When Should You Give Up A Cross Stitch Project?

mass effect cross stitch gift

I’m a big beliver in sticking with a project and seeing it through, but I, like every cross stitcher, has asked the question “should I just give up?” before. And you know what, sometimes giving up is the best thing to do. Sticking with a project you’re just not in love with can drain on you, and make you loose your inspiration for cross stitch. But when exactly is it OK to give up?

You’ve stitched it wrong

This is probably the biggest reason people want to give up a cross stitch project; however its normally unlikely to result in giving up your project. Whilst stitching something wrong can be hell, there is always something you can do about it, so you might not have to give up

You can pull it out

No one likes to frog cross stitches out, and whilst there are a few tools that make frogging easier, it can seem like its just not worth it, but sometimes it is. For my New Moon on Tokyo Tower cross stitch for the XStitch magazine, I stitched a massive section in the wrong color. There was no fixing it, so I had to make the choice between giving up, or frogging it. In the end, I pulled out over 1200 stitches and redid them. And you know what; it made the cover of the magazine. It went from being a pain in my ass to being one of my best cross stitches ever. Just cos it seems bad now, doesn’t mean it will once you’ve restitched it.

New Moon on Tokyo Tower Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
New Moon on Tokyo Tower Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

You can’t pull it out

Lets face it, we’ve all been in a position where we couldn’t pull out the threads, you kept on stitching without noticing it, and now more than 50% of the piece is a few stitches to the right. It happens, following patterns is a pain at the best of times. Now, if this is you, I’d suggest investing in a markup app for cross stitch but that doesn’t solve the here and now.
This, isn’t a rare mistake. In fact, its pretty common. So common that one of the first blog posts I wrote was on how to fix common cross stitch mistakes like this, so you can fix it! You don’t need to give up.
However, if any of the other issues below are also present, I think its time you gave that pattern up.

Its just no fun

Yeh, we’ve all been here too. “The pattern looked so good online” or “I didn’t realise how much backstitch there was”. Yeh, sometimes the stitching just doesn’t go how you want to. It might be that the pattern sucks, or you might not be into it right now. And you know what; if it isn’t fun give up. This is a simple cut and dry case.
BUT! Don’t throw it. I’ve been in this situation a few times and I’ve given up, most notably on my Portal cake reveal cross stitch, which I had placed in a box for over 6 years. But I did, eventually pick it back up, and I loved stitching it then. So don’t throw out your cross stitch; just place it in storage.

Its for someone else

I hear this a lot I’m afraid. Stitching for others can be a fantastically rewarding experiance, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. Cross stitch takes time, and I often hear of people who started stitching something, then fell out with the person who would get it; do they continue? Well I guess that is impacted by two things.
First off, is it still fun? Stitching something for someone who you no longer want to receive the gift probably means there are some negative feelings attached. Can you seperate these from the actual stitching?
And secondly, do you want to keep it? If the pattern is frankly great anyway, you might want to keep it, but if its super personal, it isn’t something you want to continue with…

mass effect cross stitch gift
Ethan Jones first cross stitch for his friend Alex, proving that guys cross stitch too.

You love to start

I guess this one goes out to a few of you, who just love to start. I follow a whole raft of flosstube channels and some of them just love to start stitching. In fact, there is one who currently has over 80 starts; and only 1 finish in the year. For some people, its all about starting; and that’s OK! Cross stitch is there to be fun, so if you can’t be bothered to finish; don’t finish! Its your hobby afterall!
 
Finally, it should be noted that these are the reasons I found on an online poll for giving up. If you want to give up earlier; go ahead! I won’t tell 😀

How to pull a skein of thread without it knotting

DMC 743 thread with labels marked

The vast majority of threads for embroidery come in skeins, or more accurately, ‘pull skeins’. However not many people know that, as a result, people often ask me how to make sure they can get the thread out, without it knotting. Now, I know Christmas is a time when a lot of people gift and receive threads, in fact, we even mentioned it in our Christmas gift guide, and so now is a great time to finally put this to bed.
The thing is, there IS a way to remove the thread without it knotting.

The clue is in the name; Pull Skeins

Every skein and thread you pick up for embroidery has two labels. These labels are there to hold each loose end of the thread down. Normally, you’ll see one thread is covered by the brand label (DMC and Anchor threads are like this) meaning one end is ‘loose’ down at the other end, by the number and barcode label.

DMC 743 thread with labels marked
DMC 743 thread with labels marked

Well, as the name ‘pull skein’ suggests, pull your thread from that side. Skeins come off the packing machine in a set order, meaning if you pull from one end, you’ll unravel the thread, which is what you want, but if you pull from the otherside it’ll knot!
DMC thread 3820 with ends of the threads marked (Source: reddit)
DMC thread 3820 with ends of the threads marked (Source: reddit)

Is it really that simple?

Well, sadly not. You see, DMC thread have the long end by their number and barcode label, but this isn’t the case for other brands. Both Anchor and Cosmo have the “perfect end” on the brand label side.
Thankfully though, CXC and Sublime stitching following DMC’s way.

The Best Cross Stitch Samplers Through History

World War 2 sampler by imprisoned POW Major Alexis Casdagli

A few weeks ago we wrote about what makes a cross stitch sampler and in it we featured some of our most loved samplers. However we didn’t speak about them. So I’ve decided to do another round up post, this time of my favorite samplers, but instead of stitching with modern samplers, I thought I’d do a journey through time, and give you some details on the best samplers history has given us.

The Oldest Surviving Sampler

How could I not include the oldest surviving sampler? This example by Jane Bostocke is the quintessential example of a sampler from the 1500s, and basically stands as the example all other samples are compared to. Mostly containing cross stitch and backstitch, it also includes beads, meaning that this was also a very very very expensive sampler for the time.

The oldest surviving sampler. Jane Bostocke, England, 1598 (source: collections.vam.ac.uk)
The oldest surviving sampler. Jane Bostocke, England, 1598 (source: collections.vam.ac.uk)

The Intimate Passage Cross Stitch Sampler

This cross stitch fomr Elizabeth Parker is probably the most imtimate work you have ever seen. Its open words of “As I cannot write I put this down simply and freely as I might speak to a person to whose intimacy and tenderness I can fully intrust myself.” gives you a shocking protrail of the mind of a 13 year old girl, who continues to write about her treatment that is “cruelty too horrible to mention” and her thoughts on suicide.
These words are so shocking to read, however the well placed, thoughtfully cross stitched letters in blood red on white linen makes the words so much more poignant. After reading of her thoughts, the sampler ends early, with “what will become of my soul” followed by a large blank space, as if the worst has happened.
Thankfully, in 1998 some closure was gained as we found out that Elizabeth grew up in moderate surroundings and died at 76. This lasting sampler acts as her diary, and possibly her only outlet.

Linen sampler embroidered with silk, by Elizabeth Parker, Ashburnham Forge, Sussex, England, about 1830. (Source: Victoria & Albert Museum)
Linen sampler embroidered with silk, by Elizabeth Parker, Ashburnham Forge, Sussex, England, about 1830. (Source: Victoria & Albert Museum)

The Nazi Definace Cross Stitch Sampler

From one horrible story to another, my next sampler of choice is Alexis Casdagli’s Nazi defiance piece. Stitched from fibers of his bedding while he was held as a prisoner of war in World War 2. Alexis clearly appealed to the Nazi’s sensibilities by stitching what appears to be a fully fledged pro-third reich sampler. The Nazi’s loved it so much they took it around other prisoner of war camps to show others, not knowing its true brilliance. Stitched into the border in morse code, are fairly anti-Nazi phrases like “God Save The King” and “F**k Hitler”.
Having seen this sampler in the flesh, the sheer audacity of Major Casdagli to stitch this amazes me, but his cross stitches are perfect, made with shockingly imperfect tools. A true marvel.

World War 2 sampler by imprisoned POW Major Alexis Casdagli
World War 2 sampler by imprisoned POW Major Alexis Casdagli (source: V and A website)

The Iconic Ikea Cross Stitch Sampler

In 2016 Ikea launched a simple idea “homemade” and it chose to use cross stitch as its poster boy. Whilst this sampler is very much unlike the others in this list, it stands as one of my most cherished samplers, as it shows something the others don’t. Machine cross stitch.
Created using a cross stitch robot the sampler marks a change in the cross stitch world, a change where technology and cross stitch are combining.
Want to know more about the iconic Ikea cross stitch?

Ikea Lida cross stitched email close up (source: Lida)
Ikea Lida cross stitched email close up (source: Lida)

The Ultra Modern Cross Stitch Sampler

Finally, I’ve chosen to pick this cross stitch, stitched by samapictures. It was actually designed for the Star Trek Cross Stitch Book I worked on, however it wasn’t picked for its ability, design, or even its history.
I picked it as it shows where we’ve come from. Throughout history we’ve seen cross stitch samplers that show honest truths, that stick it to the Nazi’s and that buck the trend of tradition. However despite that, we choose to cross stitch samplers that reflect the history, and reflect where cross stitch comes from. Even with super modern themes, like Star Trek, we choose to stitch traditional counts, on traditional fabrics on traditional styles. In cross stitch, we explore new worlds, not like Star Trek, but new worlds of art, and truly make it one of the most varied hobbies around.

Star Trek Sampler Cross Stitch by samapictures (source: samapictures.com)
Star Trek Sampler Cross Stitch by samapictures (source: samapictures.com)

 
I’d like to thank every museum out there for recording cross stitch samplers, and making sure these examples live on long after their artists have passed.

Thats NOT a cross stitch sampler!?!

The oldest surviving sampler. Jane Bostocke, England, 1598 (source: collections.vam.ac.uk)

Today, I want to talk about samplers, both in the general sense as well as cross stitch. I know your first thought might be “Its a sample, whats more to learn?” however samplers are a very interesting part of cross stitch history. One that whilst looking rather simple actually has complicated roots.
 

Sampler
[sam-pler, \sam-plər\]

noun

  1. 1 – A piece of embroidery worked in various stitches as a specimen of skill, typically containing the alphabet and some mottoes.
  2. 2 – A representative collection or example of something.

 
I figured we should start with a definition of a sampler, considering what the topic is about, however that simple definition hides something. In fact, it hides something major about samplers. That simple description suggests that anything cross stitched, unless its a reference tool, isn’t a sampler. However, that simply isn’t true. So lets break down exactly why.

15th Century

In our history of cross stitch we see how counted cross stitch was invented just before the 15th century. During this time samplers, we, exactly as you expect; samples. Books weren’t in common print, cross stitch patterns definately didn’t exist, and so samplers existed as professionally curated parts stitched together into long scroll like reference materials.

The oldest surviving sampler. Jane Bostocke, England, 1598 (source: collections.vam.ac.uk)
The oldest surviving sampler. Jane Bostocke, England, 1598 (source: collections.vam.ac.uk)

17th Century

The state of samplers somewhat continued in the same vein for sometime, before spot samplers came in during the 17th century. During this time, books were starting to be produced with patterns for purely cross stitch, however cross stitch was still firmly a hobby for europeans. In order to appeal to the English, books were put together without cross stitch alphabets, and as a result started to focus on objects.

18th Century

This trend boomed. Not only in the intended country of England, but in European countries as well. Pushed on by the import of cheap German wool, cross stitch was no longer a hobby for the super rich, and was possible for the moderately wealthy too (small steps). It meant that wool thread was no longer something to be used sparingly, allowing for greater change and in turn, more creativity. For a time, samplers became works of art. Instead of simply being a sample of something, they were an object in themselves, to be cherished. In fact, samplers were often created for funerals and morning activities. If you want to more about this point in history for cross stitch, check out our article on death and cross stitch.

Mourning Sampler (USA), ca. 1850; wool, silk and metal-wrapped silk embroidery on cotton foundation; H x W: 11 3/4 x 15 1/2 in.; Gift of Anonymous Donor from the Fraser/Martin Collection (source: rachelpiso.com)
Mourning Sampler (USA), ca. 1850; wool, silk and metal-wrapped silk embroidery on cotton foundation; H x W: 11 3/4 x 15 1/2 in.; Gift of Anonymous Donor from the Fraser/Martin Collection (source: rachelpiso.com)

19th Century

However, the 19th century is what most people think of when someone says sampler. A usually forced activity that young ladies in waiting would need to complete to show they were marriage material. However this is where the word sampler starts to get murky. Yes, there were written words in cross stitch during this time, often religious text, mottoes and icons, however their purpose was not a sample. In fact, the only cross stitch, was a sampler. A collection that depicted anything the cross stitcher wanted. It could include poems, religious passages, or just images.

Linen sampler embroidered with silk, by Elizabeth Parker, Ashburnham Forge, Sussex, England, about 1830. (Source: Victoria & Albert Museum)
Linen sampler embroidered with silk, by Elizabeth Parker, Ashburnham Forge, Sussex, England, about 1830. (Source: Victoria & Albert Museum)

Modern Times

So what of modern times? What now? We know samplers can be a collection of mottoes, words, icons, images, they can be a reference material, or a finished piece.
Well, that says it all. Cross stitch, however stitched, is always a sampler. It doesn’t matter what it contains, what parts it includes or not, its always a sampler. A piece of work for the simple reason to show off its skill in being made. This of course opens up the debate about is cross stitch art or craft, however cross stitch has always been a collection. A collection of stitches.

World War 2 sampler by imprisoned POW Major Alexis Casdagli
World War 2 sampler by imprisoned POW Major Alexis Casdagli (source: V and A website)

 
I’d like to thank the Victoria & Albert Museum for their resource on the history of samplers, which was super helpful in putting this article together, and a great read.

What’s the Best Cross Stitch Needle For You?

gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)

A few weeks ago we listed out some of the best known cross stitch needle brands and gave them reviews based on a lot of factors. However, despite allowing us to work out who the best cross stitch needles were made by, we got a few people asking about different types of needles. In that post, we only focused on your standard needles, and we made comment on their range, but didn’t go into why you would want a specific type of needle.
Well, in the same way we helped to find the best cross stitch scissors for you we’re doing the same with needles!

Normal Needles

The standard cross stitch needle for anyone who picks up a cross stitch kit, and for everyone that follows standard cross stitch needle size for aida count tables. The normal needle works well. It’s been perfected for literally hundreds of years (in fact, we covered this in our history of the cross stitch needle). However, it doesn’t mean its the perfect needle for you.
Yes, it works fine, its easy to pick up in a variety of materials, and you can pick them up for pennies if you’re looking to save money in cross stitch. In reality, needles like this tend to wear heavily, which was why we wrote about getting rid of your old needles.
 
So why would it be perfect? Well, simply put, you either want an easy needle that you don’t have to think too hard about, or you prefer a longer needle.

cross stitch needle (source: cross-stitching.com)
Cross stitch needles; rounded and sharp (source: cross-stitching.com)

Petite/Small Needles

Of course, petite needles are basically the same as a normal needle, but they’re smaller. This isn’t much of a bonus if you want a longer needle, however petite needles allow you to move through the aida fabric with much more ease. In reality, a size 24 needle (standard for 14 count aida) is slightly larger than the whole it goes into. With a petite needle, you can drop it through the whole with ease.
However petite needles give you a lot more variety with stitching too. I prefer to use a smaller needle, rather than a petite. I use a size 26 for 14 count fabric. It has the same impact as using a petite, but is much easier to get hold of, and usually cheaper.
 
So why would it be perfect? You want a smoother stitching experience.

Gold Needle

The next set of needles to look out for are gold needles. Now, most people expect that to mean a whole needle in gold, and sometimes that is the case, but you can also get gold eyes. The reason some only have gold eyes is to put the price down. The widest part of the needle is the eye, so if you wan make that area slip through the material better, it improves the whole needle experience. Essentually, that’s the purpose of a gold needle. Gold is slightly smoother than nickel, so moves through the fabric better. Now, gold does comes off. In fact, the reason to stop using gold needles is the plating has come off, and that means gold needles rarely have a long life span, however they do move smoothly through fabric, and so can be a good idea if you can’t find a petite.
 
So why would it be perfect? You want a smoother stitching experience, but like a larger needle.

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

Easy Guide Needles

Next up, we have a little needle that not that many people know about. Instead of a rounded tip of a normal cross stitch or tapestry needle, easy guide needles have a small ball. This allows you to get a lot better control over your tip, but still allows you to traverse the fabric without punchering it. For many, control isn’t much of an issue, however those with a slight shake can find a massive benefit in using easy guide needles.
They do have a small downside though; they are very hard to get hold of, and don’t come in many sizes. We pick ours up from Etsy.com however even then they can be hard to find.
 
So why would it be perfect? You want greater control.

Easy guide cross stitch needles (Source: Etsy.com)
Easy guide cross stitch needles (Source: Etsy.com)

Self Threading Needles

For many, the worst part of cross stitch, is trying to get the dang needle threaded. I know many people who use needle threaders however the same issue always comes up; they break. They break ALL the time. There are needle threaders that don’t break, but for many, a needle threader is something else to loose in their cross stitch kit. So instead, there are self threading needles.
Now, there are loads of different self threading needle types, and due to this, they can cause you issues in your cross stitch experience. For many self threading needles aren’t worth it, but for those that struggle with threading the needle, they can be a life saver (if an expensive one).
 
So why would it be perfect? You struggle to thread the needle.

Spiral Self Threading Needles Close Up (source: Etsy)
Spiral Self Threading Needles Close Up (source: Etsy)

Double Needles

Finally, we have the double needle. Many don’t even know it exists, and when they see one, they often think its a crazy needle for a machine or something. Now, you do have to change the way to cross stitch with a double needle, but it allows you to cross stitch faster.
They are fairly hard to come by, and they don’t come in gold. They break often, and they’re weird to use. But they increase your speed by an insane amount. If you value speed; these are the needles for you.
 
So why would it be perfect? You want to speed up your cross stitching.

Double ended cross stitch needle (source: reddit)
Double ended cross stitch needle (source: reddit)

Who Makes The Best Cross Stitch Needles?

gold cross stitch needles (source: ebay)

We love cross stitch needles here at Lord Libidan. In the past we’ve covered the suprising history of the cross stitch needle and how cross stitch needles are made in length, but a recent post about time to ditch your cross stitch needle led us into interesting territory; some cross stitch needles last longer than others. And that got us thinking, whats the best cross stitch needle manufacturer out there?
 
Thankfully, over the last 6 months, we’ve tested over 130 needles from the 6 biggest brands to rate needles. We chose to include durability, plating, quality, range and price as factors, but chose not to include availability (although we do make comment on this in the reviews). We chose to ignore stuff like self threading needles, so we’re looking at purely common cross stitch needles.
 

DMC Needles

Most of the time, when we hear of issues with needles, it turns out to be a DMC needle. This is probably due to many picking them up in kits, however our testers rated DMC needles the worst in durability and how fast the plating comes off across all the brands we’ve tested, normally with the eye breaking. However, DMC needles do have something going for them. Firstly, they are easy to pick up, they come in a massive (but not exhaustive) range, and they are really cheap. As a way of testing out needles like petites and gold plated, they are a great place to start, but I wouldn’t use them as a standard needle.
 

Durability – 2/5
Plating – 2/5
Quality – 2/5
Range – 4/5
Price – 5/5
Total – 3/5

 

John James Needles

For most, John James needles seem to be the standard in the cross stitch world. And this is due to the fact that they’re a great all round needle. Yes, they do break, but they last a good amount of time, and with a strong eye, the main issue is loosing its plating. Yes, the plating does come off, in gold needles particularly fast, however you can easily use a single needle for 2 or 3 projects before needing to replace it. They do have a whole range, including golds and petites, however finding anything other than the standard count needles can be very hard, and the price jumps as a result.

Durability – 3/5
Plating – 4/5
Quality – 3/5
Range – 4/5
Price – 4/5
Total – 3.5/5

 

Hemline Needles

Hemline produces some OK needles. They last a long time, the plating tends to stay on for a long period of time, they don’t go blunt often either. However, there are two big issues with Hemline. The first is the range; they have standards, but no petites, and if you want gold plated, the price jumps a very long way, making them some of the most expensive needles on the list. This makes them a little too much effort for their price, and we’d suggest others on the list that can be quite cost effective.

Durability – 3/5
Plating – 3/5
Quality – 3/5
Range – 1/5
Price – 2/5
Total – 2.5/5

 

Milward Needles

A lot of people know of Milward needles thanks to sewing, and honestly, they make great sharps, however their tapestry needles seem to suffer from a few manufacturing issues. They tend to have a weak eye (at least in our tests) and the plating doesn’t last as long as the likes of John James needles. However, the price and overall quality of the needles are OK. For a single project needle, Milward do a good job. Once again though, range is an issue. No gold needles, no petite needles, and you usually have to buy in packs of multiple sizes. Milward get a big thumbs down from us.

Durability – 2/5
Plating – 2/5
Quality – 3/5
Range – 1/5
Price – 3/5
Total – 2/5

 

Clover Needles

Our tests with Clover needles came back very positive. They had a fantastic life span, they kept their plating longer than any other needle on the test (including gold needles, which is shocking), and the range is rather large. The issues we had were two fold, firstly, finding these needles (outside of Japan) can be hard, meaning you often have to get packs with other needles you don’t need/want, and price. They are very expensive needles. This might just be down to the import costs, however our testers all over the world reported high costs.

Durability – 5/5
Plating – 5/5
Quality – 4/5
Range – 3/5
Price – 2/5
Total – 4/5

 

Bohin Needles

Bohin needles rock. They’re very well made, the plating doesn’t come off for anything, and they just don’t break. They also have a good price point considering how well they’re made. However, Bohin needles are a problem in two ways. Firstly, getting your hands on them, anywhere in the world, is always tough. For some reason Bohin aren’t in many retailers, even online, making picking up a pack hard. This usually comes with a large postage cost from a different continent and so the price rockets up quickly. The second issue is the range. Whilst they have a full set of sizes, they only have one size of petites, and no gold plated needles. But they do have a double eye needle, and a self threading needle too.
 

Durability – 5/5
Plating – 5/5
Quality – 5/5
Range – 3/5
Price – 3/5
Total – 4/5

 

Tulip Needles

Let me start by saying just how much I love Tulip needles. They were so nice to use it was shocking, they never seem to break, tey keep their point well, and whilst the gold does come off, it isn’t quick. The range is full, with packs of a variety and single sizes. Not only that, but getting hold of them wasn’t that hard either. But let’s talk about the big issue here; cost. Tulip needles are VERY expensive, and whilst you do get a quality needle for the price, we’re just not sure we can devote that kind of price to a needle. There are perks that make up for this, like little glass vials they come in, but once you have a few of these you want to change to plastic ones, and packs without the vial are just as expensive.

Durability – 5/5
Plating – 4/5
Quality – 5/5
Range – 5/5
Price – 1/5
Total – 4/5

 
There you have it, our round up of the best known cross stitch needle brands out there. Hopefully this test will help you pick out your next needle supplier, however we should say that storing your cross stitch needles well and using a needle minder will increase the lifespan of your needles.
 
So, what’s our choice? Whilst they are expensive, Tuplip needles were the nicest to use, and if you can afford them, go nuts, however the cheaper and just as good needles from Clover Needles are the best for us.

Tulip Sashiko Needles come in a glass vial (source: sewandquilt.co.uk)
Tulip Sashiko Needles come in a glass vial (source: sewandquilt.co.uk)

Squid Cross Stitch Pattern Spotlight

Giant Squid vs Great White Shark Cross Stitch Pattern by Richearts (Source: Etsy)

A few weeks back we talked about a killer tea cross stitch pattern that was featured on our how to make sure you buy a quality cross stitch pattern post. Today we show off the other pattern featured; squid.

Giant Squid vs Great White Shark Cross Stitch Pattern by Richearts

Giant Squid vs Great White Shark Cross Stitch Pattern by Richearts (Source: Etsy)
Giant Squid vs Great White Shark Cross Stitch Pattern by Richearts (Source: Etsy)

Giant squid might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re looking for cross stitch patterns online, and a giant squid fighting a shark even less, however as soon as we saw this pattern, we were interested. The topic might be a little weird, but by moving the bodies slightly there is a real feeling of movement in the pattern, giving you a real idea that its a struggle between these two beasts.
The way the designer has lowered the color count to very deep colors, with glimmering around the two gives a real feeling its deep down in the sea, cold, dark and unforgiving.
 
This pattern was found on Etsy.

Are magnifiers worth it for cross stitch?

I recently won the best miniature cross stitch in the National Needlecraft Awards this year with my miniature traditional pirate samplers and as a result I won a fancy magnifying light. This was the first one I ever got, and whilst it gave me loads of ideas for miniature cross stitch, I didn’t realise the problems it would have.

mini pirate cross stitch samplers by Lord Libidan (source: xstitchmag.com)
mini pirate cross stitch samplers by Lord Libidan (source: xstitchmag.com)

The Positives

I initially planned on using my magnifier on a few small count projects, think 32 count, however before I got to that point I ended up pulling it out to check something on my cross stitch project using 14 count. I would normally have squinted or pulled it close to my face, but for the first time ever, I could just use a magnifier to see it with ease!
Not only that, but cross stitching on black aida has been made considerably easier with the massive light source the magnifier has brought me. I actually use my magnifier a lot, far more than I thought I would, and whilst the super magnification area gets a lot less use, it being there means I have something to use a back up if I still can’t get that dang stitch to lie properly.

Clip-on magnifier by 123stitch
Clip-on magnifier by 123stitch

The Negatives

So what exactly are the negatives I’ve refered to?
Well, whilst its great having a tool at your disposal, relying on a magnifier is a whole different thing. Its bright lighted area and magnification causes havoc with your eyes. And stitching with daylight lamps when its not daylight can cause problems with sleep cycles too.
However the biggest issue is that magnification requires a lot of eye use, and its very common for people to get involved in what they’re doing and not taking regular breaks. For those with good eyesight, this can have long term effects on your eye health, and for those who already have eye issues, it can make is substantially worse. That doesn’t mean you have to give up cross stitch if you rely on one though; magnifiers are great to use non-regularly, so consider stitching less, lighting your stitching area better, or reducing the count of your fabric so its easier on the eyes.

Is it worth it?

All in all, I think magnifiers are a fantastic tool for a cross stitcher, even those without issues seeing things in detail (why strain your eyes when you don’t have to) however they should be used as a tool in your amoury, rather than something to rely on all the time.
If you are one of those who needs it regularly, try reducing your aida count, or using a smaller magnification, taking regular breaks and lighting up your stitching area as much as possible with natural light.

Do You Actually Need To Remove Your Cross Stitch From The Hoop?

Hoop Marks in Cross Stitch (Source: Handmade by Hannah)

Everyone knows that you shouldn’t keep your cross stitch in a hoop… but it that actually true?
 
Over the last 6 months I’ve been testing out different cross stitch frames ad leaving aida in them for seriously long periods of time. Just to see, what happens. And the answer, is actually a little complicated.

Does it leave marks?

When I asked around, the main reason people gave for not wanting to keep cross stitch in the frame/hoop was leaving marks. But does it?
Yes. But also no. Hoops, bar frames, ‘Grip n Clip’ all leave marks. Now, frames and Q snaps don’t, but they can curl the fabric. This really isn’t much of an issue if you wash it, but there are many out there that don’t wash your cross stitch.
But hoops do leave marks. Our tests showed that even loose tension hoops could put marks in aida left for a week. Just one week. Now, they can be dealt with, fairly easy, but the longer you leave the hoop in, the harder it is to get out. We’ve tried, and we still can’t get some hoop marks out.
If you’re looking for more info, I’ve rounded up the results in my post about which cross stitch frame is best.

Hoop Marks in Cross Stitch (Source: Handmade by Hannah)
Hoop Marks in Cross Stitch (Source: Handmade by Hannah)

Does it cause other problems?

So what about other problems? Well, here is where the story gets interesting. Leaving your cross stitch in the frame or hoop, DOES cause other issues. Some of these can be easy to deal with, others, not so much.
 
Stretching – Frames and hoops stretch your fabric. That’s their point after all. But consistent and long term stretching will permanently keep the stretch. This might change a 14 count into a 12 count (one of our test peices was stretched this much), and whilst that doesn’t seem too bad initially it can have implications. If you’re looking to frame it, it might not fit. It its stretched, all the holes are bigger, letting the background show through. And the biggest thing? Its rarely uniform. There’s nothing worse than having a miss shapen part of your cross stitch that took hours and hours to complete…
 
Crushing Stitches – In my opinion, this is the biggest issue with leaving cross stitch in a frame, as its unfixable. Lets say you’ve stitched a section and you move your hoop and some of your stitches are under the hoop. Those stitches are being crushed. Even for short periods of time this can be an issue, which is why I use a frame, which is slightly better, but still has the problem. As you crush those stitches, the tension goes, the top stitch can wonder, and you can even pull the threads out if you’re not careful.
Crushed stitches are really obvious in a finished cross stitch, and whilst washing can give them a little rejuvenation, it can’t fix the worse cases.
 
Dirt – This is actually a fairly big issue. I know you’re thinking you can just wash your cross stitch, but when its in a frame or hoop the aida is pulled apart slightly. If dirt gets into these stretched parts, it gets stuck and you can’t wash it out as easy. A good solution here is a grime guard, but if you’re traveling, always remove it from the frame.

So do you need to remove it from the frame?

Well, it depends.
If you’re traveling, regardless of the frame or hoop you use, REMOVE IT. You’re just asking for trouble, even with a grime guard. But for anyone not travelling, its all about the frame itself. Personally, I would always loosen it when its in a frame (just to remove the tension), but when its in a hoop, remove it. Whilst the hoop marks are fairly easy to get out (see below) its not worth the extra effort, and can damage some of your stitches if you leave the hoop in long enough.

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

What happens if the worse has already happened?

OK, so you might be reading this after the event, so let me help you if its too late.
 
Marks/Stretching – If you’ve been left with marks or stretching, wash, dry and iron your cross stitch. It’s important that you follow the drying stage of this guide if you’ve got stretching or hoop marks as the ‘blocking’ as its refered to allows the aida to move back into shape. If you’ve still got marks after one wash, wash it again (before ironing). It can take quite a few cycles to get those annoying hoop marks out.
 
Dirt – Generally, washing will probably help you here too, but if you’re really struggling to get some of that ingrained dirt out, you can try a few cross stitch stain removal techniques to help you get it out.

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

Home Sweet Home Futurama Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Futurama Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Futurama Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Futurama Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Home Sweet Home Futurama Cross Stitch
Date Completed: October 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: White
Colours: 3
Pop Culture: Futurama
 
Before I started cross stitching back in 2001, I knew of cross stitch. This was before the big cross stitch revolution in England, and I didn’t have anyone I knew cross stitching, or even crafting. So how did I know about it? Futurama. Yes, the sci-fi cartoon.
 
But I want to go slightly further back to tell this story. Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons and Futurama, has regularly made nods to needlework in the past. In fact, Marge Simpson cross stitches, which we covered in our Celebrities That Cross Stitch post, but it was always something that someone was doing. It was never a main joke itself. But then Futurama comes along.
Futurama Screenshot S01E03 of Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch (Source: Reddit)
Futurama Screenshot S01E03 of Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch (Source: Reddit)

As you can see from the above screenshot, Futurama made a simple joke using the ‘home sweet home’ cross stitch in its first season when Fry and Bender get an apartment. But teenage me, who fell head over heels for Futurama didn’t quite get it. Clearly, it was a joke. Clearly, you were meant to understand. But I didn’t. Until a lot of lewd jokes that might go over your head, this was a joke that was clear as day, begging you to laugh.
 
Well, I looked it up. I saw the cross stitch, but I still didn’t understand. I ended up learning to code from that Futurama code, and now I get the joke, and in fact, I can see the error in the programming now too, but it was the first time I saw cross stitch, and understood it was a thing.
 
I’ve taken on the joke, and I’ve even stitched a Pokemon Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch in the past, like many cross stitchers and made a free pattern of it too, however not the version that first showed me cross stitch. Some 20 years later, when rewatching Futurama I knew I had to stitch this up.
 
Sadly, despite the many patterns out there for this, none were perfect. This is mostly due to the fact that its a cartoon and pixels mean nothing, so its impossible to make it perfect, but I made my own and tried to be as close as possible without ruining the overall look.