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!
Happy New Year! I hope it’s been a good start to the new year for you, as much as it can be.
It’s been a while since I’ve published a post because I’ve been on holidays since Boxing Day through to Tuesday 12th January 2021 and enjoying my stitching bubble. So much so, I’ve finished a project I didn’t expect to finish so soon and I have made a lot of progress on another project that has needed a lot of attention!
In my last post, I talked about many of my Works in Progress (WIP) being part of WIPGO 2021 and below is the board I’ve put together:
How it works in a nutshell
The idea behind WIPGO is that it’s like a bingo board in the sense that the squares are numbered and Jessie Marie who runs / is the organiser for the Facebook group (I’ve come across her on Youtube via her Flosstube channel called Jessie Marie Does Stuff), uses a random number selector app to select two numbers between 1 and 25 per month. Jessie Marie would then post those two numbers in the Facebook group and that would help all participants to use their boards and know which projects they were going to be working on.
Side note: I hadn’t realised until recently, that a standard sized bingo board has 25 squares, and to make it easier, it’s the reason why the numbers between 1 and 25 are selected for WIPGO! Also, the numbers for the next month are drawn and posted on the Facebook group on the 27th of each month (in the case of numbers for January, they were posted in December 2020), so we have time to prepare our projects if need be for the next month.
The other cool thing with WIPGO is that there are few rules we, as a collective, need to abide by. We get to make our own rules and goals for our own boards, because everyone is different and the aim is to keep it fun and light. In my case, I’ve chosen to aim for stitching 250 crosses per day for each project that has been selected for that particular month.
For January, three numbers were selected – numbers 13, 6 and 18. The space for number 13 is a free space and we can do whatever we want with that space. In my case I chose to have a new start or free choice because I didn’t want to be limited to anything specific if I didn’t want to. I could have chosen to leave this square blank and just cross it off as being complete.
Which leaves me with squares 6 and 18 – the Gingerbread Train and 4 Seasons Kittens and my goal to stitch 250 crosses for the Gingerbread Train and 250 crosses or stitches on 4 Seasons Kittens per day for the whole month of January or until the project is complete – whichever happens sooner.
Last year when I was participating in Stitch Maynia, I learnt quickly that trying to count my stitches after I’ve stitched them (when using paper patterns) was time consuming and took some of the fun out of it. I tried to make it a little easier for myself by using coloured pencils to help differentiate between each time I sat down and worked on the projects, and it did help a little.
With that memory in mind, I made the most of the coloured pencils at the coast house and made my paper patterns for Gingerbread Train and 4 Seasons Kittens look like a rainbow! Each colour and section on the patterns would represent 250 stitches and a particular day – e.g. red = day 1, orange = day 2 etc, regardless of which pattern it was. That way I would know which section I was going to work on for that day and that it added up to 250 stitches.
When I was sorting out the pattern for Gingerbread Train, I realised pretty quickly that I would have the project completed within the first 2 weeks or so of January (including backstitching and beading)! And if I was motivated enough with 4 Seasons Kittens, I’d have the Spring quarter 90% to 95% complete with some backstitching and French Knots to complete the next time it was called up.
What happens if I reach my goals before the end of the month?
That’s up to me. I can start some new projects to fill in the time until February starts or I can take a break from stitching and do some other crafty things instead or whatever I want (within reason). I can also work on some other WIP’s that haven’t made it onto the board.
In the case of the Gingerbread Train, I have chosen to replace it’s second listing on the board with a different project that didn’t make it onto the board, first time around. So when the number 20 is called, I’ll be working on Curglaff designed by Michelle Bendy Stitchy (the pattern can be purchased from her Etsy store).
I won’t be winning any prizes if I finish any of my projects ahead of time or complete a Bingo line before anyone else. I can however, choose to reward myself with setting aside some money to purchase a new pattern or cross stitch related item for every project I complete or line I complete. I’ve noticed in the Facebook group that some people have allocated certain rewards for every goal they achieve which I think is really cool, and a great way to help with the motivation with some projects that can be a struggle to work through.
For me, the reward is sticking to my goals and achieving them. I struggle to stick to my goals (for many parts of my life, not just cross stitch!) and I’m really excited about this WIPGO board and sticking with it because there are enough elements to it that will keep me motivated. There’s enough structure where I know what projects I will be working on and I have them organised enough so that there’s not much effort involved with bringing them out when they’re called. Then there’s the surprise or random element that keeps it interesting. I don’t know what numbers will be drawn until the 27th or 28th of January and that’s the random element I like.
The reward element may change over time and that’s my prerogative! As I’m writing this and thinking about what rewards I could incorporate are:
purchasing a new pattern
starting a new pattern or kit
creating a wishlist of patterns I would like, that family or friends could purchase for birthday’s or Christmas
getting a massage or manicure – or both!
road trip to a new craft store (if practical) or one I haven’t visited for a while
join a cross stitch class or group that meets face to face
learn how to crochet
re-organise and improve my crafty spaces (you may get to see my crafty space in future posts and you’ll see why this would be a reward!)
Stitch Maynia and March Madness
I’m still working on how this two months and events can fit into my WIPGO plans or if they can at all. Especially since I’m working full time and who knows what the year will bring work wise!
At the moment I’m liking the idea of participating in both and the idea of starting new things. The tricky thing is being organised and finding the right storage space for them. Which has me thinking about the project bags I’ve seen a lot of people talking about on Flosstube and how I can make them work for the projects I have. However that’s a new and different rabbit hole for me to scamper down!
Cross Stitch Project bags – what are they?
I’ve learnt that project bags come in a variety of sizes and can have handles to that they can be carried like a bag or just have zips, clips, velcro or anything that works well to keep everything contained inside the bag. The image below shows a very small sample of the huge variety of bags available that I’ve seen talked about on Flosstube.
I like the bags that have the clear vinyl at the front so that you can see what’s in the bag and what project should be inside. My struggle is having a bag big enough to fit the boxes I use for some of my large projects (that have over 100 colours), as well as the hoops and everything I need for the project.
The good thing is that there are larger bags that are akin to small luggage/suitcase style bags available to suit my needs and I will need to do some more searches online to see what could work for me. My struggle at the moment is to have something slim enough to easily store away when I’m not working on it and easy enough to take with me when I’m travelling. Yet large enough to fit all of the tools I need for the project without it compromising the project.
I have been stitching the 4 Seasons Kittens by Dimensions methodically since it’s number was called for on the WIPGO board – and even more so since I finished the Gingerbread Train on 16th January 2021.
The first image below shows what I’ve done since 1st January 2021 through to 17th January 2021. I’ve probably spent more time on this project than the Gingerbread Train because of the amount of half stitch this project has. Also, I need to do nearly double the amount of stitches on this project than the Gingerbread Train that is just full crosses, to enable me to be satisfied with reaches the goals I’ve set for it.
To help put this progress into perspective, below is the progress I had made on the project by the end of 2020:
Because of the significant progress I’ve made on the Spring quarter of this project, I think I’ll be able to get it done!
Gingerbread Train designed by Shannon Christine
I really enjoyed stitching this project. It was colourful and fun and I really like the patterns from Shannon Christine Designs because they are easy to read and I love her colour choices.
This pattern called for it to be stitched on 28 count Sky High evenweave fabric. At the time I may not have had 28 count fabric or enough for this pattern, so I stitched it on 14 count Aida from Threaded Needle that had the green marble look you see in the above image, printed on one side of the fabric. All threads are DMC and all bar two colours are the called for colours. The two colours I altered were because I didn’t have them in my stash at the time and I don’t think it’s detracted from the pattern in the slightest.
If I were to stitch the pattern again, I would ensure to give myself enough room to stitch all of the letters for ‘Sweet Christmas Wishes’ and I’d see if I could adjust the font for the letters or change the colour I use for the outline of the letters. I might also have the white dots as beads instead of individual white crosses.
The other really good thing about this pattern, is that it got me over my reluctance to use beads in patterns. This pattern reminded me that as long as I’m careful with getting the beads on the special beading needle and I remain patient, everything will be okay!
For now I have this project ironed and rolled up with my other completed but not FFO’ed (fully finished objects) projects. I’m thinking that I could turn it into a sign that could be hung or nicely displayed somewhere. My mind will probably change multiple times before I finally finish it too!
*Big Sigh* Wow, what a year it’s been! Happy holidays and happy new year to all of you. I hope all of you have been able to celebrate the holidays as well as practical. I’m so thankful that this year is ending very differently to what last year because this time last year in Australia – especially along the East and Southern coast – so much was on fire. Now, as I’m writing this post, I’m at the coast with my boyfriend and we can breath easy, the sun it out and it’s a lot more comfortable (weather wise) than last year!
I’ve been doing a lot of stitching this month and trying to get myself a bit more organised for the new year. I’ve been working a lot from home, so my motivation to spend more time than necessary in front of the computer screen and my craft room has been reduced significantly. I’ve also been battling analysis paralysis with some of my computer related cross stitch tasks and confidence levels for ‘putting myself out there’ on social media. But it’s a necessary evil if I want things to progress!
I’ve also been running a bit more which has been good. I’ve got a new pair of shoes that have bluetooth in them that enables them to talk to the Map My Run app. As I’m running, the app gives me feedback on how I’m running and what I can do to improve it! For example, I might be looking down at my feet too much because of something that’s interfering with the footpath (plants, uneven sections etc.). The app will tell me that I need to straighten my back up a bit and pretend that there’s a string attached to the top of my head like a puppet. Straightening up should help with the way I place my feet when running and reduce my risk of injuries and make running feel less like an effort.
But without further adieu, here is my WIP (works in progress) parade for 2020. It will include many patterns you have seen over the year and a few new ones:
12 Days of Christmas designed by Rhona Norrie
It’s been a long time since I last worked on this project. I’m thinking it must have been June or July this year when I started it and I haven’t touched it until about a week ago, for the lead up to Christmas.
Ryan’s been a good boy designed by Durene Jones
Similar to the 12 Days of Christmas project, I haven’t worked on it since June or July this year and as part of getting into the Christmas mood, this project came out again and got some love.
Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms designed by Kristen Gawronski for Hot Cross Stitching
I have been working steadily on this project for a while now and towards the end of November, maybe early December, I finished another page (que mini happy dance!). I’m now working on the bottom of the project and playing fabric chicken to see if I need to add more fabric.
Meanwhile, the images below show the progress of the project over the course of this year, with the final image showing what it will look like when it’s finished.
Black and White Rolled-up Daisy designed by Kristen Gawronski for Hot Cross Stitching
As excited as I am to have started this project and even happier that it went smoothly into Pattern Keeper, I’m already needing to fudge things to figure out where I went wrong and what I’ve accidentally marked off.
Pink Daisy (November or December new start) designed by Kristen Gawronski for Hot Cross Stitching
I had been procrastinating this start for way too long. I had been debating about starting this project and another one I’m still trying to perfect the pattern before I’m happy with starting it, let alone releasing it for sale.
Gingerbread Train designed by Shannon Christine
I haven’t worked on this project since June or July this year. When I was going through my projects in preparation for this post, I was reminded of how cool this pattern is and how much I want to eat jelly lollies when I’m stitching it!
Boo Sheet (November new start and finish)
This particular pattern had been a free one as part of the online Mittagong Stitcher’s Retreat I had been part of in late November. I was able to get it stitched in about 2 days and I stitched it on 32 evenweave I had purchased from Spotlight and dyed using orange and purple fabric dyes, also from Spotlight.
Curglaff (November new start) designed by Bendy Stitchy
I have been wanting to stitch this pattern for a while. It’s designed by Bendy Stitchy (check out her YouTube channel) and inspired by Mich Stitch (she also has a YouTube channel)! At the end of each episode, Mich reads a random word from a dictionary she has on old English words that are rarely or no longer used, and ‘curglaugh’ had been one of those words.
I’m stitching it on the same fabric as Boo Sheet and this time I’m using some specialty threads that are made by Aussies! I’m really excited about this because I’m supporting an Aussie business and I’ve never used such fancy threads before. I predominantly use DMC and Anchor because they’re readily available and aren’t as expensive as the specialty threads. That said, these threads are well worth it! They are beautiful and I appreciate the time and effort the team has gone through to create and package the threads.
Fight Like a Girl designed by Tanya Amity, Illustration by Elena Gnedkova
It’s been way too long since I’ve worked on this project. The good thing is that it’s included in my new WIPGO board for 2021. When the squares for this project have been called, I’ll hopefully be able to get a lot more work done on it!
Check out the related posts section for more information on WIPGO.
Autumn Castle designed by Evgenia Kolesnikova
This project has received a very little bit of love in November, but nothing substantial enough to notice much of a difference. Similarly to ‘Fight Like a Girl’, it’s on my WIPGO Board and it will get some more love in 2021!
The first three pictures below show what the project will look like when it’s completed and what my earlier progress had been at key points during 2020. The fourth picture is my progress as of December 2020.
Three Dogs by Luca S.
This project has not been loved for some time and it’s long overdue to get some attention. Thankfully it’s on my WIPGO board and it will get the attention it deserves next year!
Moon Lit Waters Heaven and Earths Designs
Whenever I look at this project, I’m reminded of why I started stitching it and then when I start work on it again, I’m reminded why I paused it. Which explains why I haven’t worked on it for a while and why I need to do more on it.
Merry Colourful Christmas by Tilton Crafts (December new start)
This is a very new start, so I don’t have any comparison pictures. I’m currently stitching it on 25 count (I think) and using all DMC threads. I’m using two threads over two squares and I’m playing a bit of fabric chicken with this project because I haven’t properly measured it out!
Moonlight Owls designed by Jenny Barton
Honestly, I forgot about this project when I first started drafting this post. Thankfully, drafting this post has meant that I’ve remembered that I have this project and I now have it in the same bag as the projects 12 Days of Christmas, Ryan’s been a good boy and Gingerbread Train.
Rainbow Zebras by Artecy Cross Stitch
Like Midnight Owls, I forgot I had this as an active WIP! How could I forget something as colourful as this?! Because I’ve forgotten about this project, it hasn’t seen much attention, but that will change in 2021.
Barnyard Cats by Dimensions
I completely forgot about this project. It didn’t even make to my WIPGO board! That said, like the Trio of dogs, I’ll try and include it when the number 13 is called and it can get some attention then!
Four Seasons Kittens by Dimensions Gold Collection
This project has been dragging on for longer than what it really should be. Thankfully I have remembered to include it in my WIPGO board and it will get some attention next year!
I’ve been having a bad case of analysis paralysis over two projects I’m keen to start but scared to at the same time. Which has me wondering how many other stitchers have similar experiences?
Finding the right piece of fabric
Having the right piece of fabric for a pattern can make the world of difference with the finish for the project. This can range from the count size to the physical dimensions and ensuring there’s enough of a border to help with finishing it – e.g. framing. It can also be the colour of the fabric. Many people have trouble with stitching on dark fabric regardless of what the count size is and how awesome the project may look on that colour.
I’m currently stitching a project on a 32 count Belfast linen that I’ve dyed myself and I’m finding that without some really good light and regular breaks from it, my eyes are getting tired and I’m struggling to properly focus.
I had considered using this fabric for my Dew Drop Daisy project, but seeing how my current projects are working out on it, I’ve made the right decision not to use it for Dew Drop!
I’m also considering using the purple fabric I’ve dyed myself for Dew Drop Daisy or the Pink Bottlebrush (aka the Pink Grevillea). It’s roughly 25 count fabric and I don’t think I have enough fabric for the pattern. That has me wondering, ‘should I adjust the pattern to fit the fabric?’ or ‘purchase the fabric I need for the pattern?’
It’s a daunting pattern
It may be your first Heaven and Earth Design or similar pattern and you may not know where to start. Or there’s a lot of colour changes and you may not have all of the tools you need to make a start. Alternatively, you’re working on a Chatelaine (see European Cross Stitch Company) and they are beautiful, big and challenging in a positive way. Check out the Flosstube channels Teresa Little Stitcher and Jessie Marie Does Stuff – both of them are working on Chatelaine’s and they’re going to be beautiful!
In my case, one of the patterns I want to work on is huge and I’m wanting it to be part of the Hot Cross Stitching collection. So my challenge is to try and reduce the size of the pattern and number of colours required without losing any of the key features that make it such a good looking picture. If I don’t make any changes to the picture, I would need over a meter’s worth of material (including enough to frame it) and over 300 threads. Some of those threads would be for just 1 stitch! To me that’s not cool and if the pattern is going to be part of the Hot Cross Stitching collection, then some significant changes need to be made!
Too many patterns to choose from
How big is your collection? Are you in a situation where you have many patterns to choose from, but none of them are pulling at your hands to say ‘stich me!’, ‘stitch me!’?Which results in spending a lot of time on the internet or your local craft store searching for a pattern that grabs your attention. Alternatively, are all of the patterns wanting you to stitch them at the same time?
I’ve certainly told myself on multiple occasions that I’m not going to purchase another pattern until I’ve finished some of the ones I’m currently working on. Let alone started ones that have been in my collection for many years. Then I see an ad or I’m told about a designer or pattern that looks really cool. Before I know it, I’m looking things up and buttons are pressed and I have another PDF pattern in my collection!
The good things is that I’m not alone in this. I regularly hear people in the stitching community talking about ‘being enabled’ by other stitchers. It’s what we do and one of the best forms of marketing!
Time, space and health
Work and / or family may be your key focus at the moment, and the main time you have to set aside for yourself is when you’re tired and need to rest. If you do have some flexibility with your time and money, space to do your stitching and store your supplies may be limited because of where you live. Alternatively, there may be other factors affecting your ability to try and stitch. Some of which may be associated with the current crisis the world is experiencing.
Personally, I’ve lost a little bit of my stitching mojo because of some discomfort I’ve been experiencing with my right wrist. I’m right hand dominant and a few weeks ago I spent nearly all day stitching and I haven’t done something like that for a very long time. It resulted in my wrist letting me know that it wasn’t happy about it! My wrist is on the mend thankfully, but it put a bit of a dent in my desire to stitch.
Another example is my analysis paralysis about the work I’m doing and what work I need to do next. Ultimately, it’s my fear factor and my logic of the world that is stopping me from doing what I need to do.
Mistakes are made in the project
Mistakes regularly happen in stitching projects – hence the term ‘frogging’, we are regularly ‘ripping’ things out because we’ve mis-counted or used the wrong colour thread. Some people draw the line at how much frogging they do and consider the mistakes as personalisations rather than mistakes and leave them as they are. Which is where fudging happens – working around the personalisation to make it fit into the rest of the pattern.
However, how significant is the mistake that it causes you to pause it and procrastinate? Is the project off my a number of squares and you don’t know where the mistake happened? Alternatively, the mistake happened a while ago and you’re too far gone to frog it and personalising it is significantly difficult? Stitching over the mistake to try and correct it makes the stitches look really bulky and more often than not, the underlying colour shows through revealing the cover-up.
Another mistake could be the mis-calculation of fabric and you’re about to run out of fabric just when the pattern gets exciting. Adding more fabric to where you need it, but there’s the risk of the stitches not holding the join. Or you and non-stitchers can see the crease or join line. The image below is a perfect example of this.
I had been working on it for quite some time and I’ve put it on an extended pause because of the amount of fabric I have compared with the amount I still have to stitch. You will also notice that I don’t have any space above my stitching at the top of the pattern. If I choose to frame this project, I may need professional help!
Something got lost
Have you lost a part of the pattern or something critical to help you start or finish the project?
I have a zebra project that I started many years ago and I may not pick up again because I lost half of the pattern, and as Murphys’ Law would have it, that’s the part I need to finish the project!
I have considered purchasing a second kit so that I could finish the project. It would also mean that I would have additional fabric and thread. How awful right?! More fabric and thread! I had also considered and tried as you can see in the above image, trying to stitch the pattern off the cover page. It started becoming a bit difficult because the cover page is framed and I’m thinking it may partly covered by the frame the finished project is in.
As a result, I’m pausing it because I have a lot of other projects I’m enjoying and I’ve started the Rainbow Zebras (my name for the project), so I’m still getting my Zebra fix!
Are you comfortable with this procrastination?
The key question though, is how comfortable do you want to be with your procrastination and reasons why you’re procrastinating? If you jumped in and tested the waters, what could go wrong and what could go right? Are the things that could go right, scarier than the things that could go wrong?
If you don’t do anything with the procrastination, then nothing really happens. Ultimately, you’re stuck. Are you okay with this?
However, if you do make a start on the project or pick it up again, then you have the opportunity to make things right – if there’s an error in the project – or you at least start moving forward. By making things right, you’re no longer feeling uncomfortable because of the procrastination. You have the opportunity to see if your worries or fears are founded. You also have the opportunity to see how awesome the project actually is. It could even be something you’re proud of and want to tell people about!
A fair bit has happened since I last published a blog post. I’ve been procrastinating starting some of my projects, attended an online stitchers retreat, done some shopping and dyed some fabric for the first time! I’ve also gotten some stitching done in between sneezing and blowing my nose because of hay fever.
Online retreat and a fan girl moment…
The weekend we just had (21st and 22nd November) was my first online stitching retreat and it was really cool! It was the Mittagong Stitcher’s Retreat and the organisers did really well to setup Facebook rooms where attendees could do a video style stitch and chat. There were challenges with prizes, free charts that some designers had charted and donated to the retreat and links to some online stores with discount codes.
My nerves got the best of me for the first online stitching room I joined and which added to me being awkward and trying really hard not to fan girl too much. Mich Stitch was one of the organisers for the Mittagong Stitchers Retreat and I love watching her Flosstube channel. She’s an Aussie flosstuber and she had been one of the people in the first group I had joined on Saturday morning. It was great being able to chat with her and two other people in the group who were based in America.
Unfortunately the internet dropped out after a while. But I took it as a hint to get up and go for a walk. Over the weekend my boyfriend and I were at the coast and we had changed internet providers. This was the first time we had used the internet at the coast since signing up with new providers.
The second time around I joined the stitching group, I used me phone as a hot spot and it worked out really well. I was able to meet some new people and my nerves weren’t anywhere near as bad as the first time around, so my fan girling wasn’t too bad and I got to meet Kelly (aka Animal Instinct on flosstube) who is another Aussie flosstuber and I love a lot of the projects she’s working on and has completed. I also got to meet a number of cross stitching Canberran’s. I was buzzing with excitement by the end of it!
Throughout the Mittagong Stitchers Retreat weekend I was working on the Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms. I’m really happy with how it’s tracking and when I was taking photos of my progress to date, I’m starting to think that I could get away with reducing the number of pages in the project!
I was also able to get some work done on the Black and White Daisy before we headed to the coast and I’m happy with the progress – even though I’m going to have to take a bit more care with this one! I found that I was a bit too relaxed with this piece when using Pattern Keeper and I’ve miscounted some part of the white petal. I’m hoping that over time I’ll be able to amend whatever mistakes I’ve made!
First time dyeing fabric
Over the weekend I finally dyed some fabric for cross stitch! It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while – especially after watching a number of Flosstube episodes from America. A while ago I had purchased some pre-cut 32 count Belfast linen and some iDye colours from Spotlight, with the intention of dying it and using it for one of my patterns. Over the weekend I also purchased some fabric from the Rosemont The Patchwork Shop in Mogo and I used one of the pieces of fabric for the dyeing job.
I decided to use orange and purple as the main colours and on the orange piece I wanted to try some tye-dying with some purple to give it a bit of a marbled look. Below are the two pieces I dyed. One of the images is a close-up of the orange piece to show you the marbled purple:
The orange piece is the 32 count Belfast linen and I stitched a free pattern from the Mittagong Stitchers Retreat on it. My head is spinning even now, just thinking about it. The pattern turned out really well. I found that I was starting to get a bit of a headache because of the focus my eyes needed to do for the fabric.
I’m really happy with how both pieces turned out and I’m keen to dye some more fabric! I’m thinking that I’ll try my hand at some 14 count brown fabric I have in my collection to see how that goes. Because both fabrics I used for my first dying attempt were light colours and I’m curious about how the iDye colours will go on a darker colour.
I mentioned earlier that I had done some shopping at Mogo and I was able to get my fix at the Rosemont The Patchwork Shop by purchasing some beautiful cards and fabric. They have the softest pink Aida there, I couldn’t help but pick up some more!
I’m not sure what I’ll stitch on the fabric yet. The good thing is that I have plenty of patterns to choose from. The tricky part will be deciding on which pattern to stitch on which piece of fabric!
I also have some more haul on it’s way that I will have to show later. As part of the Mittagong stitchers retreat, I purchased some hand-dyed silky threads! I’ve never stitched with these types of threads before and I have a couple of patterns in mind that I think I’ll use them for. When the threads come in I’ll share pictures of them with you and the patterns I’ll stitch them on.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I could do with some extra hours of sleep! Hayfever has kicked in for me for another year and it’s going to be a great year for it! Not just because it’s 2020 and what we’ve all experienced to date. But in Canberra and the surrounding area, we thankfully have had some really good rainfalls and the grass and plants are growing really well. So much so that some homes near where I live are having trouble with keeping up with their mowing and the grass has grown so tall that it’s about the same height as me, if not taller! By the way, I’m about 150 to 155 centimetres tall or about 5 feet and so many inches – depending on the time of day.
All day stitching
Halloween (31st October) was the best day for me to get some stitching done. I’ve surprised myself by how much I got done! It also helped that the weather wasn’t great for being outside. It happened to be the day that many south side suburbs of Canberra beat a 40 year record of the amount of rain it received for the day of over 40 mils. I live north side, so we didn’t get as much rain, but it was still a lot.
This meant that I was able to stitch on the second pattern I’ve designed for my business, Hot Cross Stitching, called ‘Black and White Rolled-up Daisy’:
I’m stitching it on 18 count black Aida and I’m using Pattern Keeper to track what I’m stitching. Below is my progress to date. I started it about two weeks ago and I’ve started in the top left corner. I appreciate that the photo above looks nothing like what I’ve stitched below. The exciting thing however, is that the stitching I’ve done below is me testing out how well this image is going to turn out. Which will formulate some of the instructions and tips and tricks I can include with the pattern.
On Saturday 31st October, I was able to stitch over 1,100 stitches! Something I’ve not done in a very long time. It was awesome! I had Flosstube playing on the television and I was able to catch up on a few of clips from about 2 weeks ago.
The pattern so far is stitching really well and I’ve learnt a couple of things with this pattern already:
Shorten the amount of thread on the needle. Otherwise the strands will start to fray and break. I’m stitching the pattern 2 strands over one square of Aida and I’m use to using longer strands – roughly one strand that is the same length as my arms if I stretch my left and right arm either side of my body, then fold that strand in half to make it two strands.
Stitching all day may not have been the best thing for my right wrist. I’ve managed to misplace the special support stitching gloves, so I’m going to ease up on my stitching for a little bit to see how things go. I’m also an office worker and I’m right handed!
Swapping the needle for different size may make a difference with my right hand and the wrist.
I want to start another design already! Organising the threads for the next couple of Hot Cross Stitching designs has been interesting. They’re large patterns and my boyfriend is amazed by how many there are and has jokingly asked if I have enough! I also need to add that he’s a very neat person and he copes well with me having my cross stitch all over the place. As much as I try to contain it all, there are times when mini explosions happen, like when I’m organising the next pattern or three I want to start and there are threads and fabric everywhere!
Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms Progress
This project has been a slow and steady one. One of the things I’m liking about this project is the nice mixture of confetti and solid stitching. I tend to know when I’m getting to the sticks and blades of grass when the confetti kicks in and the mushroom tends to be more solid.
The image below on the left is my progress as of 7th November 2020 and the image on the right is my progress as of September/early October 2020. The photo below the two progress shots is what the cross stitch should look like (roughly) when it’s done.
Considering how these two projects are going, I’m really keen to start on a couple of my other designs. I’m trying to shrink those patterns down a bit to try and fit them with some of the fabric I already have. I’m also reminding myself that I have other projects that need some love and attention, but at the moment I’m not going to pressure myself to work on them or feel guilty that I’m not because of everything that I’m doing now!
In a couple of weeks time I’ll be taking some time off my 9 to 5 job that will hopefully mean that I can focus a bit more on stitching, converting more photos to patterns and continuing to get the background of the website sorted out so that I can launch it! In between all of that, hopefully do something awesome with my boyfriend to celebrate his birthday – even though he doesn’t see his birthday as anything much to celebrate!
It’s been a while between drinks (ages since I’ve published a post). A lot’s been going on since I last posted to this blog. My main focus has been on developing my new side hustle – Hot Cross Stitching!
The purpose of Hot Cross Stitching is teaching people how to cross stitch face-to-face and selling selling my cross stitch patterns online. The classes will initially be held in my home town, Canberra with three different types of classes people can choose from – Beginner, Intermediate and Social.
The beginner class will focus on people who have never done cross stitch or it’s been a very long time since they’ve done it. People will learn how to read a pattern, thread their needle, change colours, convert what they see in the pattern to stitching it on a blank piece of fabric. As well as finding the centre of their fabric and marking off the pattern as they stitch/keeping track of where they’ve stitched just to name a few things!
The intermediate class will focus on people who have been stitching for a few years and want to improve their skills and tackle some more challenging projects, whilst having the support of stitching friends around them. People in this class will learn how to kit up their own projects, which includes choosing the right size and amount of fabric they need for their project. People will also be able to use the class to bounce ideas off their stitching friends regarding the different ways to store their projects – especially the threads – and try out some different types of threads such as silks, verigated threads and metalics to name a few.
Meanwhile, the social group is for anyone and everyone – regardless of how long someone has been stitching for. The aim of this group is for people to come a long for as long as they want and to stitch with some friends and chat as much or as little as they want. Over the years I’ve found that I have learnt more through just stitching and chatting and comparing notes. However, I’ve not taken any formal cross stitching classes to be able to compare!
Over all, the aim of all of these classes/groups is for people to connect safely face-to-face, learn something new that hopefully they like and make some new friends. This year especially has been a testament for how important human interaction has been for everyone and the use of art and craft to enable people to have a creative outlet.
I’m hoping that over time, I’ll be able to run some classes from a public space at the South Coast as well. But that may happen once I’m no longer working in my current 9 to 5 job.
The patterns people will be able to purchase as PDF downloads are of photos I’ve taken over time and converted to patterns. One of which will be the Gundaroo Mini Mushrooms that I’ve been stitching for potentially a couple of years. I haven’t kept exact track of when I started and it feels like I’ve been working on it for the last couple of years! Below is a sample of images that I’ve converted to patterns, that will be available for purchase:
The website is currently under construction and I’ll let you all know when it’s publicly available. This blog will be connected to the site and my aim over time (and let’s see if it actually happens!), is to use this blog to still talk about cross stitch and a bit about the business as well.
Aside from working on the website, I’ve also been travelling to the coast a bit and as I’m writing this post, I’m at the coast looking out the window from the dining table and at times it’s really hard to concentrate! As I’m looking between the two trees in the image below, I’m on the look out for any breaks in the water that can’t be explained by waves crashing on rocks or boats sailing past.
One of the last times I was here, I was able to see some sprays of water from whales cruising past in the distance! That was something really special, as I never thought we’d be able to see something like that from this window. Normally when my boyfriend and I have been here, we’ve gone for walks to the nearby cliff tops and we’ve been able to see the whales from there and some dolphins. It’s really exciting and special when that happens, because we’re not always lucky enough to get our timing right to see them.
The other awesome thing that’s happened recently (last week to be precise!) is a really awesome experience my boyfriend and I did as part of a birthday present from my parents and boyfriend. We stayed overnight at the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra. This particular stay is part of the Jamala Wildlife Lodge that resides within the National Zoo and Aquarium.
When you’re booking your accommodation, you’re able to choose which lodge you stay in an nominate which three animals you would prefer to see. I need to point out here, that the three animals aren’t in the same enclosure together! The need to nominate which three animals you would prefer is part of which lodge is available at the time and which enclosure is connected to which lodge. For example, I chose the Jungle Bungalow and there are 5 lodges that are part of the Jungle Bungalows. One enclosure is assigned to each bungalow and I had the choice of the Sun Bears, Lions, Tigers and Cheetahs. The top three animals I nominated were the Tigers, Lions and Cheetahs and we were lucky enough to share our space with Ravi the male Tiger!
The images above were taken from the room we stayed in and Oh. My. Gosh! It was just amazing to see him doing his thing. For the most part he was on patrol and keeping an eye on things in his enclosure. His brother lives couple hundred of metres away from him (so that they don’t kill each other, the guide told us the next morning!), so he was calling out to him every so often and checking on him every so often. There’s clear window in the brother’s enclosures that enables them to look across a path and into each other’s enclosures!
When we left for dinner, Ravi was on patrol and when we came back, he was up close, next to the window and sleeping. It was then that we really got to appreciate how big he is. We found that he’d had most of his sleep by about 1 or 2 in the morning and he woke my boyfriend up, by calling out to the rest of the zoo from the spot we saw him sleeping at when we got home from dinner. I was sleeping very well at that stage and didn’t hear anything until about 4 in the morning or so.
When it was lighter in the morning, we found Ravi doing his rounds again and there were a few times that we thought he’d come up to the platform you see in some of the photos, but he kept going with his rounds. Just before we left for breakfast he did come up and sit down and it had been the first time during the day on either day we were at the zoo that he’d come up to the platform. We really didn’t want to go to breakfast at that point as we weren’t sure if he’d still be sitting there when we were due to get back. Thankfully he was and that’s where most of the pictures above have come from. It was amazing!
After breakfast we did a guided group tour around half of the zoo, which was really cool. Some of the animals we saw include some cheetahs, rhinos, monkeys, leemahs, zebras, giraffs and an ostrich. I took a lot of photos along the way and I’m wanting to turn some of them into cross stitch patterns for the website.
With all of this in mind, I haven’t done as much stitching as what I would have liked. I’m aiming to make amends for that over the next few days and get some more stitching done this afternoon and tomorrow. The weather from tomorrow afternoon ’til about Sunday/Monday is meant to be raining and indoor weather kind of stuff. So hopefully, I’ll have more cross stitch related things to talk about next time and there won’t be as much time between blog posts!
I’ve been contemplating the following question off and on for a while, and I’m keen for you to let me know what you think. In front of you is a photograph, a water colour painting and a cross stitch picture of the same scene – a waterfall in a rainforest. All three are for sale and priced at $2000 each. Which one do you purchase and why?
In September last year (2019), I was watching Jody Ellis’s Flosstube episode 33 (aka Unconventional X Stitch) dated 23 May 2019 and towards the end of clip, she talked about the value that many people place on cross-stitch when it’s compared with other crafts such as sculpting, painting, drawing and in some circumstances, photography. Finding that many people are willing to pay more for the traditional arts to have in their homes than the available embroidered works.
Because of this clip, it got me thinking about how we, as stitcher’s, can change people’s perceptions of cross stitch and the value it has, so that it’s perceived at the same levels as the other crafts where people pay hundreds and thousands of dollars. Additionally, Jody’s clip got me thinking about my blog post earlier in 2019 where I questioned the importance of perceptions – especially when it comes to cross stitch. Looking back on this piece, it had very much a rant vibe to it – mostly because of some things I was experiencing at work – and I don’t think my message came across as well as what it could or should have.
So what would be the best approaches for changing people’s perceptions and understanding of cross stitch?
The Archibald’s/ARIA’s/BAFTA’s/ACTA’s of Cross-stitch
Nearly every industry has their own awards to recognise the
achievements of people working in that industry. Many of us will have heard
about the Archibald’s, ARIA’s etc. and we know that they are prestigious awards
and highly coveted by people who are part of those industries. The closest cross-stitch
gets to these kinds of awards and accolades is winning best in show at the
regional show or royal show. We may be pushing it a bit if we say that we can
get awards from Fashion Week or Golden Globes for costume design.
What I’m getting at with this, is that people perceive cross-stitch as something to do to ease stress and anxiety. That it’s something that our grandmother’s do or did. I definitely use cross stitch as a way of unwinding and reducing my stress. Additionally, there are a lot of people out there who make their own clothes, paint, sculpt etc for the same reasons. However, there are many more people out there who are wanting to make a living out of cross stitch and are struggling to do so, because it’s seen as just a hobby or a form of therapy.
By having some prestigious awards associated with
cross-stitch, it will elevate the works of art to the same levels as fashion,
music, acting, painting, drawing, photography etc. People will start to
appreciate the time and effort that goes into the creation of these artworks.
Cross-stitch reality television show
Master Chef, My Kitchen Rules and similar cooking
competition shows gets us excited and interested in cooking. The Block, Flip or
Flop, Masters of Flip etc make some of us want to renovate or at least give our
current interiors a make-over. And talent shows like Australia’s Got Talent,
The Voice, America’s Next Top Model and So You Think You Can Dance have us
wondering if our singing in the shower or a secret talent could be our ticket
to some fame and fortune.
These shows also take us behind the scenes to some of the
industries that we do in our daily lives, but don’t always do for a living. They
also provide us with ideas for what we can do at home, aspire to be when we
grow up or become as part of a career change.
What would we need to dramatise to make a cross stitch reality show interesting for people? In many of these shows we get to find out a bit about the people who are on the show and by the end of it all, we feel like we know them a bit better and, in some circumstances, they become a part of our family. We have achieved some of this through social media channels. Via Flosstube especially, we have gotten to know many of the people with their own channels and the projects they’ve worked on.
A lot of drama can happen with cross-stitch if we show people what the creative process is like (e.g. designing a pattern), how many times we lose the needle or have to figure out what colour changes we’re going to do because we don’t have the floss colour we need. Then there’s the amount of times we may accidentally stab ourselves instead of the fabric and draw blood and the decisions we need to make about our finishes. Then there’s the innovations that go into cross stitch design and how the patterns have changed over time and what’s available to us now. We would be able to have challenges such as time limited shopping sprees and creating a project from those sprees. Alternatively, finishers would be presented with partly completed projects with multiple issues that could hinder or enhance the finish.
Collaborations, exhibitions and back stories
If cross stitchers got together and had an exhibition, what
would it look like? Would we have a variety of sections around the room
dedicated to samplers, photograph conversions, landscapes, HAED’s, Biscornu’s
and similar finishes, subversive and modern designs?
Additionally, what would you want people to know about the
pieces you have designed and stitched? Aside from the usual of telling people
what materials I’ve used, I want to tell people how long it took me to stitch
it and what I love about it. I would want them to know what was going on in my
life at the time of me stitching it. By telling people all of these things, my
aim would be to find someone who would connect with those pieces and want to
buy it and take it home with them because they resonate with it. They relate to
what I was going through and love the results of what I’ve done.
I’m procrastinating making a start on making a proper start on my website (more news to come), so I’m writing this post instead! I’m also pretty excited about finally finishing a project and it being my first biscornu (aka fancy pin cushion)!
In my last post, I talked about my start on a free rainbow biscornu pattern I’d found on the internet, from the Cross Stitch Crochet Others website.
Majority of the searches I’ve conducted on the ‘Net for biscornu patterns, majority of them are on lighter fabrics – regardless of the count size. They all look good on the lighter fabric. I chose to use 14 count black Aida because I had some that was the right size for the pattern and to me, there’s something about the darker fabrics that really make the colours pop.
I’ve filled the biscornu with some polyester ‘soft fill’ that I’ve had for ages from Lincraft.
The other traditional thing with biscornu’s is that a button is usually used in the middle of it to help with the finished shape. I’ve bucked the trend and chosen to use two little dog charms that I’ve had in my craft collection for ages, but I’ve not really known what I wanted to do with them. When I was fastening them to the biscornu, I’ve come to appreciate why buttons or beads are used rather than anything else. The holes in the buttons especially, make it so much easier to fasten them to the biscornu. Which is why you will see a bit of orange thread going across one of the little dogs.
Because of how quickly I was able to stitch this and put it together (overall it’s taken me about 3 weeks – potentially less if work didn’t get in the way!), I’m keen to stitch another one sometime soon.
Following my post last week, it gave me the motivation to start a biscornu. I’ve chosen the Rainbow Biscornu – a free pattern from the website crossstichcrochetothers.com.
I have loved stitching this pattern! I’ve chosen to stitch it on black 14 count Aida and I think it really makes the colours pop. I got most of the stitching done on Sunday and I’ve stitched the remaining portions of it over the rest of the week.
Once I finished back-stitching the pink, I was umming and arring over whether to stitch the same pattern again for the back, or to find something similar and have some smaller and simpler. After seeing how vibrant and awesome the pink looks with the rest of the colours, I couldn’t help but go through the rest of my floss collection and pick out similar colours to what you see in the above picture. Below is my progress and I’m slightly concerned that I’m pushing the limits with the edges of the fabric:
With the way things are tracking, I’m thinking that I need another full day of stitching so that I can have it done and dusted as quickly as possible.
Could this become the start of something new?
I’ve been browsing the Internet for different patterns to see if there’s anything that really grabs my attention. In recent years, I’ve seen some people stitching the Chipping Sparrow Biscornest by Crossed Wing Collection on the 123Stitch website. I’d like to stitch the Wintry Blooms Biscornu by Faby Reilly Designs on the 123Stitch website. What worries me with this biscornu is the specialty stitches that are on it.
But in the meantime, hopefully I’ll be able to finish the Rainbow Biscornu and within the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to show you a finish and some more progress on the other projects I have on the go!