for today, I just wanted to let you all know that the website Hot Cross Stitching is back up and running. On the site you will find:
full coverage cross stitch patterns for sale
classes you can sign up to, to learn how to cross stitch
It’s been a while! Since my last post, I’ve been working on a variety of projects and filmed two flosstube episodes – one of which is uploading today (29 May 2021)!
I’ve decided to start up my own flosstube channel on YouTube as a way of starting to promote my Hot Cross Stitching website and this blog to a new group of people to see how things go. My first introduction episode is very quiet, so you’ll need to have the volume up very high for it. I’m hoping I can upload a replacement episode with improved volume, so that when you go to watch it, you won’t be straining to hear what I’m saying!
Currently I’m at the coast and I don’t have all of my projects with me. Since the start of May I’ve been working on:
Ryan’s been a good boy (Christmas project)
Jaffy – a new start
Gundaroo Mini Mushroom
Blue Mountains Walking Trail
Ryan’s been a good boy
I’ve made some progress with this project and I’ve made an error along the way. I’ve some how mis-counted a part of the project, which in some ways is a good thing, because it means that I’ve not got as much to stitch. It will mean that I’ll need to fudge things when I go to do the backstitch. I don’t have any pictures for this project to share at this point in time. Hopefully later this year I’ll have it completed!
I’ve run out of the DMC colour 3808, so I’ll need to get creative with how I stitch some some parts until I pick up a new skein. I’ve also come to realise with this project, that I’m going to run out of fabric because I’m stitching it two over two on 25 count fabric. I could get creative and stitch the fish two over one or one over one or adjust how much I’m stitching so that I still have enough fabric to frame it.
This is one of my own designs. At the moment it won’t look like much and I could have it sitting in any direction and it could look like it’s almost any part of the picture!
I’ve started in the middle of the fabric and pattern because I don’t think I have enough for this project and I want to see how it will turn out on 18 count Aida. With this project, I really want to focus on Jaffy’s face and a little bit of the background.
Gundaroo Mini Mushroom
I’ve just started stitching this one again because it’s been too long since I’ve worked on it. I’ve probably not worked on it since some time last year. I’ll have to go back through my log to see when I last took a photo of it and talked about the project.
That said, this project has been called for the June WIPGO board! I’m really happy about this, because I’d really like to make some progress on it. The images below show my progress so far, where I’m currently up to and what it should look like when it’s complete:
Blue Mountains Walking Trail
This is my own design and I’m stitching it on 25 easy count fabric. The pink squares are 20 stitches by 20 stitches, so I need to be careful and not have a lapse in memory, thinking that they’re 10 by 10 and misread the pattern!
I started stitching this two over one out of curiosity and I quickly learnt that one over one was plenty of coverage! It was also getting too thick and making life difficult to stitch. I have fallen in love with this fabric though. It really is easy to stitch on because the holes are easy to access with my needle and thread.
For WIPGO, the two numbers called are connected to my projects the Gundaroo Mini Mushroom and the Three Dogs (aka the Three Labs as I’ve nicknamed them). I’m hoping to make some progress on both projects that will be noticeable.
The Three Labs
It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on this project and as long as I don’t get too annoyed with it – mostly because of thread breakages – I should be okay!
It’s the first of May as I’m writing this and it’s a beautiful autumn day in Canberra. I’m making the most of the beautiful weather by writing this post outside, under my pergola because I spend 90% of my time in front of the computer or television. I’m not sure how long the nice weather is going to last. The weather people are saying that we’re meant to be getting some rain coming through next week. Maybe on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The other good thing with the weather at the moment, is that I’m trying to get outside more to start running more! Since December last year, I’ve had a lot of muscle tightness around my right heel because I wasn’t stretching enough (if at all) after any exercise I did and my feet weren’t happy with some of my running shoes. With a lot of help from my personal trainer and some stretches I’ve been trying to do at home, my right foot is a lot better. So much so, I was able to compete / participate in my first 5.4km fun run in over 12 months!
At the start of April Canberra hosted the Canberra Times Marathon that had a number of distances that people could participate in. Full credit to the organisers for this event because it was all happening on one day! This is significant because normally it’s spread out across two days – usually a Saturday and Sunday – where the shorter distances like the kids events (about 1 to 2km) through to the 10km event and maybe the half marathon (21km). Then the Sunday would have the marathon (40km +/-) and ultra-marathon (anything over 40-41km). So to have people competing in these different distances on the same day at different times takes a lot of organising and they did really well!
The additional challenge to this event was the weather. I have run in most types of weather combinations with the exception of snow. Mostly because it doesn’t snow frequently enough here in Canberra for it to really ever be something I need to consider. The day of the running event, it was really windy and a cold wind too coming in from the West. I really don’t like running in the wind and I was concerned about how sheltered the course was going to be and the hardest part was running into the wind for the finish line. But we got lucky for the 5.4km course. It was mostly sheltered and it was just towards the end that was hard. I really felt for the people who were running the half marathon and longer. They were out in the open for at least half of their courses and it takes a lot more energy and strength to be able to run in that wind and achieve the times you want.
With all of that in mind, I’ve signed up to participate in the 5km Gold Coast Airport Fun Run in July! It’s perfect timing because my boyfriend and I will technically have finished up our contracts with work and we will both be due for a good holiday then. Also, the Gold Coast is in the South-Eastern part of Queensland and is a winter escape for many of the southern Australian states that get very cold during winter.
But enough about that, lets get onto talking about some cross stitch!
I’m starting to struggle with WIPGO. I know my goals were a bit too ambitious for the projects I have on my board and I’ve started a few more projects to balance out some of my struggles!
My biggest struggle point with Dew Drop Daisy is I’m out by 3 stitches for nearly everything I’ve stitched so far. The slight positive is that I just need to add 3 stitches and normally this would be fine if I was just working on the background. The problem is that this is impacting the petals I’m starting to work on and I don’t have all of the colours I need to complete the petals – but I’m working on that!
So rather than adding the extra 3 stitches where I need them on Dew Drop Daisy, I found where the page ended and I’ve started stitching it from right to left. My aim is to use the right side of the page to see where I need to add the 3 stitches – especially when I get to the petals that I’ve started stitching. The image below shows you what I’m talking about…
Fight Like a Girl by Tanya Amity
I’m struggling to pinpoint my exact struggles with this project. I know I’ve talked about them before and they seem minor now. Whenever I do pick it up, I enjoy stitching it! I think my problem at the moment may be that I have so many other projects I want to work on or need to for Hot Cross Stitching, that this one falls to the way-side.
For this month though, I think my biggest struggle has been having all of the threads I need to stitch it. During the last two weeks of April, my boyfriend and I went to the coast for a few days and I took this project and Autumn Castle with me. Because they’re both in the same bag and they share a similar grouping of threads. Big mistake! I assumed I had packed the threads I need for Fight Like a Girl, but I hadn’t because I was hunting through them for a colour I needed for a different project. This is where it was good that Autumn Castle and Fight Like a Girl share a similar colour pallet!
Disclaimer: I’m having an ethical dilemma with Autumn Castle. When I’d purchased it, I hadn’t realised that Heaven and Earth Designs have an identical pattern, but called Mini Trick or Treat and the designer is Randal Spangler. I’m feeling conflicted with this because I think I bought a counterfeit. I’ll leave it at this for the moment and I’ll write a separate post about this dilemma and why it is one, even though I had purchased it.
The main thing I need to ensure is good lighting with this project. I’m working on this project mostly at night time after work, and the room I normally stitch in has reasonably good light from the main light in the room. But I’m finding that it’s not quite enough for what I need. Thankfully I have my stitching corner in that same room, with my Over-the-top (OTT) light and it’s awesome!
I didn’t achieve my goal for Fight Like a Girl, but I am happy with my progress which is shown below:
Earlier I mentioned that I competed / participated in the 5.4km fun run and it was windy and cold. I came down with a minor cold as a result of the run and the weather, which meant that I took a day off work to recover. To make me feel better (and while I was waiting for a heap of wax to melt) I went online shopping!
Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated in any way with the shop I bought my supplies from. I’m shouting them out because of their amazing turn around time and customer service. Especially since many of us have been experiencing slow shipping and challenges with getting the supplies we need.
I ended up buying some fabric and big bundle of threads to help me with Dew Drop Daisy and Pink Bottle Brush from OzStich. They’re an online Australian store and are awesome! To search for the threads I needed, I just entered in the DMC colours I needed and how many of each skein I needed and the site added the skeins to my basket. This is something I’ve not experienced before and I think it worked really well because it saved me time trying to search for the colour I need and finding out that it’s not in stock or scrolling through pages to located the colour and add it to my basket.
The fabric I bought is the Magic Count, 20×20 gridded, 25 count fabric. I’ve just started stitching on it (barely made a dent in the pattern, but that’s for another time!) and it’s awesome! I’ve never used this fabric before and I love that it’s available from the majority of craft stores we all get our supplies from.
One thing I’m playing with and learning with this fabric, is how many strands of floss I can use. At the moment I’m using 2 strands per 1 square which is providing more than enough coverage and I’m going to need to drop it down to 1 over 1. Mostly because of how bulky my crosses are looking on the fabric and in some cases, my crosses are looking un-even. But that could also be a lot to do with the way I’m stitching, where I might be pulling the thread too tight or not tight enough.
Side note – melting wax
I make my own candles out of the left over wax from other candles I’ve received as gifts or purchased. Some of the wax I was melting in April, has lasted me a few rounds of candle making!
Before the pandemic, I was in the habit of burning a candle while I work on my blog posts or when I was studying. When the time came to work from home, I debated whether or not to burn a candle during work time because I’d been so accustomed to burning one outside of work hours. Most days I light a candle while I’m waiting for the computer to load and get ready for the working day. I like the ritual and most of the time, the candle still has a nice perfume, even though this may be the second time the wax has been in the form of a candle.
Also, I really like the candle holders the original candles came in and I want to keep using them as candle holders for as long as I can!
Leading up to May, I was debating whether or not to participate because I’m already struggling with meeting my WIPGO goals. And by adding any Maynia goals to the mix could lead to nothing getting done!
To try and make it a little easier on myself, I added all of my patterns and projects that I want to work on (at least during May) to the decision maker wheel app I downloaded to my phone. With today being the 1st May, I’ve spun the wheel and a new start has come up for me!
Seahorse (mini) by Heaven and Earth Designs
I bought this pattern as a PDF recently when HAED had their 50% off sale. I remember a while ago seeing Jessie Marie Does Stuff showing this project on her flosstube channel and I really liked the look of it.
This pattern has been designed to be full coverage, but I want to try something a little different and stitch it on a moss green 25 count Lugana and not stitch the background. The deceiving part of this pattern is that it doesn’t look like there’s a background to stitch. Stick with me over the next few months and you’ll start to see what I mean!
May WIPGO Goals
I won’t talk too much about my goals here, since much of what I’m going to be working on will be connected to Stitch Maynia and the decisions app. This month Autumn Castle and Santa’s Coming were called up and hopefully I can make some progress on at least one of them!
This has been a long post, so if you’ve made it to the end, thank you! I’m going to finish up the post here and enjoy the rest of the day and beautiful weather.