Why are embroidery needles given random size numbers?

gold cross stitch needles

Have you ever wondered why a tapestry needle size goes up as the sizes goes down? And have you ever wondered why a size 24 needle is the same size as a size 8 sharp needle and a size 3 quilting needle?
Probably not. But following our video on how cross stitch needles are made, and our history of the cross stitch needle; I have. So I looked it up, and trust me when I say this; its not easy to find the answer.

gold cross stitch needles

How are needles sized generally?

Simply put, until the 1940s they weren’t sized at all. Each brand of needle provider came out with their own size guides, some based on width others based on length. Somehow people struggled through without much problem, until sewing machines were invented. Each sewing machine manufacturer standardised their sizing, however they all standardized differently. Each stating that theirs was the best way of sizing needles. Suddenly, issues were arising as manufacturers were suggesting a needle size that wasn’t uniform and people hated it.
Soon a group of needle makers came together and made their own system, which was so popular other manufacturers quickly had to adapt to their system.
machine sewing needle labeled
The system they picked was based on the way the machine sewing needle was constructed. Unlike a tapestry needle the machine sewing needle has a hole right by the tip. This means that the end of the needle is the largest point. The width of this needle in hundredths of a millimeter was now known as the size, in NM or Number Metric. So a NM 130 needle has a width of 1.3 milimeters.

That’s great, but we use tapestry needles.

However, hand needles have a very different structure to a machine needle and so this system couldn’t be copied. Here in lies the issue. All those needle manufacturers that missed out on the machine needle sizing came up with their own systems for hand needles. They went around and asked other manufacturers to use their needle size system for a specific type of needle in exchange to use anothers system for a different type of needle.
The method most chose (we’ll talk about excepctions in a minute) was wire guage thickness. In this system the higher the number, the more the wire is pulled. However, much in the same way the needles had issues with sizes, so did wire (and it still does) which is why no needle size matches another.

The exception to the rule

I said above that there were exceptions to the rule of higher the number, smaller the needle. In an interesting turn of events, knitting needles struggled on the sidelines whilst the needle size war was going on, and no one ever settled on a size. As a result in the UK the larger the number the smaller the needle, but in the US the larger the needle. Most now use milimeter thickness, however Japan uses a system of increasing numbers meaning larger needles, before then changing to milimeters at 7mm wide. This means they have both an 8mm needle, and a size 8, which is only 4.5mm thick.

Cross Stitch Software for Mac

As more and more people move to Apple, more and more people are on the lookout for cross stitch software on a Mac. However, there simply isn’t much choice out there.
 
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some great choices out there.
 

MacStitch – 9/10

($52 ($47 with discount))
We start with the behomoth of cross stitch software, on Mac or Windows. MacStitch is simply the Mac version of the ever popular WinStitch, a full service cross stitch software that not only competes (but ranks better in our tests) than the likes of PCStitch.
It has over 30 different brand of threads, including select options, such as DMC grey scale, has an inbuilt print to pdf (unlike some, PCStitch), and runs without strong demands on RAM. As a result, its the first place to look for a Mac software option.
macstitch screenshot
But it does come with some drawbacks. The first, is of course the price. Whilst the initial outlay of $52 ($47 with discount) seems steep, its comparable to the price of any Windows options, and is BY FAR the cheapest Mac software option.
Secondly, thanks to its full service option, it comes with a learning curve. However, the same can be said with any software, regardless of platform, and as confidence grows, the extra options will become invaluable.
As a final point, if the time comes you wish to move away from Mac, all your saved patterns and files are compatable with the Windows version of the software, and whilst you’ll have to buy that copy, it saves you a serious headache if that time comes.
 

StitchFiddle – 9/10

(FREE)
I hear what you’re saying, do you NEED to pay? Well, if you want a full suite of options you need a paid bit of software. However, if you want, there is a free option. But instead of software, its online.
StitchFiddle has long been our favorite online pattern maker, and or good reason. Its simple to use, has fantastic image creation software (see below) and most importantly, is free.
stitchfiddle screenshot
Nothing in life is truly free though, as StitchFiddle is very limited in what it can do. It only has DMC or Anchor treads, it has very simple size selection (but does go up to 2000×2000), and even more simple image editing ability. However, for a quick image conversion, its the bees knees, offering a great print to pdf option.
 

DP Software Cross Stitch Pro Platinum – 5/10

($191)
Here’s where we start getting into some pricier options. For a long time Jane Greenoff pattern making software was the only one around, and over time she got quite a following. However, the first of our pricy Mac options, and the very first Mac software, has been lifted directly from the old Jane Greenoff software, which means its complicated, has a limited selection of threads, and limited in many of its features.
Its a higher cost that the likes of MacStitch, and has considerably less features. Its only real positive is its ability to work with very old Macs (MacStitch works with XP onwards).
 

Stitch Painter – 5/10

($199/FREE)
Stitch Painter is a fairly complicated program, with a similarly limited set of features that DP Software Cross Stitch Pro has. However, it does have a free demo, which despite various prompts, doesn’t seem to run out.
 

StitchCraft – 5/10

($155)
Our final pattern creator for Mac is StitchCraft, and whilst it isn’t pretty at all, it does get the job done. Considering its cost, there is simply no reason to go with something this hard to use.

Embroidery thread or floss?

6 stands of embroidery thread

I’ve been part of many conversations about cross stitch in events and in almost every conversation something simple is said that raises a question; is it embroidery floss or thread?
This appears to be the biggest misunderstanding in cross stitch, so we’re going to look into which, and why.

The Answer

You cross stitch with two strands of embroidery thread; these strands are called embroidery floss. The skein is also called embroidery floss.

Floss or Thread?

We’ll start by talking about yarn. Yarn is fibers spun together to make a tight bound material. The way that you construct this spin is the route of the issue. Yarn can be spun two ways, S and Z.

Yarn_twist_S-Left_Z-Right
S- and Z-twist yarn (wikipedia.com)

The Z twist is used in sewing machines as the twist causes less fraying and unravelling. However S twist is used for threads specifically meant to come apart. This is where we get down to the brass tacks of the issue.
Embroidery floss (yes, floss) is made up of 6 stands of embroidery thread. The 6 strands are spun with a z twist. These are then combined using a S twist, made to come apart. As a result, when you stitch you take out 2 stands of THREAD from the embroidery FLOSS.
6 stands of embroidery thread
6 stands of a standard embroidery thread (source: DMC)

You’ll notice if you look closely though that DMC strands (and Anchor) are also spun together in a Z twist. So does that mean those are still threads? No. They’re still designed to come apart, so are classed as embroidery floss.

So what should I say?

Either!
Circling back to my first sentence, in every event I’ve attended someone always says “actually its embroidery floss”. Turns out that its interchangeable as you stitch with embroidery floss and thread.

Embroidery floss or stranded cotton is a loosely twisted, slightly glossy 6-strand thread, usually of cotton but also manufactured in silk, linen, and rayon. Cotton floss is the standard thread for cross-stitch.

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

This week we have an amazing blog piece by Rachel Piso, who has dug deep into the history of samplers in the past, but now looks into something not that many people are willing to talk about; mourning samplers.

  Left: Silk on linen mourning needlework, ca. 1819, wrought by Hannah Farless, 15'' x 16 1/2''. Provenance: Rentschler collection Right: Mourning Sampler (England), ca. 1810; silk embroidery on silk foundation; H x W: 41 x 16 1/8 x 15 9/16 in.); Gift of Anonymous Donor from the Fraser/Martin Collection
Left: Silk on linen mourning needlework, ca. 1819, wrought by Hannah Farless, 15” x 16 1/2”. Provenance: Rentschler collection Right: Mourning Sampler (England), ca. 1810; silk embroidery on silk foundation; H x W: 41 x 16 1/8 x 15 9/16 in.); Gift of Anonymous Donor from the Fraser/Martin Collection

In my last post about historical cross stitch, in which I listed the reasons I’m so in love with samplers, I talked about the aspects of the stitchers’ lives that were recorded in fabric—namely their education, status, families, and interests. Going deeper, I’ve been reading about how all of those qualities represented their feelings, roles, and experiences surrounding death.
 
I’ve admired mourning samplers for as long as I’ve been studying antique needlework, although I never really got far beyond their beauty and technique. Most of them held similar imagery: a grieving woman draped over a tomb surrounded by willow trees. After reading further, I realized how this visual was representative of women and their roles at the time, especially relating to pain and misery.

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
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

In the 18th century, death had been moved from homes to hospitals, and therefore made more private and personal. It became “fashionable” to mourn. This led right into the Victorian era, when an entire etiquette formed around mourning (e.g. the heavy black dresses, veils, armbands, etc.).
 
It was accepted that men were stoic and self-controlled, while women were sentimental and over-emotional. Melancholy was a distinctly feminine trait, even considered an illness (see also: female hysteria, but that’s a whole other subject I’m also fascinated with). You can see these gender roles represented in the samplers.

Mourning Sampler (USA), 1803; silk embroidery, paint and ink on silk foundation; H x W: 18 1/2 x 21 in.
Mourning Sampler (USA), 1803; silk embroidery, paint and ink on silk foundation; H x W: 18 1/2 x 21 in.

With the culture shift to intense displays of grief, and since needlework was already an established component of girls’ education, mourning samplers became popular.
 
While it seems that these pieces were completed with the idea of working through loss, the fancier samplers (called “fancywork,” appropriately) were assigned as school projects and as a way of demonstrating skill, especially for the upper-class. And not only were they used as teaching tools for advanced cross stitch and embroidery, they instilled society’s expectations of a proper girl: to keep busy, be patient, and have good taste and morals. They were proudly displayed in homes as an example of the accomplishment and character of the girl who created them. All in all, they were evidence of the abilities that would make her a desirable wife.
 
Of course, they were also works of art used to remember a loved one in a time before photography. Some even included “hairwork”—stitches made with the hair of the person who had died. Side note: I’ve tried this with my own hair. Not easy.

Mourning Sampler (USA), 1839; Embroidered by Emily Silcox (American); wool embroidery on cotton foundation; H x W: 8 1/4 x 11in.
Mourning Sampler (USA), 1839; Embroidered by Emily Silcox (American); wool embroidery on cotton foundation; H x W: 8 1/4 x 11in.

There is so much to learn and examine with mourning samplers that I could write about them for weeks, but as usual, I was overly-excited about some antiques I found and needed to talk about them. This is a very bare-bones info on the subject, but I hope to touch on them more in the future.
 
Note: If you’re interested in learning more, many books centered around cross stitch history touch on them. I also recommend Women and the Material Culture of Death (edited by Maureen Daly Goggin and Beth Fowkes Tobin) which examines the things women create/wear/keep in connection with death and mourning.
 
Originally posted on Rachel Piso’s blog. Check out her instagram for more.

Why you should care about copyright

copyright defintion

Copyright is such a contentious issue, and it can really get people fired up. Designers and those who are in the needlework industry get accused of being “copyright police” when they point out that designs have been stolen, or take legal action to get illegal copies of their designs removed. Stitchers who benefit from the free/illegally sold charts (some of which are unaware they’re illegal) don’t see the problem as they figure it’s a digital copy so it’s not like you’re walking into a shop and stealing a physical object. This brief article goes into the issues behind copyright infringement, and why stitchers should care. As a disclaimer, I am not a lawyer but I have done a lot of research, and each country’s laws are slightly different.

copyright defintion
Shared under Creative Commons License!

Free cross stitch patterns

Many designers use free patterns as a way to give back to their supporters, and to encourage people to check out their paid designs. Some designers only do freebies in their designer’s communities (like a Facebook group), some do freebies on their own website, and others will freely share them on sites like Pinterest. It can be hard for stitchers to know whether the pattern is being shared legally, or whether it’s a stolen copy (either a scan from a magazine or book, or an upload of a designer’s paid pattern). A good rule of thumb is that if the pattern isn’t coming directly from the designer (from their Facebook page or group, or is linked to their website or blog), there’s a high probability it’s an illegal copy. Many sites that host “free” patterns are actually set up as a honey trap (a cyber trap) – each pattern file has been embedded with malware or spyware that gets transferred to your computer when you click on it or download it. I used to be a military intelligence officer and cyber threat analyst, this is a real threat. Nothing in the world is really for free, so you have to ask yourself why this site can offer thousands of free patterns and expect nothing from it. Obviously there are legitimate needlework companies that provide extensive collections of free patterns, such as DMC and Kreinik.

Why is copyright infringement a problem?

It can be easy to think that illegal patterns aren’t that big of a deal, as the files are digital. That’s not the case – designers can lose tens of thousands of dollars of revenue from their most popular designs being stolen. It’s also heartbreaking to the designer to see people abusing their products they’ve spent weeks and months making. I know of one UK designer who just announced she’s pulling all her patterns from online and is retiring because of the theft of her patterns, she wanted to leave the patterns for sale as a legacy for her children. She can’t do that now, and is completely heartbroken, it’s like the theft of decades of hard work. Also, designers’ reputations can be damaged from illegal copies, as true customers aren’t sure if they’re getting a legal pattern or not. Copyright infringement does have a direct impact on designers and their ability to keep designing. Without designers, the industry will die.
 
For the stitcher, purchasing or downloading an illegal copy of a pattern means they’re possibly not getting the full pattern (such as special instructions, colour keys, things the designer has included to make the pattern easier to stitch). As stated above, they could also be getting a file that’s had malware embedded into it. If the art itself has been stolen and made into a new pattern (such as an unlicensed Disney image), it’s also probable the pattern won’t stitch up well. Cross stitch software isn’t “drag and drop” in that you need to do hand alterations and have experience to produce a high quality pattern that stitches up well. Many illegally produced charts are simply uploaded into software and then a chart produced. So hundreds of hours of stitching are wasted on producing a subpar image, and a lot of money on floss and fabric goes down the drain.
 
Below is a downloadable PDF with some of the basic things you can do as a stitcher to ensure you’re getting a legal pattern. Most stitchers are aghast at the extent of copyright infringement and want to make sure they’re not inadvertently contributing to the problem. Hopefully this article has helped you become a little more aware of the issues, and things to look out for when getting patterns (whether free or paid).
 
By Dana Batho
Artist and Designer @ Peacock & Fig
 
Illegal patterns cheat sheet

The Top 50 Cross Stitch Blogs

Rank
Blog
Great for
1
Reddit Cross Stitch
The massive Reddit cross stitch community offers chat, WIPs, patterns, completed projects and everything cross stitch. With a super active fan base its without a doubt the best forum there is for cross stitch, offering something for everyone.
reddit.com/r/crossstitch/
Active community
2
Mr X Stitch
The modern cross stitch behemoth’s blog, offering everything embroidery, with guest bloggers supplying varied content on a daily basis.
www.mrxstitch.com
Varied embroidery
3
Subversive Cross Stitch
The original source of cross stitch samplers with updated snarky sentiments. Inspiration, patterns and buckets of sass.
subversivecrossstitch.com/blog
Sassy stitches
4
Cross-Stitch by CraftGossip
A whole series of patterns, reviews, techniques and ideas supplied in short blogs by a series of bloggers. Covering a varied aray of topics and themes, all stitches tend to be on the smaller side.
cross-stitch.craftgossip.com
Free patterns
5
Lord Libidan
Free patterns, guides, reviews, in depth blogs, videos, roundups and competitions. This purely cross stitch only blog covers every corner of the cross stitch world on a weekly basis.
lordlibidan.com
Everything cross stitch
6
Jane’s Journal
The stitching legend Jane Greenoff’s personal blog, includes everything from decades of expert tips, general interest, stitching trips, and personal updates. Mostly focused on traditional cross stitch Jane recounts her travels with The Cross Stitch Guild, be that teaching orfeaturing up and coming artists from the guild.
janesjournal.thecrossstitchguild.com
The Cross Stitch Guild
7
DMC Threads Blog
A light hearted insight into embroidery from the largest embroidery thread supplier; featuring interviews, free patterns and decor design, all accompanied with choice selections of DMC items. Each post is made to sell something, but they cover a large amount of interesting topics.
dmc-usa.com/discover
Thread heaven
8
Peacock & Fig
Fantastic tutorials and guides from a very talented stitcher. Both in video form, and high definition image & text. The best place to get information on using less common threads, beads or techniques.
peacockandfig.com
Tutorials
9
Kreinik Thread Blog
Guides on how to use speciality threads, and fantastic real world examples from the thread maker themselves. They often show interesting content from the community as well, and it doesn’t have a hard sell feel about it.
kreinikthread.blogspot.co.uk
Speciality threads
10
The Twisted Stitcher
Long time stitcher, crafter and parent gives a glimpse into her life, featuring heavily on craft fairs, and stitching with children.
thetwistedstitcher.blogspot.co.uk
County fairs
11
The Crafting Geek
Queen of epic stitches and alround speedy stitcher Jess showcases her designs, stitching and patterns, all given away for free thanks to her being awesome.
thecraftinggeek.com
Modern cross stitch
12
With Thy Needle And Thread
Almost entirely a fan of mid-western American samplers With Thy Needle and Thread offers a detailed look into sampler making using traditional styles.
withthyneedleandthread.blogspot.co.uk
Traditional American samplers
13
Clouds Factory
Mostly featuring free patterns from the designer of Clouds Factory patterns, expect guides, postcards from abroad and an occassional recipe.
cloudsfactory.net
General interest
14
Lizzie*Kate Blog
Insights from a cross stitch company that started in 1996. Behind-the-scenes stories about life, design, and of course, cross-stitch!
lizziekateblog.blogspot.co.uk
Behind the scenes look
15
Happines is Cross Stitching
A crafter now fully devoted to cross stitch, expect posts from an active and engaging stitcher.
happinessiscrossstitching.blogspot.co.uk
Achievable designs
16
Connie Gee Designs
A fantastic and speedy stitcher gives update on her many on the go projects on a weekly basis.
conniegeedesigns.com
Weekly updates
17
The World In Stitches
Free patterns, regular updates and stunningly beautiful photography. Very pretty patterns for all levels of stitchers.
theworldinstitches.tumblr.com
Beautiful photography
18
Lpanne & Cross Stitch
Patterns and updates from a designer that is proud to show off their nerdy interests.
lpanne.tumblr.com
Geeky patterns
19
Threadwork Primitives
Very similar in theme to Thy Needle and Thread, a look into sampler making using traditional styles.
threadworkprimitives.blogspot.co.uk
Traditional American samplers
20
Stitching Dreams
A general interest blog from an American cross stitcher, featuring regular updates and insights from her life.
stitchingdream.blogspot.co.uk
General interest
21
Pat’s Cross Stitch Corner
One of the oldest cross stitch blogs around, featuring Pat and her husband as they enjoy their retirement.
cross-stitch.the-gearys.com
General interest
22
Ethan’s Embroidery
Pop culture cross stitch blog from a 20-something male.
ethansembroidery.tumblr.com
Pop culture
23
Justine’s Cross Stitch
Active English mum that’s been stitching for over 25 years. “I try to squeeze in a few stitches every day.”
justinescrossstitch.blogspot.co.uk
General
24
Red Bear Design
Blog for the makers of modern, cute and funny cross stitch patterns.
redbeardesign.tumblr.com
Modern patterns
25
Rachel Roach Design
Tumblr for a embroidery focused Chicago resident.
rachelroach.tumblr.com
Embroidery
26
Hooks And Chains
Eclectic craft blog. Mostly crochet and cross stitch but also a little embroidery, knitting and sewing.
hooksandchains.tumblr.com
Eclectic
27
Cross Stitch the line
A general interest blog featuring a lot of photography, with an occassioanl cross stitch post or two.
crossstitchtheline.tumblr.com
Photography
28
House Of Miranda Cross Stitch & Embroidery
A self described “house of bad ass cross stitch” a mix of modern and pop culture cross stitch and embroidery.
houseofmiranda.tumblr.com
Pop culture
29
ringcat
Creative, geeky and alternative girl. Posting her own cross stitch pattern designs and other things that catch her eye.
ringcat.tumblr.com
Modern
30
Basic Stitch
A selection of finished modern and pop culture cross stitch projects.
bethsbasicstitch.tumblr.com
Modern
31
Anke’s Cross Stitch Stuff
A mix of cute cross stitch magazine projects.
ankes-needleworks.tumblr.com
Cute
32
Badass Cross Stitch
Shannon Downey, fiber artist who sees in pixels and plays with needles. Helping crafty people get more analog in their digital.
badasscrossstitch.tumblr.com
Artist
33
Cross Stitched Sass
A fun and sassy take on subversive cross stitch.
crossstitchedsass.tumblr.com
Sassy
34
My Southern Porch
The life of a cross stitch addict opens her doors so you can peek inside.
mysouthernporch.blogspot.co.uk
General
35
Reading and Stitching
A general craft blog featuring almost entirely cross stitch kits and projects.
reading–stitching.blogspot.co.uk
General
36
The Cross Stitching Librarian
The blog of a cross stitch addict, writing about projects and occasionally other stuff.
xstitchlibrarian.blogspot.co.uk
Tradtional
37
Tapestry Girl
Wool and cross stitch artist. Taking ephemeral forms and capturing them in the permanency of wool.
tapestrygirl.com
Artist
38
Cross Stitch Like A Bitch
A rude take on modern cross stitch with reblogs of her favorite stitchers.
crossstitchesandcutbitches.tumblr.com
Swearing
39
Ann’s Orchard
A crafty mom turned cross stitch master blogging her way through the world.
annsorchard.wordpress.com
Beginner
40
The Diary Of A Cross Stitch Addict
A look into the world of goth cross stitch.
jemsgothshop.blogspot.co.uk
Goth
41
Crafting Paws
A mix of cross stitch and puppy photos.
craftingpaws.blogspot.co.uk
Cute and Modern
42
Cross Stitch Witches
A mix of everything cross stitch from super modern to super tradtional.
crossstitchwitches.tumblr.com
General
43
Spaz in Stitches
The side blog of a geek using cross stitch as a way to cope with anxiety in the world in general.
spazinstitches.tumblr.com
Geeky
44
Alpaca Stitch
Reblogs of various blogs on this list.
alpaca-stitch.tumblr.com
Mixed media
45
Fangirl Stitches
From an Etsy store owner of the same name, creating patterns in the style of WeeLittleStitches, they cover exhibitons they attend, projects they stitch and patterns they create.
fangirlstitches.tumblr.com
Wee Little People
46
Math & Science Cross-Stitch
A true devotion to space, science and math, the blog covers the stitchy adventures and WIPs of a true cross stitch geek.
mathysphere.tumblr.com
Space & Science stitches
47
Ribbon Forest Crafts
An aggrigator of many other blogs on this list, featuring a lot of very varied cross stitch inspiration.
ribbonforest.tumblr.com
Inspiration
48
Avrora Cross Stitch
Etsy store owner’s blog, offering news, updates from the store, as well as occassional free patterns.
avroracs.tumblr.com
Feminine Kits & Designs
49
Liz Stitches
Contemporary cross stitch designs on pop culture topics, covering pattern creation, WIPs and general musings.
lizstitches.tumblr.com
Popular culture stitches
50
Screaming Feline
Personal cross stitch updates from someone taking on multiple epic stitchings at once.
screamingfeline.tumblr.com
Big WIPs
Think we’re missing a good blog?

 
All of the blogs featured abover post regularly (once a month), and blog about cross stitch at least 50% of the time.
We use a lot of factors to rank our blogs:

  • Social media following (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest)
  • Blog subscribers
  • Volume of unique page views
  • Quality of posts
  • Ranking in Google
  • Involvement in the community

Unlike a lot of other blog round ups, we don’t sell positions, or make you sign up to rss feeds directly with us. Instead, we only list the best cross stitch blogs, that are regularly updated.

Cross Stitch Upcycling

Today we have a fantastic guide from @restitch, an artist I’m frankly in love with. His upcycling of completed cross stitch he finds in charity stores are great, and they always look just like the original artist made them that way. He’s opened up his crafty ways and shows you how to make a pattern like him.
 
Hi, my name is Johan Ronström and I’m @restitch on Instagram, restitching old second-hand embroideries with video game characters.
 
Below is a guide on how I made the pattern for my Mario pillow. I usually do my patterns like this, in Photoshop, since I use it in my day job and am very familiar with the program. But most steps use normal tools, and you can follow along with a basic understanding of the program and some google skills! Enjoy 🙂
 

 
Here’s what I do in the video step-by-step:
 
– Count the number of pixels/stitches that needs to be covered
– Covering that pixels from a photoshop document that I made
– Converting it to a Smart Object, so I can transform it as much as I want without quality loss
– Transforming it to roughly match the size by dragging the corners in Free Transform
– Matching the grid all around the edges with Transform -> Warp
– Covering up sneaky stitches by copying empty squares from the original image
– Adjusting the color of the cover-up with a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer (set to only affect the layer below)
– Smoothing out the edges by painting in a Layer Mask
– Googling for Mario 1 sprites in 1x resolution
– Copying the image into a new Photoshop document
– Picking out one sprite and removing the background with the Magic Wand
– Googling for a reference image from Mario Odyssey
– Changing the colors of the sprite into the Mario Odyssey colors, using Magic Wand
– Taking a screenshot of the sprite zoomed in (this is the key to the kingdom!)
– Pasting the screenshot in a new document
– Removing the frame and the background with the Magic Wand
– Copying the big sprite into the pillow document
– Converting it to a Smart Object, so I can transform it as much as I want without quality loss
– Creating a new layer and drawing center guidelines
– Transforming it to roughly match the size by dragging the corners in Free Transform
– Positioning it where I want it in relation to the center
– Re-arranging the layers and reducing the opacity of the guides
– Changing the colors of the sprite to match the colors of the pillow, using Magic Wand
 
Finally, I can follow the pattern from my phone! 🙂

 
These are a few more examples of my patterns:

The Year Of Cross Stitch – 2018

Over the last 10 years of cross stitch blogging I’ve seen a lot happen to the craft, and last year I created a post entitled 2017 cross stitch trends. In it I detailed what I thought we’d see in cross stitch for the following year. In some cases, I was totally correct, in others, not so much. So, for 2018 I decided to get a few friends involved and see what their takes on the future ahead would be.
 

Cross Stitch Magazines

No one saw the fall of Cross Stitch Collection in 2017, it was a fairly massive bit of news. With rocketing costs for printing, and a dwindling ‘traditional’ cross stitch market, magazines are feeling the push. The Cross Stitch Collection may have been the first, but personally I don’t think the last.
In part, most magazines have lost touch with cross stitchers. Now, people are moving to modern stitching, and I think publishers and kit designers might be waking up to that in 2018, just like DMC is currently. Mr X Stitch isn’t as positive, however his own XStitch Mag is proof that modern cross stitch is here to stay.

I’d like to think that other parts of the cross stitch ecosystem might tap into the fact that we live in the modern world, but that’s probably a pipedream. All I know is that XStitch will continue to thrive and disrupt the sector. If people want to subscribe, please do.

 

Threads

Another big surprise of 2017 was DMC’s new threads. Mostly due to the fact that we’d been asking for a permanent set of threads of a few years without word, but the introduction of 35 new threads is a massive deal. So, what about 2018? Now that DMC has filled in most of their gaps of color, I think we’ll really see speciality threads pick up some pace.

Regarding 2018 cross stitch trends from a thread maker’s perspective, I can say that things are looking brighter. That is, brighter colors are in the forecast. People have been asking Kreinik for more neon colors, brighter oranges, and more bright blues like sky blues. I think color cheers us up, so people will be looking to their stitching threads for a boost. Metallic finishes are still a trend, too. Sparkle just makes things special.

 

Software

We regularly track the best cross stitch software both free and paid, and for most of a year there has been no change. However, once a month for the last 4 months, we’ve had an established name throwing in the towel. Software takes a lot of time to update, and with updates on Windows and Mac being nearly constant, it’s a big undertaking.
However, with more and more users moving to Mac (which we see as the most traffic at the moment), we think more and more cross stitch pattern creation software companies will go out of business, and those that don’t will try to take on the Mac market.
There are two things that stand in the way, the first is free online software, such as StitchFiddle which have consistently got better and better over the years. The second are big players such as UrsaSoftware, with MacStitch.
 

Streaming

This year we featured a great series of posts on Twitch, where we look into the rise of these massive video sharing platforms. This trend means one of two things; either first off, we’ll see a massive growth in their audiences, with specialist tools coming out to support them, or a balanacing out of their market share and becoming a core feature of all cross stitchers content consumption.
But regardless of what happens, it shows that cross stitchers aren’t afraid of new things, so I think we might see something new come out of the ashes if the ‘pop’ really does happen.

My dream for 2018 is that the Twitch Creative will keep expanding to new audiences. I hope that we can have a larger presence in the broadcasting community and prove that cross stitch is a thriving art as opposed to a dying art as some believe. On a personal note, you can look forward to a new creative podcast coming your way in 2018.

 

Patterns

We never normally speak about patterns, as we want to remain independent, however recently we’ve seen a change in patterns. It might be small at the moment, but snarky patterns appear to be making a comeback, with more and more Etsy listings having them. We’ve even seen a few in lifestyle magazines.

There is a growing interest in non-traditional topics, and a huge explosion of patterns featuring simple graphics with snarky or rude phrases. This trend seems to have been spearheaded by Julie Jackson of Subversive Cross Stitch, and now other designers are adding their own take on this trend. The mix of inappropriate phrases and images with a traditional craft seems to really appeal to many stitchers, and provides them with a way to relax that’s also comic relief from their hectic lives.

 

Embroidery

Whilst cross stitch is our main passion in life, finally, let’s talk about embroidery. Cross stitchers tend to try out a series of new crafts throughout any given year, and I think embroidery will spearhead this year. The biggest reason for this, is the sheer volume of Sashiko I’ve seen on clothes, magazines, wallpapers and bags. I think this year we might just loose a few cross stitchers.

The Surprisingly Interesting History Of The Cross Stitch Needle

gold cross stitch needles

What do chimpanzees, Leonardo Da Vinci, the goddess Shiva and the first ever printed advert have in common? Surprisingly, it’s the humble needle. So, pull up a chair and let me tell you how it’s all connected.
Needle history map
 
For a long time, it was suspected that needles were tied into the history of embroidery, however, long before we regarded art forms, we needed to clothe ourselves. Original estimates suggested that we threw on some fur and strode out into the world, however cave paintings from Aurignacia (modern day South Europe) suggested that needles were made from bone and antler back in 28,000BC (Yes, that’s 30,000 years ago). It took them until 17,500BC to create something similar to an eye like modern needles, but with this came a change to a tapered point.
We’ve marked this at point (1) on our map, and is where our story begins.
 
HOLD UP! Not so fast. In August 2016, a yearly dig in the Denisova Cave, Siberia, Russia (1b) found a needle. At first glance, this looks like a standard needle, made of a bird bone, with an eye. But this needle actually predates not only Augrignacia, but Humans themselves. Denisovans are closer in blood line to chimpanzees than to modern humans, and offer a glimpse into a world 50,000 years ago, when they were using needles very similar to ours.
We’re yet to see proof of the age of the needle, but we thank the Siberian Times for the story.
world oldest needle
 
As homoisapiens started to reach across the world, so did needles. Our next stop is in Armenia (2) where metal work starts to take shape in 7000BC. Starting with copper and later bronze (one of the first bronze items in the Bronze age period) needles changed to metal in 2500BC.
 
Not to be outdone however, Indian sword smiths cast amazing Khanda swords, the sword of Goddess Shiva, in iron (3). This miracle quickly starts to move to Europe in 1195BC.
&nsbp;
Moving closer to modern history, commercialism comes into play. In 500BC a drawing plate, how modern cross stitch needles are made, is developed (4).
bronze printing plate for advertisement of needles, china
To go along with this, in the Song Dynasty in China, a copper printing plate has been found to print posters in the form of a square sheet of paper with a rabbit logo with “Jinan Liu’s Fine Needle Shop” and “We buy high quality steel rods and make fine quality needles, to be ready for use at home in no time” written above and below. It’s considered the world’s earliest identified printed advertisement. (6)
 
Not one to be outdone, ever, Leonardo da Vinci designs a lapper for grinding needle points, and actually constructed it in 1496AD (7).
Lapper for Grinding Needle Points by Leonardo da Vinci
 
Finally, we end our journey with Germany, where, in Aachen 1615AD (8), the first steel needles are made.

The Best Biscornu In The East

Something that I’ve never made is a biscornu. It’s basically a staple of a cross stitchers tool kit however, So I decided I just couldn’t wait any longer.
 
But it just isn’t that easy. So instead of following any old guide, I went to the best guide supplier on the internet; Peacock & Fig.
Sashiko Biscournu in red
Together I’ve made a sashiko inspired pattern which she’s stitched up and made into a guide for you!
 

 
You can download the two patterns here:
Biscornu pattern side 1

Biscornu pattern side 2

Or you can direct download a black and white version