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.
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 other side it’ll knot!
Is it really that simple?
Well, sadly not. You see, DMC threads 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.
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 roundup 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 Intimate Passage Cross Stitch Sampler
This cross stitch from Elizabeth Parker is probably the most intimate 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 entrust myself.” gives you a shocking portrait 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 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.
The Nazi Defiance Cross Stitch Sampler
From one horror 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.
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?
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 Nazis 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.
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.
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, what’s more to learn?” however samplers are a very interesting part of cross stitch history. One that whilst looking rather simple actually has complicated roots.
[sam-pler, \sam-plər\] noun
1 – A piece of embroidery worked in various stitches as a specimen of skill, typically containing the alphabet and some mottoes.
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 let’s break down exactly why.
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 definitely didn’t exist, and so samplers existed as professionally curated parts stitched together into a long scroll-like reference material.
The state of samplers somewhat continued in the same vein for some time, 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.
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.
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.
So what of modern times? What now? We know samplers can be a collection of mottoes, words, icons, images, they can be 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.
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.
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!
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.
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 hole 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.
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 want to make that area slip through the material better, it improves the whole needle experience. Essentially, that’s the purpose of a gold needle. Gold is slightly smoother than nickel, so moves through the fabric better. Now, gold does come 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 the 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.
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 puncturing 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.
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 lifesaver (if an expensive one).
So why would it be perfect? You struggle to thread the needle.
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.
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.
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 does a good job. Once again though, the range is an issue. No gold needles, no petite needles, and you usually have to buy in packs of multiple sizes. Milward gets a big thumbs down from us.
Durability – 2/5
Plating – 2/5
Quality – 3/5
Range – 1/5
Price – 3/5 Total – 2/5
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
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
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 losing 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
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 twofold, 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 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 isn’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
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, they 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.
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 it’s deep down in the sea, cold, dark and unforgiving.
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.
So what exactly are the negatives I’ve refered to?
Well, whilst it’s great having a tool at your disposal, relying on a magnifier is a whole different thing. Its bright lighted area and magnification cause havoc with your eyes. And stitching with daylight lamps when it’s not daylight can cause problems with sleep cycles too.
However, the biggest issue is that magnification requires a lot of eye use, and it’s 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 armory, rather than something to rely on all the time.
If you are one of those who need 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.
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.
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 pieces 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. If it’s stretched, all the holes are bigger, letting the background show through. And the biggest thing? It’s 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. Let’s 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 traveling, it’s all about the frame itself. Personally, I would always loosen it when it’s in a frame (just to remove the tension), but when it’s in a hoop, remove it. Whilst the hoop marks are fairly easy to get out (see below) it’s not worth the extra effort, and can damage some of your stitches if you leave the hoop in long enough.
What happens if the worse has already happened?
OK, so you might be reading this after the event, so let me help you if it’s 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 it’s referred 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.
Title: Home Sweet Home Futurama Cross Stitch
Date Completed: October 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
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, the 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 the main joke itself. But then Futurama comes along.
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 it’s a cartoon and pixels mean nothing, so it’s impossible to make it perfect, but I made my own and tried to be as close as possible without ruining the overall look.
Christmas is nearly upon us, and we all know how hard it is to buy gifts for hobbies we don’t know much about. So here’s an updated holiday gift guide on what to buy the cross stitcher in your life. They’re arranged by price lowest to highest.
Christmas is mostly about fun gifts you might not buy yourself, and something many cross stitchers never buy is a fun needle keep. You can get them in thousands of different designs, and there are a lot of custom made ones out there like this 3D printed Pokemon charizard for $6 from Etsy. They’re a little bit fun, and you can combine other things together, so if their other favorite hobby is reading, get a book based one, etc. There are a lot of options here, so we also made a guide on inding the perfect needle minder that you might find helpful!
Sadly this year we lost one of the most beloved cross stitch companies, ThreadHeaven. For those who don’t know, they produced a fantastic thread moisturiser that makes cross stitching MUCH easier. A great gift this season might be the last of the stock avaliable (if you can find it) or one of these ThreadHeaven alternatives.
Cross stitch takes time, and a great place to stitch is on planes and trains, however, with security being tightened all over, ThreadCutterz has come to the rescue with a plane safe alternative to scissors.
They can only currently be brought from ThreadCutterz themselves.
There’s nothing more fancy than covering the sharp ends of your scissors with a nicely made scissor sheath. Not only that, but it has a practical benefit of keeping the scissors sharper much longer, by reducing dust build up. You can pick up a nice cover for under $5, so you might want to combine this with a nice fancy pair of embroidery scissors too.
I know a lot of people thing cross stitch is a bit simple, but in reality RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) is a real issue. The best way to solve this is a suitable cross stitch frame. The best one in my mind is a EasyClip frame ($20), but you can see a roundup of cross stitch frames on my recent post about the perfect cross stitch frame.
This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking for gifts for cross stitchers, however many stitchers either stitch when they travel, or wish they could. Finding a great, small, cross stitch kit featuring everything they need is a great gift, and probably not something they’d think of (so you get brownie points). You can either buy pre assembled kits, or make one yourself. A pair of Canary mini snips, needle minder, needle tube and a seam ripper are all you need. And you can fit them all into an Altoids tin.
A magnifier might seem like something an old person might want, but when it comes to cross stitch, a magnifier can be a massive help. In fact, we detailed why magnifiers are worth getting a few months ago; we’re big fans. You can get a whole set of different options here, from ones that light up, to ones that click onto your embroidery hoops. I would try to get one with a 2.5x zoom as this is the most useful for cross stitchers.
Scissors might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but you send a lot of time snipping things, and frankly, a poor pair of scissors get blunt quickly, fraying ends. Get a nice pair of Fiskars ‘snipping’ scissors, or ones like the image (a Japanese embroidery scissor), or another specific pair for embroidery/cross stitch or cutting fishing line and you’ll see the difference straight away.
You can even get a super awesome pair of frogging scissors, which solves the worst thing about cross stitch (frogging is incorrect stitches that need to be removed).
If you’re not sure what type of scissors to buy, check out our guide on picking the best cross stitch scissors.
Magazines are fantastic for both giving you patterns, giving you inspiration, finding out about all the new products, and reading up on all the happenings of the cross stitch community. There are frankly a shocking amount out there, so its best to pick one or two you like the most, you can find our cross stitch magazine reviews here, and getting a subscription to those. Prices vary, $20-$50 a year.
Nothing is quite like getting a gift in the post month after month, stuffed full of awesome cross stitch prizes. You can pick up a whole load of different monthly subscription boxes that make every month a gift month. Prices vary, $20-$50 a year.
CXC is a fairly new brand to the world of cross stitch, but they’re making massive moves. They produce threads, which match the DMC colors exactly, however they make them using a polyester blend, meaning they can reduce costs considerably. In fact, you can pick up their full range of 447 threads for under $40, compared to $400 for DMC threads. But don’t let the price fool you, CXC threads are just as good as more expensive brands in our tests.
This year has been big for DMC threads (the most used cross stitch threads). Not only have the new 35 DMC threads started to be used in commonly found kits and patterns, but they also launched a sweet new set of DMC etoile threads, which are super sparkly threads. You can pick up these new threads in fancy packed sets for under $40.
The natural progression for a stitcher is to go from kits, to patterns, to making their own patterns. Most choose online programs, but they all have their own limitations, so spend $20-$200 on the perfect one. I would personally suggest KG Chart or PC Stitcher for $35-50. Or you can check out our cross stitch pattern generator comparison page.
We can tell you, for sure, that day light lamps do make a difference to cross stitch. Not only do they add a massive amount of light to the area you’re working in, which can be super helpful when working with black or dark aida but they help your eyes deal with the intense focus you’re putting them through. We belive that everyone should have a well lit cross stitch area, and day light lamps, or bulbs are the best way to get that necessary light.
The only thing better than owning a thread shade card is owning the threads themselves. I always kept using the threads I had on hand, and until I got the whole set, I didn’t realize just how much I was making compromise; my colors have definitely got better. You can see how much a full set of DMC threads has helped us with our blog post about our journey to a complete set of cross stitch threads.
Not the cheapest thing in the world, wait until you can buy a whole set in one go on an offer. The price can drop from $450 to $200. Just don’t be tempted by those cheap Chinese deals to see on eBay.