How Cross Stitch Helps Real World People With Real World Problems

epic pokemon first generation perler by mininete

Today we’re going to talk about something slighlty different. For two reasons. Firstly, we talking about how craft can help people, how it can enable the worst situations in life to seem a little more acceptable. And we’re not talking cross stitch. Well, we kind of are, you see the thing that made me interested in this story originally, was Nete Hangel, and how she used my free cross stitch patterns.
If you hadn’t worked it out already, we’re doing to be talking about perler beads, which whilst a totally different craft uses patterns the same way.
 
Nete Hangel, or Mininete as she’s known online, is a pretty typical 19 year old from Denmark, with one major exception; she has complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a rare condition that can cause severe or extreme pain in arms or legs. Because of this, she can’t do much without pain being on her mind. However there is one thing; perler beads.
 

It’s been a coping method and a thing I could do even if I couldn’t think straight because of pain and pain meds

For her, the repetative action of beading has been almost “a form of meditation” and helped with “clearing your head”, which for almost every cross stitcher I know is the same. And whilst we might not stitch to burn through pain, it helps keep us grounded and a little more settled. We’re massively devoted to helping mental health, and we’ve even talked before on how cross stitch helps me destress.

Epic Pokemon perler being constructed by mininete (Nete Hangel)
Epic Pokemon perler being constructed by mininete (Nete Hangel)

The fact that Nete picked up her largest project to date, our free epic pokemon cross stitch pattern at a time of seriously bad pain, and the fact that she’s able to get up and battle the world now, just goes to show that sometimes cross stitch isn’t such a closed off world, and it helps real world people with real world problems everyday. We’re damn proud to have helped that.
epic pokemon first generation perler by mininete
Epic Pokemon Perler by mininete (Nete Hangel)

Why Are Glow-In-the-Dark Threads Green?

spiderman glow in the dark cross stitch

xstitch magazine issue 3 cover I write and I make patterns for the XStitch Magazine and found myself writing a companion piece before, such as my blog on when cross stitch almost made it to space. However in the newest issue, we talk about green. My post focused on the weird relationship we have with green, in both love and hate, thanks to ink prices, sour emotions and the green of nature. I had planned to cross stitch something within the theme using glow-in-the-dark thread, as I knew it came in green. But then I though:

Why are glow-in-the-dark threads green?

Let’s start by looking at the facts; glow in the dark thread is green. You can see a few awesome glow-in-the-dark stitches elsewhere on my website, its green. But does it have to be? No. In fact, there are loads of threads out there that are glow-in-the-dark and not green, take these Kreinik ones for example:
kreinik glow in the dark threads
There are two reasons for the green glow. Science, and physcology.
 
Science – The reason the glow comes, or the phosphorescent if you want to get fancy, is mostly down to zinc sulfide. Unlike other glowing chemicals, zinc is non-harmful to humans, and fairly stable. Zinc sulfide, is green. Now, you can add it to other chemicals to make it different colors, hence Kreinik’s threads, however the combining reduces the phosphorescent effect heavily.
 
Physcology – People expect it to be green. Originally green was used as a haunted and eery color thanks to halloween, being represented in alien blood, slime or zombies, and so when glow-in-the-dark colors came into fashion, green seemed the obvious choice. Since then, you naturally associate the color in your head when thinking of glow-in-the-dark, so when its different; you don’t like it as much. Turns out people, just like it that way.

How to use metallic threads – and make it super easy!

dmc light effect threads

Let’s face it, you’ve used metallics at some point, but you’ve not touched it in a LONG time, right? Simply put, speciality threads are hard to use.
But they don’t have to be. With a few simple changes to the way you work, metallics suddenly become super easy and a fantastic way to make your projects more interesting. We spoke to a few major players using metallic threads, including kreinik threads to see what they suggest.
 

Pick the right thread

If you’ve picked up a metallic thread from the shelf, you’ve either picked up a thick thread (like DMCs metallics) or a super thin blending thread. Neither are useful. In face DMCs metallics are so thick they can only be used on 10/12 count and not 14. Instead look to get a thin braid specifically designed for set count aida.

kreinik threads in different thicknesses
Different thread weights. Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid, Fine #8 Braid, Blending Filament combined with floss, just floss. Source: Kreinik Threads

 

Remove the curls

Metallics knot. A lot. So so much… But there is a good reason! As they’re held on the spool the metal parts stiffen into the shape, meaning when you pull it off, there are curls. We tend to want to straighten the thread with twists of the needle, which leads to more knots. BUT if you dampen a small sponge (make up sponges work well) and pull the thread you’ll find it straights right out. No more knots!
 

kreinik threads off spool with a curl
Source: Kreinik Threads

Don’t seperate the threads

This is SUPER important with other speciality threads such as glow in the dark threads, where the threads are actually made up differently, meaning you might strip the threads apart. If you’ve picked the right thread, as per above, this shouldn’t be an issue.
 

Don’t stitch 2 over 2

OK, so I know I keep going on about picking the right thread, but if you’ve picked the right thread; stick with it. That means you shouldn’t split the thread apart, and you shouldn’t combine the threads together to make a ‘double thread’. Metallics are made to be used as one thread only.
 

Make the thread ‘slide’

There are parts of the cross stitch world that simply haven’t come to terms with the closure of thread heaven. Simply put, the stuff make working with metallics a breeze in itself, however they are no more. But that doesn’t mean other alternatives don’t work. I personally wouldn’t use the likes of beewax for cotton threads as it clumps up, but metallics slide so easy its crazy. Even better news? Bees wax is super easy to get hold of.
 

Slow down (and calm down)

Finally, with one simple thing you can improve any metallic stitching session; remember metallics aren’t like cotton threads. They’re different in pretty much every way, and whilst they kinda look the same, so long as you take your time, any problems are easily fixed.

How To Sign Your Cross Stitch

i want to belive cross stitch signature by PDXstitch

You spend hundreds of hours cross stitching a project, and perhaps a few more making the pattern. You make sure the stitches look pretty, you’ve not made mistakes (or fixed them at least) and you’ve already thought about how to frame it. But there is one last thing. One thing you’re not too sure about.

To sign, or not to sign?

Its a thought that goes through every cross stitchers head, and without a doubt you’ve seen some online like it, but you’re just not convinced. So I’ve decided to wrap up some of the ways you can sign your work that doesn’t look distasteful.

Stitch it on the front

Let’s start off by addressing the elephant in the room; when we mentioned signing cross stitch you automatically assumed we meant stitching on the front of it. Now there is a good reason for this; you can see them online all the time. The simple reason for that is people copying. I have had, just like many other cross stitchers, people take my images and pretend they’ve stitched them themselves, so putting a signature is a nice nod to make sure that happens. However, if you use a watermark on online images, you don’t have a problem. As a result, feel free to add a signature to the front of your stitching, only if you WANT to.

Cross stitch signature by Whatever James
Cross stitch signature by Whatever James

There are loads of different ways of signing your work, from unique pixel blocks, like above, or an initial or two. However, they normally stick out something aweful. But they don’t need to. Take the below example, which has a small “SK 14” hidden in plain site, thanks to a clever use of almost aida matching thread.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cross stitch by Sieberella
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cross stitch by Sieberella

Write it on the front

There is another way of thinking about this though. You’re an artist. Sign your work with pride! And frankly, you want it to be visable. Heck, make it huge!
But be clever and use a fabric pen/sharpie.

shiroikoumori cross stitch with IGAs signature
shiroikoumori cross stitch with IGAs signature

Write it on the frame

But lets say you don’t way to shout from the rooftops, and your happy with using a watermark online. Then I suggest putting it on the frame. I choose to attach buisness card size stitchers to the backs of my frames detailing when I made it, the count, etc. As I’m the one that’ll end up enjoying it (or a select few family/friends) then there isn’t a great need to shout about it.
You can even do this in hundreds of ways. I found a great example on reddit:

If I am displaying the piece in a wooden hoop I sign and date the wooden hoop with a permanent metallic marker on the top next to the metal thingy.

Hide it

Before I started researching this article, I thought the above options were it. Simply no choice other than that. But my friend advised me to take the cross stitch he gave me out of the frame. And what do you know, there was his signature. Turns out this is done a lot, as not only does it have a record of who made it and when, but you can hide it behind a frame if you want. It is about time to put that excess aida to good use.

i want to belive cross stitch signature by PDXstitch
I want to belive cross stitch signature by PDXstitch

So there you have it, everyway I’ve found online and off on how to sign your work. Heard of any other ways? Drop me a line below, I’d love to know!

Why is it called RAILROADING anyway?

Railroading is a term used in cross stitch a lot. For some it means the hell of trying to do the technique, for others it means the height of perfect stitches. However whenever I’ve asked about the name, everyone gave me the same answer. Until I finally researched it myself and found out they were only half correct.
 

What is railroading?

Before we go any further though, lets establish what railroading actually is. Simply put, its the act of laying the threads flat against your work in a fashion that allows each thread to be viewed seperately. OK, that’s not that simple, but that’s the correct definition of railroading.

railroaded cross stitch example
Examples of normal cross stitch (left) and railroaded stitch (right). Source: Pinterest

As the threads are placed down, you specifically have to split the two threads apart so they lay flat against the aida like the example above. The example is done with two strands, but you can do it with one to a million if you wanted, its about making them lay correctly.
 

When and how should you use it?

Railroading can be done in a few different ways, however you can also use it slightly differently too. The point of railroading is a good coverage and a neat finish, however you hardly even see the bottom stitch. That’s why unless you’re making something for a competition I would suggest using normal stitch on the bottom, with railroading on the top stitch.
 

A quick guide on how to do it

To railroad you can either use a specific tool (laying tool), or simply change the way you stitch. I prefer altering the way I stitch slightly. When pulling the stitch taught, once you’ve ‘stabbed’ it in, push the needle into the exposed thread and run it up the length of the stitch. This should seperate your threads. When using the same hole for the next stitch make sure you keep the threads seperated. Its that simple 😀
 

Why is it called RAILROADING anyway?

And finally, we get to the meat of the problem, whats up with the name?
Well, there are a lot of rumors where the name came from, and how similar it looks to standard railroads, however its a very specific part of the railroad that gives it the confusing name.
In American in particular railroad crossings have a unique design to them making it look like each rail is actually two rails next to each other (you can see this in the image below). The stitch was created to resemble this style and for a long time was used as a speciality stitch to draw your eye, before it finally became a way of stitching.
railroad crossing

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Cross Stitch

the simpsons cross stitch

You may have been cross stitching for some time, however like all hobbies, there are always things we don’t know. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about cross stitch.

1 – A samurai once brought cross stitch to Japan without knowing it

We’re big fans of Japan here at Lord Libidan, however a recent story we went into looked at how one samurai accidently brought cross stitch to Japan, all due to a runny nose.

Hitomezashi sashiko
Hitomezashi sashiko

2 – Pattern books are super old

It might seem surprising to modern cross stitchers, but the very first cross stitch pattern books were sold as far back at the 14th century. The oldest surviving one is from 1545AD.

3 – Cross stitch is actually an emulation of Berlin wool work

What!?! I hear you cry. When cross stitches were first brought to the world, the was no set structure. However Berlin wool work, similar to needlepoint today, structured the design by using something similar to aida. The English thought this looked more attractive and stopped using linen, and started using aida to make their own Berlin wool work type designs.

4 – Cross stitch have been found on fabric dating all the way back to the 6th Century

Whilst we look at older embroidery in our history of cross stitch, the first cross stitches ever found were from the 6th Century!

5 – Cross stitch is the oldest form of embroidery and can be found all over the world

On that note, cross stitch is world wide. So much so that even without the internet, cross stitch was the oldest embroidery technique that was found around the globe.

6 – The largest cross stitch in the world is oer 9 million stitches

Think thats big? In our post about the world record breaking cross stitch we see a cross stitch project with over 97 million cross stitches.
largest cross stitch display

7 – While most folk embroidery is no longer popular, cross stitch is heavily used in Palestinian dressmaking

Traditionally, before cross stitch became samplers, it was used in traditional folk dress. However, modern Palestinian dressmaking still uses cross stitch heavily!

8 – Cross Stitch crossed social class boundaries

Don’t think that cross stitch jumped from folk to fancy samplers though. Cross stitch has been created from the poorest to richest parts of society. In world war 2 prisoners of war stitched, the 18th century it was fancy samplers, in the 80s it was mine workers. Cross stitch is for everyone.

sampler by Major Alexis Casdagli
Sampler by Major Alexis Casdagli (source: V&A website)

9 – Most modern patterns cross stitch an object, but Assisi embroidery the stitches are reversed

In traditional Assisi embroidery, cross stitches are used, but instead of stitching an object or sampler, the background is stitch instead.

10 – There are loads of celebrities that cross stitch

From Thor to M, there are loads of famous people who cross stitch!
judi dench cross stitcher

Bonus fact: Cross stitch has featured in games, TV and film!

Whilst we think cross stitch is quite a popular hobby, we don’t realise that cross stitch has been in LOADS of TV, games and films.
the simpsons cross stitch

Needles are sized based on thickness, not length https://lordlibidan.com/why-are-embroidery-needles-given-random-size-numbers/

The Best Of Cross Stitch Maps

stardewvalley map cross stitch by Bunia

I’ve always loved maps. Bit of a cartophile. However, it looks like I’m not alone, as there are a wealth of awesome cross stitch maps out there just begging for some limelight!

Stardew Valely

The reason I started looking into cross stitch maps was this. Not only is Stardew Valley an awesome game map, but Bunia has recreated the in-game map into a fantastic micro scale map with all the details of the original and more.
stardewvalley map cross stitch by Bunia
Just to take it one step further, she also offered the pattern for free!

Zelda

Jumping back a step though, sometimes video game maps are awesome on there own. In my mind however, Zelda’s Ocarina of Time map was a little sparse on details. BUT, it looked great from above. This cross stitcher thought so too and make a cracking recreation.
legend of zelda ocarina of time cross stitch map
But lest we forget the awesome Zelda map Servotron created that has been recreated by this stitcher:
Legend Of Zelda Map Cross Stitch

Mario

Whilst we’re on the topic of video game maps, lets talk about the weirdly shaped ones. Mario has always had great maps, but this third world map stitch by cross stitch ninja is frankly jaw dropping. The weird shape, the fact that is has a massive III lake, and the deserty finish make it one of my all time favorite maps.
mario cross stitch map by cross stitch ninja

Game Of Thrones

But sometimes, video games and other things combine. Like this Game of Thrones Mario mashup cross stitch map, which not only having a nice nod to both worlds, but has a shocking amount of accuracy too. Credit to MonkeeCatcher (the stitcher) and titan413 (the designer).
game of thrones mario world map cross stitch
But as one of the most watched TV shows in history, its no surprise that the original map got some love too. This design by Randomly Generated reminds me of the book map sooo much.
game of thrones map cross stitch

Pokemon

But where would a Lord Libidan post be without a bit of Pokemon?
Now, its no secret that I’ve created my own Pokemon maps in the past:
Pokemon National Map cross stitch by Lord Libidan
And loads of other people, like merichan27 and KDstitching have too:
pokemon johto map cross stitch by kdstitchinghoenn pokemon map cross stitch by merichan27
However, my out and out favorite cross stitch maps? They have to be these stellar mini maps by StrangenessIsConservative. Not only are they super cute, and based on in game sprites most people would have looked over, but they are the only images of the cross stitch world that exist in the Pokemon universe. AND the patterns are avalible for free!
pokemon region maps by strangenessisconserved

Cross Stitch in Games, TV and Film

the simpsons cross stitch

We’re not shy of showing off some awesome pop culture cross stitch on Lord Libidan before, however what about the times when pop culture shows off cross stitch? Here are some awesome examples of when TV shows, games and movies show off cross stitch!

Bioshock

The Bioshock games have a simple premis; the world was too complicated, so people went off to found a better city. In the third instalment of the game, gone were the art deco statues and famous artworks, and in came the simple world of cross stitch.
cross stitch in bioshock
What not a lot of people know however is that the game is filled with cross stitches, including in the lighthouse at the end of the game.
cross stitch in bioshock 3

The Simpsons

Marge Simpson, one of our celebrities who cross stitch, is actually an accomplished cross stitcher. In Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder Marge creates a series of samplers for Lenny.
the simpsons cross stitch

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

A more modern TV show, Brooklyn has a character that cross stitches. She’s even called a ‘stitch skipper’…

Fargo

Whilst a lot of people know Fargo as the TV shows, which used knitting in its promotional posters, had a movie forerunner. And that forerunner had it poster made from (you guessed it) cross stitch.
fargo movie poster
Know of any other times cross stitch was used in pop culture? Drop us a line!

World Record Breaking Cross Stitch

largest cross stitch display

We’re not afraid to post seriously epic stitches here on Lord Libidan, such as the highly anticipated epic pokemon cross stitch pattern, however when it comes to epic these following stitches blow the socks off any our patterns can.
 

Worlds Largest Published Cross Stitch Pattern

Less than 1 Epic Pokemon Patterns
Stitches: 628,296
Finished Size: 40″ x 80″ or 100cm x 200cm
sistine chapel ceiling cross stitch worlds largest pattern
Joanna Lopianowki-Roberts published the largest ever cross stitch pattern in 2011, which whilst being super massive as a pattern, was actually stitched. To give you some extra stats, it took over ten years to stitch with 2,872 hours put into the project. Despite that, its still only 90% of our Epic Pokemon cross stitch.
You can pick up a copy of the pattern (split into 34 different patterns for ease) over on Amazon.
 

Worlds Largest Cross Stitch By A Single Person

1.6 Epic Pokemon Patterns
Stitches: 1,111,396
Size: 871w x 1276h
Finished Size: 194cm x 134cm
However, Peter Volna from the Slovak Republic takes the title of largest cross stitch by a single person, with a replica of part of The Last Supper by da Vinvi. It also took ten years, but we also know it has over 48 kilometers of thread in it!
the last super cross stitch world largest
 

Worlds Largest Cross Stitch

More than 11 Epic Pokemon Patterns
Stitches: 7,897,840
Size: 4304w x 1835h
Finished Size: 920cm x 405cm
battle of grunwald worlds largest cross stitch
Yeh, lets get serious for a second here. The worlds largest cross stitch. It was stitched by a group of people in Poland, seperated into 50 sections, each stitched together to make one awesome stitch. Without the thread stitching the sections together, it has over 150 kilometers of embrodiery thread in it.
 

Worlds Largest Embroidery Display

More than 140 Epic Pokemon Patterns
Stitches: 96,963,750
largest cross stitch display
However, if we want to talk big, we need to look at the worlds largest embroidery display. These are seperate peices displayed together, but there are 1170 of them. Each cross stitch itself was made up of 82,000 stitches, meaning it was over 140 times larger that our epic Pokemon cross stitch pattern.
It was created by the Trichy Innovative Ladies’ United Needlework Association in India to raise money for charity, and is still growing as more and more panels are stitched.
 
If you’re still wanting to stitch an epic cross stitch of your own, how about one of our smaller epic Pokemon stitches?

The Time Cross Stitch ALMOST Made It To Space

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg's stuffed toy dinosaur floats on the International Space Station Credit NASA

xstitch magazine issue 3 cover
A few of you may know that I make patterns for the XStitch Magazine, however starting with issue 3, I also write a piece for each edition in an article entitled “Libidan’s Lectures!”. For the space themed first lecture I explored the relationship space has with art, and the various (and frankly numerus) art instalations held in space. However, during my research I kept coming back to a single question:

Has cross stitch ever flown to space?

Well, the answer was a resounding no. BUT sewing and embroidery has.
Astronauts are a superstitious bunch, peeing on bus wheels, eating peanuts and watching Russian movies aside, they have one tradition of note. During take off, especially in the Soyuz spacecraft, astronauts look directly up, with everything strapped down to avoid it floating once they reach space. However, if that’s the case, how to you know when zero gravity starts? In comes the cuddly toy!
r2d2 in space soyuz launch credit starspaceRussian cosmonaut Alexandr Samokutyae with his zero gravity toy
In order to show when you’re in space, you dangle a cuddly toy from the control panel. Now, these are genuine tools used in space, dont be confused with their cuddly exterior. Whilst they used to be plastic pens, as time progressed astronauts let their imaginations go wild and picked a whole series of things to travel with. Many include sewing and embroidery in a series of styles. I looked through hundreds (I’m not joking) of toys to see if any had cross stitch. Nope.
 
In addition to toys flown from Earth though, there is one other interesting example worth exploring.

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg's stuffed toy dinosaur floats on the International Space Station Credit NASA
Credit: NASA
In 2013, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg brought to space an idea; to craft. Using tools found around the International Space Station Karen created a small stuffed dinosaur to bring back to her son on Earth. Now, this isn’t the greatest sewing on earth, however lets just think about something for a minute. There are no needles in space. There are no scissors in space. There are no threads in space. Karen managed to make her tools while she was up there too. Now that, is impressive.