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.

The Year Of Cross Stitch – 2018

the simpsons cross stitch home sweet home

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.

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.

Little Mojo Cross Stitch Patterns

harry potter crest pillows cross stitch

Before cross stitch really hit off in 2009 there was an undisputed king of cross stitch; Little Mojo. Sadly they’re no longer on the internet, however their patterns remain scattered across many sites, and so this is the only full list of her awesome patterns.
Please credit LittleMojo if you use any.

These patterns are all free to use, just click the image and you’ll be redirected to where the pattern is.

Video Games (370)

– Final Fantasy (16)
Final Fantasy I Sprites
Black Mage
Final Fantasy II Sprites
Final Fantasy Tactics Sprites
Freya
Golem
Greiver
Ifrit
Palidor
Pheonix
Final Fantasy V Sprites
Final Fantasy VII Sprites
Chocobo
Cloud
Clouds Wolf
Shinra

 

– Kirby (2)
Kirby Super Stars Icons
Kirby Super Stars Sprites

 

– Pokemon (352)
Free Pokemon Patterns A-Z
– TMNT (1)
TMNT NES opening screen

 

– Zero Wing (1)
All Your Base Belong To Us

 

TV/Film (31)

– Harry Potter (31)
Golden Snitch
Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy 2
Goblet Of Fire
Hegwig
Hogwarts Crest 1
Gryffindor Crest 1
Hufflepuff Crest 1
Ravenclaw Crest 1
Slytherin Crest 1
Leaky Cauldron Sign
Harry Potter Sprites
Draco Malfoy Sprites
Ron Weasley Sprites
Lee Jordan Sprites
Maruders Map
Pensive
Sorting Hat
Firebolt Quidditch Broom
The Dark Mark
Epic Hogwards Crest
Epic Gryffindor Crest
Epic Hufflepuff Crest
Epic Ravenclaw Crest
Epic Slytherin Crest
Gryffindor Crest 2
Hufflepuff Crest 2
Ravenclaw Crest 2
Slytherin Crest 2
Slytherin Crest 3
Slytherin Crest 4

 

Anime (74)

– Avatar TLA (5)
Aang
Avatar Air Symbol
Avatar Earth Symbol
Avatar Fire Symbol
Avatar Water Symbol
 
–  Berserk (2)
Guts 1
Guts 2

 

–  Cowboy Behop (4)
Cowboy Behop Logo
Edward Wong Hau Peplu Tirvsky
Edward Line Up
Spike Spiegel

 

–  Fruits Basket (2)
Kyo
Yuki

 

–  Full Metal Alchemist (13)
Edward eyes
Edward manga
Edward small
Edward
Edward 2
Edward 3
Hohenhe Im Of Light
Izumi Symbol
Lust
Maes
Manga Riza
Ouroboros Logo
Winry

 

– Gravitation (8)
Gravitation
Gravitation Eyes
Kumagoro
Shuichi
Shuichi 2
Shuichi 3
Tohma Seguchi
Yuki Eiri

 

– Gundam (3)
Heavyarms
Deathscythe
Epyon

 

–  Hack (3)
Bear
BT
Tsukasa Hack

 

– Hana Yori Dango (2)
Sojiro Nishikado
Tsukasa

 

– Inuyasha (6)
Inuyasha Logo
Inuyasha
Inuyasha 2
Inuyasha Crouch
Kagome
Miroku

 

– Ouran High School Host Club (2)
Hunney
Haruhi

 

– Parfait Tic! (2)
Fuuko
Fuuko 2

 

– Persona Trinity Soul (2)
Jun’s Persona
Shin’s Persona

 

– Ranma (2)
Genma
Genma

 

– Sailor Moon (5)
Sailor Moon
Sailor Mars
Sailor Mercury
Sailor Jupiter
Sailor Venus

 

– Spirited Away (1)
No Face

 

– Starzinger (3)
Aurora
Jesse Dart
Jesse

 

– Tenjho Tenge (3)
Ayanatsume
Bob Makihara
Masataka

 

– Yu-Gi-Oh (6)
Yu-Gi-Oh Big
Yu-Gi-Oh
Dark Magician Girl
Dark Magician Girl 2
Dark Magician Girl 3
Atem and Bakura

 

Subversive (9)

Damn I’m Good
Eat Sleep Screw Repeat
Ten Dolla Make You Holla
And The Horse You Rode In On
Mom Likes Me Best
Kiss My Fat Ass
i made u a lolcat but i ated it
Spoilt
The Internets is SRS BSNS

 

Point de croix, Kreuzstich, クロスステッチ and the foreign cross stitch that don’t get as much focus as they should

Kreuzstich heart cross stitch

When you want to look cross stitch for inspiration, go to places like google and instagram offer a whole volume of awesome pieces to choose from. However other than the generic “cross stitch” search, there are a whole host of secretly hidden and stand out awesome cross stitch to see out there. But you have to think outside the box. Specifically, to different languages.

Whilst most of the world tends to use the English translation for cross stitch, there are some notable exceptions. Sadly these exceptions just don’t get as much press as other pieces, so often fall into obscurity. But they’re so darn good!
クロスステッチ zelda cross stitch
The above piece, and a lot of my instagram account, uses the term “クロスステッチ” (cross stitch in Japanese), which not only features a lot of video games, geeky, anime and Kawaii, but blends traditional Japanese embroidery techniques with modern counted cross stitch in an amazing way.

There are a few places around the world that hold a strong cross stitch presence in their traditional culture. Japan as above has newly developed this fascination, however German has been doing Kreuzstich for hundreds of years, and even popularised it in England back in 1840. The believe piece is a fantastic example of work currently being done.
Kreuzstich heart cross stitch
Not convinced yet?

Ukraine has had cross stitch as part of its traditional dress for hundreds of years, and so its no surprise that the Eastern Block and its surrounding countries are big on cross stitch, or вышивка крестиком as it known. We’ve featured her a few times, but stand out cross stitch artist Severija shows they sill take it super seriously.
cross-stitch-helmets-by-severija
Finally, and somewhat more traditionally there’s Point de croix. Whilst France tends to stitch online under the term cross stitch, there’s a traditional backbone stitching under its own term. These tend to be almost entirely traditional, occassionally you find a sweet modern twist.
kittys_Point de croix_cross_stitch_by_ancusa

Download our free 35 page Ultimate Guide to Selling Cross Stitch Online!

the ultimate guide to selling cross stitch patterns on etsy

Selling the cross stitch patterns you’ve created is one way of the best ways to get money for your hobby. With years of past experience and success, we’ve worked together to offer a FREE guide to help anyone that needs it called “The Ultimate Guide To Selling Cross Stitch Patterns Online”.
 
The guide has been created over the last 6 years by three cross stitch pattern sellers on Etsy, with the specific focus on selling cross stitch. Unlike other guides on the internet we’ve made sure that every word is valuable to you. This includes over 40 tips from other Etsy stores, setting up your own store, checklists, examples, best practices, copyright issues, creating patterns, marketing, advertising, and much more.
 
the ultimate guide to selling cross stitch patterns on etsy
 

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The guide is beginner friendly and covers everything you need to know selling on Etsy, from the very basics to the most effective SEO techniques. Here are a few topics from the book:
 

What it includes

Introduction
Why Etsy?
How much time does it take?
How much does it cost?
How much can you earn?
Creating a brand
Setting up a store
Make a pattern
List an item
Future Designs
Ongoing actions
Future Development
Issues you might have
Etsy seller tools
Tips from Etsy store owners
Quick answers
Checklist for opening a store
Checklist for each new item
Item description example


 
This is everything you’ve ever needed if you were thinking of setting up an online store to sell cross stitch patterns. Just throw your email in below (just to stop those pesky robots) and download your free 35 page guide.
 

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Were you looking for a quick guide on selling cross stitch online? Or maybe you want to know why your cross stitch isn’t selling online.