When Cross Stitch And Technology Collide

Technology and cross stitch by Wei Chieh Shih

Cross stitch has been around for more than 2500 years and whilst it has a rich history the advent of new technology into a fairly historical hobby is few and far between. However, with a recent push in the fashion industry for e-textiles, cross stitch has had its world turned upside down. Now, its future tech.
 
I initially heard about lights and PCBs being used in cross stitch back in 2013 when I was about to speak to Wei Chieh Shih about his work, and an upcoming project, “Adelita”. He’s a fashion designer that focuses on technology, but to work out if something is possible, he turns to cross stitch. There are a whole series of conductive thread kits you can now buy, allowing you to install tech into your clothing, but Wei takes it 10 steps ahead, by intergrating programable tech into complex circuits.

He can then take these ideas, simplfy them and create fantastic works of art, like his 2013 “Adelita” project, combining folk wooden toys from Mexico with high tech clothing.

Adelita by Wei Chieh Shih
Adelita by Wei Chieh Shih

But technology and cross stitch isn’t just for the fancy high end artists. It’s not only possible to make clever art using tech, but you can do it really easily.
Cross stitched circuit by Jade Jenkins
Cross stitched circuit by Jade Jenkins

With more and more cross stitch artists showing their work to the world, it’s clear that kits such as Kitronik or LilyPad, we’re not only going to see more tech cross stitch, but also helping push the e-textile world.
Stranger Things light up cross stitch by raleblanc05
Stranger Things light up cross stitch by raleblanc05

Technology and cross stitch by Wei Chieh Shih
Technology and cross stitch by Wei Chieh Shih

What’s the best alternative for ThreadHeaven?

ThreadHeaven

By this point its probably no longer news that ThreadHeaven is no more, but as you work through your stash, have you wondered what to use as a replacement?
 
ThreadHeaven was fantastic as it was both a wax, and a conditioner, and whilst a lot of people think they’re the same, they have two different purposes. Wax makes the thread stick together, and through the fabric easier, whilst the conditioner stops the thread fraying. We’ve looked at all the different options on the market to see which we prefer, based on these two features, using normal and metallic threads, which are MUCH easier to use with thread conditioner. Note that there are other claims, such as protection from UV rays, but we’ve yet to see the science behind that so we’ve not taken it into account.
 

Our Pick: Thread Magic

cThread Magic
I’ll hold my hands up and say I’m not suprised by this. Initially when TheadHeaven was all the rage I thought Thread Magic was the ugly step sister; turns out, I was wrong. So wrong in fact, that I would say Thread Magic works better! Its conditions and waxes like a charm, doesn’t build up over time, and has no scent at all (although one can develop if stored for a long time). The packs it comes in with holes for the thread also make it super user friendly, and whilst it is MUCH more expensive than all the alternatives on the list, it lasts far longer than any of them. A true winner in our eyes.
 

Close Second: White Bees Wax


When it comes to wax, not all are equal. We should note that I’ve said WHITE bees wax here, you can see below for a little bit about why that is. Bees wax is actually a bleeding wax, meaning it penetrates surfaces, such as threads where as other waxes don’t. Therefore it not only waxes the surface, but conditions at the same time. It can get a little waxy after a while of use, but it also smells great, so its worth it! Its worth noting though that bees wax is extreamly flammable; so be careful when ironing if you don’t want to wash your work before hand.
 

Surprise Third: Candlemaker’s Wax/White Unscented Candles


We expected the standard candle to be a out and out flop in our tests, but it turns out, it worked quite well. Unlike bees wax it isn’t conditioning, but it waxes well, and doesn’t build up on your fingers over time, which is a big plus. Thanks to the shape of a candle, its also super easy to wax up your threads.
 

In A Pinch: Water


Yeh, you heard that right; water. So to be more accurate, a damp sponge, however you’re only actually using the water. This idea came from a commenter, and damn is it good. Tried it last night and it worked a treat. However, a few things to remember; don’t use it on speciality threads, they often use metal, which can rust if you’re not careful. And try finding natural or pH neutral sponges to make sure you’re not picking up nasties.
 

Some success: Silicone Ear Plugs

silicone ear plugs
Before I begin with this one, not all silicone-like earplugs are made from silicone; get the pure silicon ones. However, if you find them, silicone can be a good idea. The one thing to say is silicone cannot be washed out. At all. It stays permanently on the thread. Whilst this can be great (it protects the thread long term), it means any dust caught in there, or sweat from hands can’t be washed out. I would use this with some caution for now. We’ll do more tests.
 

JUST DON’T BOTHER: ‘Natural’ Bees Wax


We mentioned above that white bees wax is fantastic for threads, however don’t be tempted to get DIY or ‘natural’ bees wax. Theses aren’t the same. The DIY ones can include some seriously iffy colorants (and could actually be toxic), however even the natural ones aren’t that good for threads. In natural bees wax they often don’t filter off the impurities. Whilst most are perfectly fine, you don’t know what chemicals are hidden away, and you don’t want your work ruined.

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!

FOR SCIENCE! The Best Science Cross Stitch

Central Limit Theorem cross stitch

Sassy cross stitch? Cute cross stitch? Surprising cross stitch? NSFW cross stitch? These are all fairly common things we’ve covered before on this blog, but there is a larger and larger community of stitchers looking to teach as they stitch. Today, we look at the best science cross stitch!

Maths!

Just…wow. This awesome stitch was found when someone asked a question online about distribution. Turns out we should all be thinking about the Central Limit Theorem.
Central Limit Theorem cross stitch

Brain Surgery!

Cross stitching artist Lada Dedic created this awesome self portrait of her brain scan in 2010., Whilst initially it looks cool, you can really get a good grasp of anatomy thanks to its realistic design.
Lada Dedic – Self Portrait, Artist’s Brain (2010) in Cross Stitch

History/Nature/Geology!

OK, this one was slightly a harder to categorise, but look at how awesome these trilobite stitches are! Trilobites you ask? They are a fossil group of extinct marine arachnomorph arthropods. See, you’re learning already!
trilobite cross stitch by adventures in stitching

Space!

There are actually a lot of space based cross stitches out there, but by far my favorite is this sun one by Climbing Goat Designs. Mostly due to its super realistic sun design, something you don’t see often. I’m in love with the soar flare.
solar system by climbinggoatdesigns

Disease!

I know, we already had brain surgery, so why neuroscience? Well, it had science in the title… In reality these stitches by Alicia Watkins cover everything from diseases to coffee.
neuron cross stitch by aliciawatkins

Do Daylight Bulbs Actually Make A Difference?

tracing pad

I recently moved house, and with it came a slew of stitching station opportunities, however there was one big problem; super thick walls. Our two foot thick walls cut pretty much all the light out, and as we moved North, there was less light anyway. So it was time I found a solution.
 
Initially I jumped into looking for daylight bulbs, afterall everyone goes on about them. However all isn’t as it seems.
 

Benefits

Daylight bulbs are a great tool, and I’m not here to say otherwise, in fact for a lot of people getting a daylight bulb is a matter on health (yes, you squinting at your aida).
Daylight is a lot easier to take in with your eyes and when working with detailed things, like stitching, lighting your area and aida is super important. You could just save your eye sight.
There are loads of reasons you might want a daylight bulb other than saving your eyes though, such as great color matching of threads or a strong light that doesn’t heat or take too much energy. In addition most don’t need replacement bulbs that often (or at all).

Problems

This is where you probably expect me to mention getting your hands on bulbs? Nope. In fact, before I started looking into getting a daylight lamp I had the impression they were super hard to find replacements for. Turns out, they’re everywhere (in the EU at least). Due to 2000’s legislation over fluorescent lights, all bulbs in the EU need to be energy saving or LED. Those lights are mostly daylight bulbs. But even so, most LED lamps don’t even need replacing!
And let me guess, you expect me to talk about heat? Wrong again! There are some bulbs that heat up, I won’t lie, but most are LED based, which are completely heat producing free (well, not completely, but they aren’t like normal bulbs).
 
So what exactly sare the problems? Well, its two fold:
daylight-slimline-table-lamp-119

Not all lamps are created equal

I said earlier that some bulbs heat up, adn they do. Some bulbs use a lot more energy, and some bulbs just aren’t what they say they are. In truth, not all lamps are created equal. There is a huge difference in price of these lamps, and some of them are terrible. Finding the right one for your needs is actually super hard. I have some tips down below from my struggles, but its not an easy thing to get into (much to my annoyance).

It interferes with sleep cycles

I love my sleep, in fact other than cross stitch its my prefered use of time. But daylight bulbs do have an impact.
The red light receptors in your eyes pick up on subtle changes in light levels, which in turn puts you into a sleepy mood (in a similar way to fluorescent lights do). Daylight bulbs effectively copy this, making you go through the same cycles. The problem is it also works the otherway, meaning if you use it late at night (like much of my stitching time is) you feel more away, meaning you struggle to get down.
You can negate these effects by only using the lamp in the daylight hours, however you should be using real light whenever possible, so it kinda makes the point of the lamp worthless (unless you’re working on detailed work). However without me realising it I stumbled upon a fix that isn’t mentioned in many places. LED lights don’t create red light. I’ll spare you the boring details, but what that means is it doesn’t impact your sleep. YAY!
 
However, that said, the benefits FAR outway the problems, and with more and more lights becoming LED and daylight bulbs, I decided to stick with my daylight lamp.

Cost

Finally, cost is a big problem. My favorite sewing supplier has lamps ranging from $20 to $250. Initially they don’t seem too different, so working out if one is better than another (I remind you that they aren’t all the same) is only made harder thanks to weird pricing.

This is an advert, but shows off the lamp fantasticly!

Tips

But not all in in vein! I have some tips to make purchasing your next daylight lamp a little easier.
Get the right lamp for your craft – Daylight lamps are made for different crafts, so find one specific to needlecraft. A simple way to find one is to use an online retailer specialising in your craft, however if you go ‘in store’ check with the clerk for some expert advice.
Get the right lamp for your situation – Stitch in your living room? Then a USB powered lamp is not going to be much use. And in the same way, having a lamp meters above your head isn’t going to be helpful either. Pick a floor lamp that sits at chair height.
Do you need magnification? – Some lamps come with magnifying sections for ease, however this raises the price by some way. Think about if you actually need one or not. In most cases it might be easier, cheaper and more effective to get a seperate magnifying glass.
Don’t get confused with the fancy looks – Everyone wants something that looks good, but there is a definate premium for fancy looks. Normally these fancy lamps aren’t great at shedding light and aren’t fit for purpose.
 
If you’re interested, I went for a Daylight Slimline.
 

How about an alternative?

It might surprise you, but there is an alternative that might help; a tracing pad. It light from the table, meaning light behind your project, and normally they’re pretty cheap.
tracing pad

The Weird World of Cross Stitch Food

broderie-objet-metal-16 by Severija Incirauskaite

Themes for cross stitch come in all different shapes and sizes, but its rare to come across something as weird as food. Today, we delve into the world of weird cross stitch food stitches.
pizza cross stitch by CrossStitchMyHeartCoramen noodle cross stitch by CrossStitchMyHeartCo
When it come to food stitches the first thought it probably something like the above. Simple stitches about awesome food, like pizza and ramen. However that really is only the tip of the iceberg.

We start with simple jokes, about bacon. Everyone loves bacon jokes. Everyone loves bacon. Bacon. Just to confirm; bacon.

In fact, facts are pretty popular when it comes to food. Donut ones in particular.
3D donut cross stitch by NickelAndGraceStudio
This is where the real awesome comes out though. This NickelAndGrace 3D donut is insane, and frankly looks way too realistic.

This massive stew placemat cross stitch by RogueStitchery is the perfect idea for someone that can’t stop eating. When their plate is empty, it still looks full!

However, there is no way anyone can compare with our mate Severija, who’s awesome work we’ve covered before.

Cross Stitch Christmas Gift Guide

charizard needle keeper

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 a holiday gift guide on what to buy a cross stitcher in your life. They’re arranged by price lowest to highest.

Fun Needle Keeps – from $5

charizard needle keeper
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.

ThreadCutterz – $12-15

thread cutterz
Cross stitch takes time, and a great place to stitch is on planes and trains, however with security being tightened all over, ThreadCutterz have come to the rescue with a plane safe alternative to scissors.
They can only currently be brought from ThreadCutterz themselves.

Thread Shade Chart – $20

We have a copy of the DMC shade card on our site to see at any time, however on screen images aren’t always that reliable. As a result one of the best tools I’ve ever picked up is a cross stitch thread card. DMC (the most common thread company) do a version with thread samples ($20) including the new DMC threads, which is far superior.
DMC thread card

The Perfect Frame – $12-30


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.

A Good Pair Of Scissors – $30

cross stitch scissors
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. It might also be a good idea to pick up a larger pair to cut aida whilst you’re at it, but make sure you only use them for aida, as other tasks will blunt them, making the aida frayed and weak.

Magazine Subscriptions – $20-60 a year

just cross stitch magazine christmas cover
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, and getting a subscription to those. Prices vary, $20-$60 a year.

Great Cross Stitch Software – up to $200

pcstitch cross stitch software
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.

All The Threads!

Full set of DMC threads
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 realise 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.

The Crazy World of Needle Minders

chapelviewcrafts polymer cake needle minder

When it comes to embroidery thread you either pick DMC, Anchor or an independent. Those are your three main choices. But when it comes to the world of needle minders, the world is your oyster. With the popularity of Etsy rising there have been more and more quality handmade stores creating stunning things for cross stitchers, and needle minders are some of the most popular.

The Cake Has It – $8


chapelviewcrafts polymer cake needle minder
It would be crazy of me to not start with the cake needle minder from ChapelViewCrafts. Not only is it the one I use, but we’ve even included it in our ultimate cross stitch giveaway as it’s so cool!
Made up of tiny tiny cake made from polymer clay, with super realistic design, and some rad final touches (like just a hint of glimmer in the pink fondant) it just makes you want to go get some cake.

Coffee with your cross stitch?


coffee cups needle minders
On the note of cake and cross stitch, where are all the teas and coffees? This awesome polymer clay cuppa beats out the best.

Miniture Bookworm – $8


book needle minder
My first ever needle minder was one of these tiny books, in my favorite cover of my favorite book. As a truly personalised gift they rock, and their plan design means the needle never chips.

Wooden Woes – $6


wood cross stitch needle minder
However, tasty treats and bookworms aside, a lot of people choose wooden needle minders. There are two main reasons for this; lightness and sharp edges. Before super strong magnets became readily available, most needle minders were heavy, pulling down on your cross stitch; something that light woods solved. In addition, metal needle minders tend to chip needles, so a softer material like wood really helps.

Pokemon Pals – $9


pokemon charizard needle minder
The most searched for needle minder though? Pokemon. A staple in the eyes of most modern cross stitchers, Pokemon still reigns supreme, and this 3D printed and hand finished example is hitting all the right buttons. Pokemon might not be real, but with a mini Charizard needle minder, no one will dare take it!