The Better Alternative To Finding The Center Of Your Fabric

Clear center finding ruler (Source: Amazon)

I love a random tool I didn’t know I needed but ends up being the best thing since sliced bread. Odds are, you probably do to, which is why I’ve reviewed everything from cross stitch travel scissors to cross stitch identification cards and scissors that make frogging easy. However, all of those have something in common; they’re all tools for cross stitch. Today, I want to review a tool that is a fantastic addition to a cross stitchers arsenal, but one that wasn’t make for cross stitch; one that was made for woodwork.

The Center Finding Ruler

It’s not often that the worlds of cross stitch combine with the worlds of any heavy production and tooling, but quality woodwork is all about finesse, something every cross stitcher can relate to. Sadly, due to the nature of both, tools can rarely be shared, but this one can. Enter the world of a center finding ruler.
This little baby can be metal (and usually is for woodwork) but also comes in a handy floppy clear plastic. It works like a ruler, but the zero is right in the center, meaning you can measure out, and find the center of anything your measuring.

Clear center finding ruler (Source: Amazon)
Clear center finding ruler (Source: Amazon)

So why would I want one?

In a word; to find the center. Cleverly named product, right? But seriously, finding the center of your fabric is something everyone does when starting a new project, and the ruler is a great alternative to the typical folding technique (or the less clever, guesstimate technique). However, it’s not just an alternative. I would argue, it’s superior.
 
I like the folding technique, it’s simple and it gets the job done, but there’s one thing that really annoys me about it. The folds stay there, especially if you’re using a stiff aida. Now I know I could just iron it once finshed but sometimes this just doesn’t get them out, especially if they’ve been folded a long time (which is why you should store your fabric in tubes). You can push down harder, but no one wants to damage their work, and there are people that don’t wash or iron their cross stitch at all.
 
And so, a simple ruler comes to the rescue. Instead of folding your fabric, just place the ruler on, measure and you have the perfect center, without any folds or marks.

Center finding ruler in use (Source: Amazon)
Center finding ruler in use (Source: Amazon)

Where to get one

As its a non-cross stitch product, the best place to pick one of these up is Amazon, where they go for about $4. As I said earlier, I would get the floppy clear kind as it hugs the fabric better and means you can work with weird geometries if you have any.

 

Consider following us on social!

  Instagram   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   DeviantART   RSS Feed
 
 
 
   

6 Tips for Stitching with Glow-In-The-Dark-Thread

kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)

When it comes to annoying threads, metallics take the first spot. They plain suck, well, before we put together a list of how to make cross stitching with metallic threads easy that is. However there is one thread type that’s a close second, and whilst it doesn’t get as much focus, it has its own special elements that mean you can’t just pretend it’s like a metallic. We’re talking about glow-in-the-dark threads.

kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)
kreinik glow in the dark threads (source: kreinik.com)

Condition, Condition, Condition

diy bees wax (source: etsy)
diy bees wax (source: etsy)
We really can’t state this enough. Conditioning your thread, will, without a doubt, help you. Unlike cotton thread glow-in-the-dark threads aren’t anywhere near as smooth. As a result, they catch on your fabric constantly. By conditioning the thread, using something like beeswax, you can solve most of your problems in one go. If you’ve not conditioned threads before, we round up the best thread conditioners.

Use Short Lengths

This one might be fairly simple, but reducing the lengths of your threads will help on a whole bunch of issues with specialty threads of all types. We’d even suggest using 6-inch threads when it comes to glow-in-the-dark, as the threads often get messy after this point. It might be a pain to keep threading your needle, and cutting new pieces, but I promise you, this will help.

Remove The Curl

The weird glow of glow-in-the-dark threads is the selling point. But it’s also the problem. Whilst the reason behind the green glow is rather interesting, for now, we’re just going to concentrate on the actual product; zinc sulfide. This chemical, which gives it the glow, has to be unfused into plastic then added to the thread. The problem with this process is that the plastic is now brittle to sheer forces. These forces come in the form of curls.
 
When you stitch on average you add a quarter turn to your needle, slowly winding up the thread. With normal cotton, this can lead to knots, but it’s otherwise not too problematic. Glow-in-the-dark thread, however, snaps. Not the whole thing, there is still cotton in there, but the fibers infused with the glow powder snap meaning the threads look torn and messy. By making sure you let the curls fall out every few stitches, you can stop this from happening, leaving you with nice, smooth stitches.

Double Eye Needles

Double ended cross stitch needle (source: reddit)
Double ended cross stitch needle (source: reddit)
One way of avoiding curling the threads is actually to change your needle. A double-needle can help with cross stitching faster, but it also stops the threads twisting. It’s a little love or hate to use long term, but for a short bit of glow-in-the-dark stitching, it makes things a lot easier.

Use The Right Needle

However, if you don’t like a double-needle, it might help to change your needle anyway. One of the biggest problems with specialty threads is the eye of the needle putting stress on the thread. By upsizing your needle (to give a bigger eye to use), or even using a gold cross stitch needle you can avoid the stress on the thread and save yourself a lot of ripping/catching.
Another tip is to make sure you thread the needle well. Using a needle threader makes sure that threads are always placed correctly in the eye.

gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)
gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)

Use A Railroading Tool

I’m not the biggest fan of railroading, but I have to admit, sometimes a laying tool is just what you need. By using a laying tool, you can allow the thread to lay better, but you also stop it curling, stop it fraying and stop it from catching. It should be noted that while you are using the railroading technique, thanks to the way the fibers make up glow-in-the-dark threads, you won’t get as neat a finish as if you were railroading cotton threads.

Rosewood Laying Tools (Source: Pinterest)
Rosewood Laying Tools (Source: Pinterest)

 

Consider following us on social!

  Instagram   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   DeviantART   RSS Feed
 
 
 
   

How To Hand Dye Aida (And Why You Should Try It)

Various Hand Dyed Aida Pieces (Source: Etsy)

There are a lot of cross stitch fabrics out there, and there are a whole bunch of cross stitch fabric brands, however, the color selections are a little… lacking. You might want something with a bright color, you might want something a little more patterned, or just something fun, but you can’t find any.
Thankfully, you can hand dye aida, and once you do, you’ll see that its something you just have to try!

Various Hand Dyed Aida Pieces (Source: Etsy)
Various Hand Dyed Aida Pieces (Source: Etsy)

Why Should You Try Hand Dying Aida?

There are two main advantages to hand-dying aida (or any cross stitch fabric for that matter); color choice, and color variation.
 
We’ll start simple with color choice. Companies like Zweigart and DMC do a large selection of counts and colors, but they all mostly focus on pale or light colors. And whilst they do have the occasional black aida their selection of deep colors, or unusual colors is limited. Ever wanted a bright orange piece of aida? Not going to happen. Purple? Nope. Not even bright yellows, pinks or greens outside of those deep Christmas colors. So what happens if your background is meant to be grass? Well, hand dye your aida.
 
Next comes color variation, and what we mean by that is not something a solid color. Now, you can buy some basic patterned fabrics, and you can even print on aida using a home printer, but sometimes you just want it to look organic. Below we have a photo of a mermaid on hand-dyed aida, which thanks to its undulating blues and greens make a fantastic, and realistic sea. This is how to upgrade your cross stitch.

Cross Stitch Mermaid on Hand Dyed Aida by pacrislopa (Source: reddit)
Cross Stitch Mermaid on Hand Dyed Aida by pacrislopa (Source: reddit)

How To Hand Dye Aida

Enough of the talk! Let’s see about dying this stuff. We do need to say that there are a few ways to dye fabrics and its dependant on the dye you use, but most fabric dyes are very similar.
 
What you need:
White aida cloth (make sure its white!)
Fabric dye (Rit dye is a common brand in the US, and Dylon in the UK)
Hot water
Salt
Gloves
Stirring tool
Bowl (the bowl may be permanently dyed and should never be used for food)
 
There are two really important things in the guide above. Firstly, the aida should be white to start. It might seem like a cool idea to use a colored aida and then dye it for funky results, but the dye won’t bond and you’ll end up ruining your project. The second is the bowl. It needs to be big enough for you to move the water around (without spilling any dye, trust us, you don’t want that) and it should NEVER be used for food preparation as fabric dyes are often toxic, harmful to health or just generally not something you want to consume.
 
So, fill your bowl with enough hot water to cover the fabric entirely (if you want a partially dyed effect you should have only enough water to cover 50% of the fabric), and then throw in salt. The salt actually helps the cotton bond to the dye and leaves you with a stronger color, and will bleed less. How much really depends on the amount of water you’re using, but we suggest half a cup for every 8 liters of water (the size of a washing up bowl).
 
Throw your aida in the water to get it wet. Then set it on the side. This might seem like an odd step, but the dye won’t absorb unless the aida is wet.
 
Add your dye to whatever recipe the dye bottle says. Many brands, like the ones we mentioned, have mixes on their website showing you colors you can achieve, but mixing them up yourself is half the fun in my book! Make sure to mix the dyes well, and shake the bottles if you’re only using one color to ensure its mixed (fabric dyes can split over time). It might seem like you’re using a lot of dye for your small amount of water and fabric, but you do need this much.
 
Now is the fun part. Add your fabric, and stir for 10-20 minutes. Regularly check the color by taking it out, you may find that a quick dip is enough to dye it to your liking (we once dyed aida for 30 seconds and it was the perfect color we wanted).
 
Remove your fabric and wash it a lot. You need to make sure there is no color runoff, and we suggest starting with warm water, but once there is no runoff, use cold for a few seconds. Hang your fabric up to dry (you don’t have to block your fabric). Some people like to use a dryer, and this can be fine, but we find the color tends to lighten a little this way. Once dry, give it an iron, and get stitching!
 
We’ve also found this great Flosstube video guide on how to hand dye aida which is worth checking out. She also shows you how to get funky dye patterns.

Want To Buy Hand Dye Aida Instead?

Hand dying aida might not be for everyone, and we know that. Luckily, cross stitchers are a wonderful lot and you can pick up some amazing hand dyed aida from Etsy.

How To Care For Hand Dyed Aida

Whilst it is super awesome, hand-dyed aida is also something you need to be a little warier of. We strongly suggest washing your aida before you use it as sometimes dyed can bleed out a little bit. You should be fine if you don’t, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
 
Other than that just make sure if you choose to wash your cross stitch once complete, you use cold water (warm water increases the chances of bleeding).

 

Consider following us on social!

  Instagram   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   DeviantART   RSS Feed
 
 
 
   

Next Year In Cross Stitch – 2021

Skin Tone Cross Stitch Thread Table by Lord Libidan

In our now annual post about the world of cross stitch in the past and coming year, we look at last years 2020 cross stitch and see just how accurate we were, and look into 2021 and see what might be in store.
 
Its been somewhat of a crazy year, and whilst we didn’t foresee anything like a virus shutting the world down, we were oddly accurate on our guesses. However, the lockdown across the world made things happen a little faster, and have changed the cross stitch world for good.

Cross Stitch Magazines & Books

cross stitcher magazine cover may 2011 featuring Lord Libidan (source: crossstitchermag.co.uk)
cross stitcher magazine cover may 2011 featuring Lord Libidan (source: crossstitchermag.co.uk)

For the last few years we’ve mentioned cross stitch magazines and books, and every year, something has happened to prove us right. At first, we thought magazines would become more and more specialized, and with the rise of magazines like XStitch Magazine that came about. Then we foresaw issues with major cross stitch magazines and thought some would be sold off, like the Cross Stitcher was in 2019. But we still thought something was going to happen.
 
For the last few years, the marketing world has been talking about diminishing advertising return and the lack of investment. However the traditional magazine model relies on advertising, so we thought we would loose magazines this year. And we did. It started off with Cross Stitch Favourites going bust in January, however, the lockdown showed us just how fragile the cross stitch magazine arena is, with both Cross Stitch Crazy and Cross Stitch Gold shutting. We were so sure something like this was going to happen that we managed to break the news before the magazines themselves did.
 
So what does this mean for 2021? Well, not a great deal. Now that the less stable cross stitch magazines have been forced to end, the rest should be staying with us for the long run. However, the loss of nearly 30,000 readers from popular cross stitch magazines means smaller magazines have a great chance to start showing that they have. I would expect we might hear more about niche magazines, and see larger magazines trying to push the boundaries a little more.

The Rise Of The Small Store Owner

Small store owners have had a really good year. Big box stores and hobby stores have struggled in the lockdown to bring people in, but small store owners, particularly those online have been able to offer their wares out to anyone in the world. In addition, people were bored and went back to hobbies like cross stitch meaning more people than ever wanted their products. We even had to make a list of the best online cross stitch stores at the request of our Facebook followers.
We honestly expect the service that small stores give to become the gold standard in cross stitch, with people sticking with local and small stores for the future.
 
This, in turn, has given rise to new cross stitch designers. With cross stitch pattern software more accessible than ever and some great resources online, we’ve seen a big increase in new designers coming to platforms like Etsy, giving traditional cross stitch designers a run for their money.

Inclusive Patterns

Another big feature this year were the Black Lives Matter protests. At first this might seem totally unconnected to cross stitch, but patterns featuring people are mostly white. Thanks to resources like our skin tone thread colors and hair color threads, we expect to see more and more inclusive patterns, with alternative designs given as standard to include all skin tones.

Skin Tone Cross Stitch Thread Table by Lord Libidan
Skin Tone Cross Stitch Thread Table by Lord Libidan

Software

PCStitch Cross Stitch Software (source: PCStitch.com)
PCStitch Cross Stitch Software (source: PCStitch.com)

My estimates on cross stitch software were probably a little too eager. Whilst I still fully think that cross stitch generators will move to online and app forms rather than traditional downloads, I think I was a year early. I think in 2021 we’ll see some seriously good cross stitch apps come out, or at least some forward movement here.
Sadly I think this might come at the cost of some smaller software companies, and as such we’ve seen a steady reduction in them since 2018.

ThreadHeaven

Thread Magic (source: threadmagic.com)
Thread Magic (source: threadmagic.com)

We’ve spoke about ThreadHeaven every year since 2019’s post and the reason for that was its shock exit from the cross stitch world. However, that loss opened up the market, but in an interesting way. Last year we said we thought we’d see less and less people using thread conditioners, and by and large we were right. With the loss of a major brand, we’ve seen people go back to threads without conditioners. This wasn’t quite the same though, and in the last year we’ve seen suggestions that people are starting to look towards the quality of their products.
 
Our own posts about the best cross stitch needle brands and the best cross stitch fabric brands are now some of the most popular on the site. This trend suggests that people want quality products. This doesn’t necessarily mean high price either, and we pointed out that cheap embroidery threads from brands like CXC are really good quality thanks to their cotton and polyester mix. Its new inventions like this that we think we’ll see more of (although not until 2022), and big brands really trying to get us on their key selling points.
We’ve already seen DMC increase their offering to include the new 35 threads in 2016 and the Etoile threads in 2018 and we expect other brands to try and play catch up.
 
So that’s what we thought of our 2020 guesses, and our 2021 predictions. Is there something you think we’ll see next year?

 

Consider following us on social!

  Instagram   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   DeviantART   RSS Feed
 
 
 
   

Are Online Cross Stitch Courses Worth It?

How to cross stitch animated gif illustration

There are frankly, hundreds of courses online, and with many aimed at cross stitchers, both beginner and advanced, I often get asked a fairly simple question: “Are they worth it?”
The question might be simple, but the answer isn’t. In short; it depends on what type of course is being offered.
 
We tried out 95 cross stitch courses and rated them all so we can tell you if they’re worth it or not. We broke them down into 4 separate categories (with rough price guides) to help you out!

Cheap Online Videos – Less than $30

Whilst we’re calling these “cheap” videos, we want to be clear that the production value is rarely cheap. In fact, of all the online courses we were most surprised by the quality of the lowest price offering.
These online courses are usually part of online repositories like SkillShare, Coursera, or the like. They tend to be about 10 videos long and are aimed at beginners. Nothing is particularly new about these videos, in fact, you can find most of the content of these videos on youtube videos, in books, or even on blogs like our how to cross stitch guide. However, as videos go, they are by far superior in quality. Therefore, if you are learning cross stitch, these are a great resource.
 
Verdict – WORTH IT
 

Cheap Online Courses – $30 to $300

The second category for courses is actually the most common one we get asked about. They tend to be online still, but are usually run by companies claiming to be accredited. We tried 30 of these courses, from a range of providers and we can say, without a doubt, we learned nothing more than we would have on the cheaper online videos. The content here is usually slightly poorer quality than those online videos, and they’re mostly built by people that don’t cross stitch. In fact, we found them hard to follow and we can only pray for those beginner cross stitchers who take these courses.
 
The higher price point of these courses is usually given thanks to the words “Certified Course” and “Accredited Course”. These are warning signs, not selling points. Starting with the certificate, you can, in most cases get a certificate, however, this is always an optional paid extra, which ranges from $15 to $100 depending on the course. However in order to get one of these certificates, you don’t have to prove your knowledge, you just have to pay. As a result, it offers nothing. Officially you can use the hours as CPD points, however, most CPD needs to be in a relevant field, so it’s irrelevant. Finally, “accredited” means that someone said its good. That’s it. There is no ruling to say who can and can’t accredit a course and in most cases, it’s shell companies that are set up just to slap their name on a course somewhere.
Another warning sign is terminology like “Chinese cross stitch”, which has just been made up. These aren’t intermediate or advance cross stitch techniques.
 
That might all sound like doom and gloom, but there are some courses of this type out there that are fantastic. The Royal School of Needlework has a series on non-cross stitch embroidery that we love. However, we weren’t able to find one cross stitch specific course that was any good. Be wary of spending your money here.
 
Verdict – NOT WORTH IT
 

Expensive Online Courses – $300 – $1000

Thankfully, we didn’t find many of these when we searched, but there are a few out there. Very similar to the lesser-priced online courses, these courses can range in price up to $1000 or more. Unlike their cheaper counterparts, they often have coursework and exams to take. That is, sadly, where the differences end. They are total scams. They’re just like the cheaper courses in their quality, they have the same content, and they’re just as hollow as the others. They’re often sold as “foundation courses” for universities but are offered online. The big warning light here is that foundation courses are put on by universities; if it’s not a well-known university; it’s worthless.
 
Verdict – NOT WORTH IT
 

Degree Level Courses – $1000+

Finally, we come to the degree level courses. There really aren’t many of these out there, and they’re usually embroidery courses as opposed to cross stitch courses. These are genuine degree level courses, these will add letters to the end of your name. As a result, they are actually accredited, they have more than a cheap certificate, and are well worth it as you’ll be spending years on them and learning things that only a degree level graduate would know.
But please be aware of what you’re buying here. If anyone offers you this type of course online, its probably a scam; these are courses that require in-person teaching, exams, and coursework.
 
Verdict – WORTH IT

 

Consider following us on social!

  Instagram   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   DeviantART   RSS Feed
 
 
 
   

You should wash your aida BEFORE you use it

Water samples from colored aida. Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida

I’m a big believer in washing my cross stitch after I’m finished, and whilst I know there are people out there that don’t wash their cross stitch, I recently started washing my aida before I cross stitch.
 
I know this initially sounds crazy, however there is a method to my madness, and washing your aida (or any fabric) before you start your cross stitch has one major benefit.

Why you should you wash it?

I short, dyes. Unlike problems with thread dye lot issues, this is a dye problem that goes under the eyes of many of us cross stitchers. In fact, it took a decade before I actually started to think about what was happening.
 
When you wash your fabric, the dye leaks out. And I don’t just mean a bit of leakage, I mean loads. And its not just black aida that has this either. We tested all of the best cross stitch aida brands using an inch by inch square in a pint of cold water for 10 minutes.

Water samples from colored aida.
Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida
Water samples from 1 inch squared colored aida in a pint of cold water. 
Left to right; Cream Aida, Black Aida, Navy Aida, Moss Green Aida, Christmas Red Aida, Red Aida

This dye on its own might not seem that problematic considering it’s only a little bit, but our test was using a 1 inch by 1 inch square in a pint of water. If you scale this up, its like stitching a 12 by 12 inch bit of aida in a whole bath of water. I imagine there are only a few of us out there willing to use a whole bath of water to wash our cross stitch, even if you aren’t an eco cross stitcher.
 
This dye isn’t going to totally change the color of your threads, however it will take that shine off, leaving you with something with a little less pop. This can be a serious problem with cross stitches of bright colors on black aida like my recent Star Trek Enterprise LCARS cross stitch, but it’ll even have impacts on smaller projects too.

How to wash it

Now we have the “why” sorted out, the solution is simple, wash your aida. And we don’t mean you have to go fancy like how you wash your cross stitch. No, you can just chuck the whole thing in a bowl of water for half an hour. Rinse once your done (just to make sure none of the dye is left on the fabric and dry). You don’t have to iron, blot or stretch the fabric either, as the cross stitch frame or hoop will do the work for you.

Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)
Washing cross stitch (source: peacockandfig.com)
 

Consider following us on social!

  Instagram   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   DeviantART   RSS Feed
 
 
 
   

How To Mount Your Cross Stitch On Canvas

Finished cross stitch mounted to canvas on display (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

We’ve explored the blurred line between cross stitch as art or craft before, and wherever you stand on that issue, there is one thing that can elevate anyone’s cross stitch; framing.
 
We’re also no stranger to framing cross stitch either, we have a great guide on how to frame cross stitch. But this isn’t the only way to frame cross stitch, you can also mount them to canvas.

Cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

The Benefits

There are many advantages to mounting cross stitch to canvas instead of framing them normally. Firstly, you don’t have to concern yourself with framing with or without glass, which is a headache on its own. The framing can all be done at home, is super easy and cheap and the results arguably look better than standard framing.
However, there are downsides too. The two main ones are that the cross stitch is exposed to the elements, meaning you have to be careful where you store it to keep it looking its best. Therefore, before you read any further, we suggest you go and wash and iron your cross stitch. But also, and this is a big one; its a permanent framing technique. Once mounted to canvas, removal can cause serious issues with your cross stitch, and stop you from framing it in the future.

How to Mount Your Cross Stitch

OK, so you got this far, you’ve heard the negatives, but you still want in? Great, now you need a canvas.
 
There are loads of types of canvases out there, and frankly, it doesn’t really matter which one you get. Just be aware that your cross stitch needs to have enough fabric around it to cover the front, sides and an inch or two of the back. If you’re really committed to having it mounted to canvas, but can only just cover the sides, that’s OK too, but you’ll need some type of cover for the sides to make them look nice once you’re done.
 
Next up, you need to position your cross stitch on the aida. This is a super important step, as, I repeat, this is a permanent thing. If you put it in the wrong place, fixing it is a real pain. There are loads of ways to do this, from simple measuring to using fancy middle finding rulers. I’m going to gloss over this though; as you’ve got this, whatever way works for you.

Back of cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Back of cross stitch stapled to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

Then, we staple. Start by taking a stapler and stapling the top center of the work (on the back). Then pull the aida tightly up from the bottom and staple there too. You should aim to get a nice tight bit of aida, but not distorting your cross stitch. This is, by far, the hardest part of the whole thing. I keep flipping from front to back to make sure its perfectly placed before I staple it. All that effort now will help it look perfect.
 
Once you have those staples in, repeat this process for all-around your work.
Folding aida corners on cross stitch mounted to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Folding aida corners on cross stitch mounted to canvas (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

Then comes the corners. For a lot of people, the corners pose a concern, but honestly, they’re easy to deal with. The first bit of advice I’ll give you is, do not follow a guide on how to make corners on canvas. These guides are specifically for creating the canvas you’re mounting to, and require the canvas to be stretched. Your aida won’t like you if you try to stretch it like that.
However, exactly how you want to do it, is up to you. I like Hannah Hand Make’s approach to tuck as much in as you can with your nail, pull the excess around the back, and stick a staple in that sucker.
Finished cross stitch mounted to canvas on display (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)
Finished cross stitch mounted to canvas on display (Source: hannahhandmakes.com)

Once done, flip your work around, stand back and admire. You might also want to think about signing your cross stitch too.

 

Consider following us on social!

  Instagram   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   DeviantART   RSS Feed
 
 
 
   

How to Cross Stitch Without Getting A Sore Back

A few months ago we looked into how cross stitch could be bad for your health and featured a few ways to help you keep healthy while stitching. This went down well, however, there was one area people wanted to know more about; their back.
 
When sitting and stitching there tends to be two positions people naturally fall into; the ‘lean over your work’, and the ‘slouch’. Neither of which are great for your back. Now, we could just say “watch your posture”, but being frank, that’s annoying and unuseful advice. So we’ve put together the ways you can improve your cross stitch, whilst also helping you avoid back problems!

Chairs Matter

Ikea desk chair cross stitch hack (Source: Pinterest)
Ikea desk chair cross stitch hack (Source: Pinterest)

We start off with chairs, or more specifically the single chair you probably stitch on. For most, you either have something like the above chair (with or without cross stitching) or you sit on the couch. Depending on which of these you use, you can vary in issues and solutions.

Desk Chair

Desk chairs or dining chairs are naturally hard backed. This allows you to sit upright, where your back is helped to be straight, but many of us lean forward to counteract it. This has its own problems, which is why we suggest getting back support. This somewhat uncomfortable item (at the start at least) forces your back into the correct curve. Most chairs aren’t rated for long periods of sitting (in fact, most are only rated for 2 hours or less), but back support will increase the time you can sit without having issues.

Couch

For you couch sitters, be wary. A couch is comfortable as it allows you to slump, this isn’t a position your body wants to sit in, and if you add leaning over cross stitch into the mix, it only gets worse. You should consider moving to a more upright chair, such as a desk chair or dining chair, however, if you don’t want to, it might be worth investing in a lumbar pillow. These pillows sit behind you and offer your back support to stop you from slumping, easing the pressure on the spinal cord. Some people choose to just put a pillow behind them, but spending £20 on a proper lumbar pillow will save you a lot of pain here; literally.

Frames Matter

Easy Clip Cross Stitch Frame (source: amazon)
Easy Clip Cross Stitch Frame (source: amazon)

Next we talk about a tool you use all the time; frames (or hoops). We’ve spoken about the best cross stitch frames before, however personal preference is only one thing to talk about. Depending on what type, and size, of frame you use, you can drastically change the curve of your back. The larger the frame the more this is a problem (Sorry to all of those people tackling epic cross stitch projects).
Think about using an appropriate sized frame for your sitting position. This may mean using a smaller frame, or hoop, or it could mean purchasing a standing frame or sitting frame to keep you working with the right form.

Light Matters

Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)
Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)

I talk about light a lot. In fact, we’ve even spoken about using light to keep your eyesight while cross stitching, so I’ll keep this short.
Light up your area and cross stitch, so you don’t have to strain your neck to get close. You might even want to consider investing in a cross stitch magnifier if you need things a little bigger.

Double Needles Can Be Helpful

Double-ended cross stitch needle (source: Reddit)
Double-ended cross stitch needle (source: Reddit)

Something not that many people think about, but the needle you use can help.
Specifically, double needles. These needles require you to use a standing or chair frame for your work as you’ll be using both hands to stitch with, but the form you need to take to use the needle is actually a perfect back position.
Some people don’t like double needles, and we do suggest finding the best cross stitch needles for you, but a double-ended needle can also help you cross stitch faster.

Take A Break and Stretch

Finally, let’s talk about taking a break. It doesn’t have to be a long break either! Go make a brew every half an hour, or sort the washing. So long as you regularly change positions and give your back a quick rest, you’ll find you have fewer problems. It might even help to stretch out your back and arms every so often just to keep the blood flowing!
 
We hope one or more of these helps you keep stitching for a long time yet, and hopefully stops you from having back issues!

 

Consider following us on social!

  Instagram   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   DeviantART   RSS Feed
 
 
 
   

Japanese Shrine Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan

Japanese Shrine Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan

Japanese Shrine Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan
Japanese Shrine Cross Stitch By Lord Libidan

Title: Okumiya Omamori Cross Stitch
Date Completed: September 2020
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: White
Colors: 11
Pop Culture: Japan
 
In Japan, religion is everywhere. It may not have as many followers as it used to, but Shinto and Buddhist shrines dot the country at a shocking intensity. At each shrine, you can purchase small objects, known as omamori, that give good luck. In most cases, these are small fabric pouches with wooden talismans inside. However, in recent times, these omamori have become a little more interesting. From small metal keychains to wooden pencils, to modeling clay foxes, giving not only luck but specific help, with love technology and beyond. But a new trend has started, one of small enamel pins.
Japanese shrine good luck charms omamori (Source: tokyoweekender.com)
Japanese shrine good luck charms omamori (Source: tokyoweekender.com)

I’ve seen a few of these pins in peoples cross stitch kits, converted to really interesting needle minders (I really need a frogging one). However, another trend in Japan is also crazy and interesting manhole covers.
Japanese manhole covers (Source: tsunagujapan.com)
Japanese manhole covers (Source: tsunagujapan.com)

This might seem a little strange, however, Japan has always had a strong relationship with illustration. I decided to combine these two for my recent pattern in the next issue of the Xstitch Magazine.
 
Combining a view of Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, and a torii gate, I’ve created a small omamori good luck charm for “courage”.

 

Consider following us on social!

  Instagram   Twitter   Facebook   Pinterest   DeviantART   RSS Feed
 
 
 
   

5 Cross Stitch Tips It Took Us A Decade To Learn

DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)

We’ve always tried to stay away from blogs on cross stitch tips here on Lord Libidan. If you want those kinds of things, there are post all over the internet with the same basic tips repeated. But that’s the thing; they’re basic tips. What about the tips that it takes a decade to learn?
Today we’re looking into the tips and tricks we’ve seen online and in-person, hundreds of times, but ones we only actually took stock of after a decade of cross stitching.

Gridding

cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)
cross stitch grid lines in Easy Count Guideline by A satisfied spirit (source: asatisfiedspirit.com)

We start with something I actively avoided in the past. Gridding just looked like a load of effort, that I frankly, couldn’t be bothered with; I wanted to get into the cross stitching. However, miscounts happen, there is no way to avoid that. So for a while, I used cross stitch counting pins, which work, and I still use them for smaller projects, but there is nothing quite like having to frog out a whole section as you counted wrong 6 hours of stitching ago.
This is where gridding comes in. I had always thought gridding was a painful experience but with loads of different cross stitch gridding techniques its actually a breeze. It doesn’t take that long, and I can confirm that I have NEVER had to frog on projects I’ve gridded. Lifesaver.

Buy Cross Stitch Cones

DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)
DMC Thread Cones (Source: DMC.com)

Our second tip is actually about buying. Getting a great cross stitch thread deal is such a rush, and always helps us get closer to our journey to the complete DMC thread selection, but there is a better way to buy thread; DMC cones.
 
These cones are the way professionals by DMC thread, and there is a good reason; the sheer saving. Cones are either 100g or 500g weights (which is 51 and 257 skeins worth) but you can pick them up for as little as $20 a cone, which works out to 59c a skein, which is a price that none of the best online cross stitch stores can match.

The Drill Bobbin Trick


No one likes bobbin winders; no one. But with a lot of people choosing to store their cross stitch threads on bobbins, you have to know how to put cross stitch threads on a bobbin. This is where the drill technique comes in. You can actually use a sewing machine in the same way, we’re aware many cross stitchers also sew so you might have one of those too. This trick will save you hours and hours of effort and wrist ache – trust us!

Taking Care Of Your Stash

Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: pinterest)
Clear Draws for Embroidery Thread Storage (Source: pinterest)

Next up we have storage. We’re mentioned in the past (more than a few times), that its important to properly store cross stitch threads and we’re firm belivers in this. You might choose to put your threads on bobbins, in bags, put them on show or whatever, but there is no reason to not take care of them. Threads really get effected by the sun, so much that we’re suggest not buying second hand threads, and there is good evidence to suggest the DMC dye lot issues people talk about are just due to poor storage. Its that important.
 
We would also include storage of completed cross stitch, storage of aida fabric and properly storing cross stitch needles as a trick definately worth learning too.

Finding The Perfect Pair Of Scissors

Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)
Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors (source: kreinik.com)

Let me tell you; there is nothing quite like finding the perfect pair of scissors. A tool that most of us don’t really think about, but a tool that we all use, all the time, is the humble scissors. I’m sure most of us started out using a random pair of semi-blunt scissors we found around the house and maybe upgraded to a fairly cheap pair of sewing scissors along the way. But if I were to ask you “do you love your scissors?” and the answer was no, then you need a new pair.
We spend ages with our scissors, from snipping threads to (annoyingly) frogging, our scissors journey with us through project after project. So why shouldn’t they be perfect?
 
I’ve written in the past about finding the perfect pair of cross stitch scissors in the past, and since then, I’ve still managed to find better and better scissors for me, like the amazing finger snip travel scissors. However, a great pair of scissors for me isn’t a great one for you. My trusted friend MrXStitch uses a rather stylish pair of scissors that I just cannot abide; but for him, they work. You deserve to find a pair for you.
 
I would actually go one step further here too. I love my thread scissors, but I also love my aida scissors. Yes, I have multiple pairs for different things. My aida scissors are big fabric cutting scissors with a diamond coating so they never get blunt (extreme overkill, I know), but they work for aida perfectly. But they would suck for cutting threads.