What’s the best mark up app for cross stitch patterns?

cross stitch mark up app ezpdf (Source: youtube)
A lot of people like to keep track of cross stitch patterns on their computers, ipads, tablets or phones, but what are the best ways to mark up your cross stitch patterns? We’ve reviewed the biggest solutions on the market to help you pick.

Jump to Android
Jump to iOS
Jump to Windows & Mac

Best ANDROID markup software:

ezPDF ($4) – 10/10

Based on 321 reviewsFrankly ezPDF has everything you want from a markup app. Its light weight (doesn’t take up too much space on your tablet/phone), can open any pdf with ease, and its mark up tools appear to be designed especially for cross stitch. You can undo incorrect markups, even if they were from weeks previous, and the app saves as you go, meaning no mistake app closing loosing your work.



XODO (FREE) – 9/10

Based on 185 reviews Free, and therefore right up there with favourability, XODO is a good alternative to ezPDF. Its not as easy to use, and that’s why it gets a worse score, but there is one advantage XODO has over ezPDF; it can be used across devices. All you need to do is set up an account and you can use the android app or go online (through your computer, iPad, phone or any internet enabled device (including your smart TV)) and you can pick up where you left off. Great for those who want multiple devices.

Foxit (FREE) – 8/10

Based on 82 reviewsFoxit is a great app for editing pdfs on the go, however its built with that purpose, and therefore doesn’t easily control cross stitch markups. It still works, its free, and its great at opening any PDF, however the app is considerably larger than the alternatives, and its just not as good on our tests.

Best iOS markup software:

iBooks (FREE) – 10/10

Based on 1091 reviewsiBooks probably wasn’t what you were thinking when you read this list, but as a built in app, it does everything you need a cross stitch mark up app to do. Not only is it built in, therefore free, but is lightweight, has a easy to use format, and saves as you go. Its not fantastic at loading times, but will open anything you throw at it.



Cross Stitch Markup (FREE) – 9/10

Based on 78 reviews The new app from Ursa software (the makers of WinStitch and MacStitch) is a dream to us, and is the ONLY app on this list specifically made for purpose. It’s frankly, brilliant. But there is one big issue, and that’s its dependancy on .chart files, a file format specifically made for the app. One day I’m sure they’ll be everywhere, but at the moment, finding a .chart is actually kinda hard.

Goodnotes ($12) – 8/10

Based on 27 reviewsGoodnotes is a brilliant app, its on its 4th generation, its been made to do pretty much anything you can think of to a pdf with ease, and its a dream to use. But its also the most expensive app on the list. If you’re aching for a great app that’ll be supported for decades to come, Goodnotes is it, but with many free alternatives, I wouldn’t go with it for my first choice.

GoodReader ($8) – 7/10

Based on 18 reviewsGoodReader is pretty much a carbon copy of Goodnotes, so the same applies from a review perspective, but with the lower cost comes less innovation. They’re always playing second fiddle to Goodnotes.

ezPFD ($2) – 4/10

Based on 312 reviewsezPDF reviewed with our android users as the best app by far, but with the iOS app, everything is different. Hard to install, barely works, late updates, large install file, and not as easy to use as the android version. I’m afraid ezPDF just lets the side down on iOS.

Best WINDOWS/Mac markup software:

WinStitch ($52 ($48 with discount)) – 10/10

Based on 1834 reviews
Use this link ($) or this link (£) to save yourself $5 when you buy!

WinStitch is expensive for a markup app, but its not a markup app. In fact, its a fantastic bit of software for making your own cross stitch patterns, it even reviewed as the best windows cross stitch pattern software. What makes it helpful however, is its also able to mark up cross stitch patterns. Unlike its iOS app brother, it can do it on all pdfs too. The issue; they should be made from within WinStitch to start.



XODO (FREE) – 9/10

Based on 185 reviews XODO is a great app, its a great online platform, and therefore, its great on PC or Mac. You see, so long as you have a login, you can access your patterns on any computer and pull up its great markup software. Its easy to use, free, and fast.

How to keep up motivation while tackling a big cross stitch project

pokemon epic all generations cross stitch by samarin6 (source: spritestitch.com)

We’ve spoken at length about how to get cross stitch inspiration and how cross stitch can help you destress but there is one problem we hear a lot about, especially as we give away epic pokemon cross stitch patterns and that’s burnout.
If you’re a youtube watcher, you’ve probably heard about recent videos on content burnout, where youtubers are constantly having to churn out video content, and it takes away the fun. Well, that happens with cross stitch too. Sure, you might not have an audience to satisfy, you’re probably your own worst critic, but keeping up your cross stitch mojo, especially when you’re tackling a big project, can be hard. Real hard. But there are ways to solve that problem!

eat sleep stitch repeat cross stitch by stitchkits (Source: notonthehighstreet.com)
Sometimes this ISN’T what you want. Eat Sleep Stitch Repeat cross stitch by stitchkits (Source: notonthehighstreet.com)

Stitch up some small projects

One of the greatest ways to get through a big project, or even a rut you might be having, is to pick up small stitches. Thoses small stitches might take you a weekend, and you might not even be super into them, but they acomplish two things. The first, is it gives you that completion high all cross stitchers know, and secondly, it gives you renewed enthusiasm for what you’re currently doing. Yeh, you might be stitching away at the same page for 3 months solid, but doing a throw away project gives you that perspective that actually, what you’re stitching right now is going to be awesome.

Look for inspiration

We mentioned cross stitch inspiration at the top of this blog, but actually, inspiration is one of the best things for you. Yes, you might come away with a list as long as your arm of things you want to stitch, and might even have a few patterns to boot, but it’ll remind you why you like stitching, and why you like stitching that epic you’re on currently.

Go on a cross stitch holiday

Tried that? Not helping you out? OK, then stop stitching. I know, I know, it sounds stupid, especially if you’re half the way through to just drop it, but seperation from cross stitch might actually be exactly what you need. You don’t have to sit there thinking about it either, go out, pick up another hobby, knit, sew or just read a book. I personally play computer games. That break helps you renew, just like a holiday. Not only that, but you might find yourself wanting and wanting to revisit it, and once that happens, you know the rut is over.

Don’t beat yourself up

You’re thinking to yourself “but I’m X of the way through, I can’t stop”. Well, I’m here to tell you its OK. You can stop beating yourself up. I’m the type of person that likes a plan, and I like to stick with it, so if I can’t stitch as much as I planned or the project is taking longer than I expected I tend to beat myself up. But there’s no reason to. It’s OK to be late.

Failure is always an option

And in fact, its OK to give up. One of my personal heros is known for a simple notion; that failure is always an option. Sometimes things just don’t work, and giving up is not only an acceptable thing to do, but sometimes, its the best thing to do.

Anagraph Mass Effect Morality Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Red/Blue Mass Effect Paragon & Renegade Cross Stitch
Date Completed: March 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: White
Colours: 2
Video Game: Mass Effect
 
I have always loved 3D glasses and ever since my 3D Pokemon choice cross stitch I’ve wanted to do more, but unlike that one, I wanted to look into the idea of putting two seperate images on top of each other, so that when viewed with red alone, or bllue alone you would see two seperate images. However, after playing around with a Fallout idea failed, I left the idea in my ideas book and didn’t think about it again.
Until I saw someone else’s cross stitch. It was a Stormtrooper crossed with a skull, and whilst I loved the idea, the actual way about making the red/blue image work is what impressed me the most.
Red Blue Stormtrooper Cross Stitch by Tad Tafelsky (Source: flickr)
Red Blue Stormtrooper Cross Stitch by Tad Tafelsky (Source: flickr)

Red Blue Stormtrooper Cross Stitch Close Up by Tad Tafelsky (Source: flickr)
Red Blue Stormtrooper Cross Stitch Close Up by Tad Tafelsky (Source: flickr)

By combining one thread of each color (and in his case also black) he was about to give each color its own placement, and make each image work perfectly. I stole his idea but with only two colors, and I think it came out well. So here is the Mass Effect paragon and renegade images on top of each other. Check it out with red/blue glasses to see the full effect!
Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Mass Effect Paragon Renegade Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Wait, What Are Cross Stitch Counting Pins?

Yellow and Aqua Handmade counting pins (Source: Etsy.com)

One of our most popular posts is about cross stitch gridding techniques and when I wrote the post, I thought it was the only real option. Either you grid or you count. But that isn’t the case. In fact, there is something else; a counting pin.
I had frankly never heard of these before, so not only did I have to look up what they were, but I had to buy some myself to check just how handy they were. And honestly, I was suprised how awesome they are.

Plumeria Counting Pin by GinasUniqueBoutique (Source: Etsy.com)
Plumeria Counting Pin by GinasUniqueBoutique Etsy.com)

In short, counting pins are just blunted pins, but longer and they normally have a cap so you can leave them in the fabric for a while. They solve the problem of recounting. If you don’t grid, you know you’re going to have to count, but thanks to those oops moments in the past, you keep recounting. Counting pins help do that:
 

The most common way to use them is when moving from one stitched area to another spot where you want to start stitching. For instance, if your next stitching point is 12 stitches left and 15 stitches down from completed stitch “A”, using the counting pin to count 12 stitches to the left of stitched point A. Insert the counting pin into that hole, bring it back up 2 or 3 stitches away and put the nut on the pin to anchor it. Take a second counting pin and count down 15 stitches from where the first pin was inserted. Insert the second pin at that point and anchor it. Then you can thread your needle and start stitching.

Tommye J Bunce (aka TJB Designs)

 
In addition you can use them to count out a long line of stitches. Instead of having to go back and count out how many you’ve stitched every so-often.
 
But are they any good? Well, yes, I think they are. I start most of my stitching in the middle, as is the norm, and as a result I tend not to need to grid things, but if I’m stitching a long line, or a phrase, placement of the next stitch, if its apart from the main body of the work, is always a worry-some moment. I count and count and count again. But with counting pins, I feel safe in the knowledge that I counted right. Considering you can pick them up for a few dollars, its worth having one on stand by.

Yellow and Aqua Handmade counting pins (Source: Etsy.com)
Yellow and Aqua Handmade counting pins (Source: Etsy.com)

Animated Running Pikachu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Animated Pokemon Pikachu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Animated Pokemon Pikachu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Animated Pokemon Pikachu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Title: Pikachu Running Animated Cross Stitch
Date Completed: February & March 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Count: 14
Canvas: White
Colours: 7
Video Game/Pop Culture: Pokemon
 
As you may know, I’ve been designing patterns for the Xstitch maazine for sometime, however I have always felt like I wasn’t the best designer there. I mean, there is no chance I am, its full of awesome cross stitch talent, but there is one specific cross stitch, Tom Katsumi’s sewtrope, that I fell in love with. It was an accomplished piece of cross stitch, but that wasn’t the thing that made it great. It was alive. Thanks to an online animated GIF maker, he was able to reproduce its effects, and it truly looks like the cat is running. Well, I knew I had to do something in the style.

I had originally planned out a whole screen, with a sky, grass and pikahu unfurling from a pokeball into a run, however when I actually looked at how many cross stitches it would need (42) and the size, I quickly rethought my plan. I toned it down into 6 frames (and 6 completed cross stitches) with a very small pikachu running. However, then I came across this animated GIF and knew I had to copy it. So I scaled up in size of cross stitch, but thankfully, down in frames, to just 4.
Running Pikachu GIF (Source: giphy.com)
Running Pikachu GIF (Source: giphy.com)

It took a while to stitch them up, and it was actually a pain to line them up for the GIF, but once made, I slowed it down a touch, and hopefully made a cross stitched Pikachu look like he’s running.
Animated Pokemon Pikachu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan
Animated Pokemon Pikachu Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan

Its Time to Improve your Backstitch Game

Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section of ship

Backstitch is often the thing at the end of a cross stitch, and whilst you know it can make a big difference, you’ve not really thought any further than that, right? Well, it turns out that whilst backstitch is super simple, there a lot you can do to improve it. The smallest of changes in your backstitch can have a massive impact, and its as simple as changing the thread thicknesses.
 
In my recent Star Trek Voyager LCARS cross stitch I took backstitch to the extreme, and thanks to a few zoomed in shots of it at my Portal 2 Gun cross stitch, I can show you a few tips.

Thickness of different threads

On the example below you can see a series of different backstitches, and whilst stitching everything as 2 stands would have been fine, I decided to stitch the grid with a single stitch. Why? Because it makes the ship stand out more. The subtle change here hasn’t taken anything away from the cross stitch, but its clear that when looking at this section, the ship is the most important bit. Obviously you could go the other way around here, stitching the ship with 3 or 4 strands of thread.

Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section
Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section

Thickness of the same thread

Yeh, its a thickness thing, but this time we’re speaking about the same thread. In the example below I’ve taken wires coming out of my portal gun and instead of using the 2 stands it called for, at the tips, split it into one. The effect it has is super small, but anyone looking at the cross stitch quickly can see that they start off as two seperate wires, which come together, then split off again. Something small like this has added another layer of detail to a simple cross stitch.

Portal Gun Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section
Portal Gun Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section

Layering

Going back to Voyager here, I’ve taken to combining both thicknesses of threads, and layers. When you look at this image, the first thing that comes out is the outline of the ship, then the decks, and then the details. This was achieved not only by laying the stitches in the opposite order (details first), but also by making the thread thickness larger as I when up. The over all effect has now changed so that the image as a whole is a ship, then the details, and not a super detailed hot mess.

Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section of ship
Star Trek Voyager Cross Stitch by Lord Libidan Zoomed in Section of ship

I’m not saying any of the above examples are perfect, however layering is an effective way to change the focus of your cross stitch, and might just be worth practicing.

The Perfect Printer For Cross Stitch

Green Lake Reflected Color Cross Stitch Print (Source: solidrop.com)

I know what you’re thinking; Is this guy really about to talk about printers? Well, yes, I am. And for good reason. With printer ink costing twice the price of human blood in the USA, its no suprise that printing patterns can cost a shocking amount. But is that the only way?
I’m here to tell you it isn’t.
 
We’ll start with the basics. You probably have a printer that requires ink cartridges at home, it was the standard for a long time. The reason for this was the competition was super expensive. Specifically, the laser printers. But as time has gone on, lasers have reduced in costs massively and now are not only comparable, but chearper than a ink jet. But here’s the big secret; they can be cheaper than a standard printer ink cost.

Black & White Or Color?

The first thing to work out, is if you even need a color printer. Some people use their printer all the time, but never print in color. In fact, most people print patterns in black and white just to reduce cost. As a result, you probably don’t need a color printer. But you’re still paying for one. If this is you; you’re in luck. Look up the prices for a “Mono Laser Printer” and you’ll find a whole load for under $50. Now, much like ink printers these need a supply of “ink” too, and normally these cartridges costs about $50. So all in all, you can get a printer for $100. Now if you compare this to a new ink jet printer with a full set of ink, it’s cheaper from the start. In fact, a new color set of ink costs up to $80.
The big saving is the rate that these lasers go through their cartridge. Most ink printers can print a maximum of 2000 pages, but average only 200. Most laser printers can print a maximum of 20,000 pages, and average, 20,000 pages. Yes, you read that right. Unlike traditional ink, which can dry up, lasers are ready to go whenever they’re needed. And on top of that, they only use electricity, meaning you don’t have to replace it anywhere near as often.
They’re just as high quality print wise, but as stated, they are only black and white. Personally, I think mono laser printers are 100% the best printers for cross stitch.

Green Lake Reflected Color Cross Stitch Print (Source: solidrop.com)
Green Lake Reflected Color Cross Stitch Print (Source: solidrop.com)

But what about color printing? I hear you, sometimes you just need color, or maybe you just prefer a color print. Well, you can still get a laser printer, but a color one. They are roughly the same price, but you need to buy a more expensive cartridge to go in it. This is on average about $100, so its not a small investment, but it can print just as many color pages as the mono lasers before needing replacement, and its the same price as 1-2 sets of standard color printer ink.
There is a problem with this though; it’s not suitable to print on photo paper. It actually gives a better quality print than a ink jet printer, but thanks to the way printer paper works, it just won’t work.
 
Now, that said, I wouldn’t go out and throw your printer away based on this article, but it might be worth checking the prices of a new next time you get some new ink. You might get a great deal; I picked my printer up for $30 thanks to a deal, which was the same as new ink!

What is the best monthly cross stitch subscription box?

The Geeky Stitching Cross Stitch Subscription Box (Source: thegeekystitchingco.com)

Everyone loves a subscription box, that feeling when it comes through your door and makes you feel like its christmas every month, but with more and more subscrition boxes out there, its hard to find the best. So we brought 3 month subscriptions to cross stitch subscription boxes to review, and tell you which is the best to get! Updated March 2019.

The Geeky Stitching Club – Score 9/10

$5 per month: Digital pattern download only
$10 per month: 1 counted cross stitch pattern (6×6 inches), 1 counted cross stitch pattern (6×6 inches), 1 counted cross stitch pattern (2×2 inches), Aida, DMC Threads, Needle, Sweets, 15% shop discount, access to all previous patterns
$15 per month: All of above + 1 counted cross stitch pattern & kit (6×6 inches), Pom Pom Kit
 
The Geeky Stitching Club is our prefered cross stitch subscription box for a simple reason; stuff. You get a lot of stuff. Not content with just one pattern, you get 2 full 6×6 inch patterns, and a sweet mini pattern to stitch up too. You get enough stuff to make one of the larger patterns, and some sweets (always a nice touch). The real gem with the subscription though, isn’t the amount of patterns you get, and not even the price, which is really low, or even that you can add ANOTHER kit for only $5 more. No, the gem, is that you get access to the full back catalog of patterns (5 years worth) for your subscription.
The patterns are well made, interesting, and vary enough to keep you at them month after month. I would say however that there is a definate theme to Geeky Stitching Club patterns; girly. That might not be much of a problem, but don’t expect pop-culture references or snarky comments.

The Geeky Stitching Cross Stitch Subscription Box (Source: thegeekystitchingco.com)
The Geeky Stitching Cross Stitch Subscription Box (Source: thegeekystitchingco.com)

 

Rag Tag Box – Score 8/10

$5 per month: Digital pattern download only
$16 per month (USA); $22 per month (Canada): 1 counted cross stitch pattern (6×6 inches), Aida, Wooden Hoop, DMC Threads, Needle, Link to other pattern options
 
The Rag Tag Box is what you would expect from a cross stitch subscription box. It has a pattern, all the tools needed, a hoop, and even different versions of the pattern supplied to mix it up a bit. The brilliance of the Rag Tag Box however are the patterns themselves. They vary. They vary like crazy. One month you might be getting a snarky phrase, the next a sweet collection of miniatures, the next month a cute animal, the month after a time-specific pattern. What makes these even better however is how detailed, and well made they are. You’d genuinely want to go out and buy these patterns.
The only downsides we could come up with however were both the price, and that you can’t get the kits outside of North America. But, with a $5 download only option, its a nice option (if a little less special). Their patterns can be a little pop-culture and sci-fi related sometimes, but I see that as a positive.

Rag Tag Box Cross Stitch Subscription Box (Source: spot-colors.myshopify.com)
Rag Tag Box Cross Stitch Subscription Box (Source: spot-colors.myshopify.com)

 

Cotton & Twine – Score 8/10

£20 per month (UK): 1 counted cross stitch pattern (6×6 inches), Aida, Wooden Hoop, DMC Threads, Needle, Related “free item”, Sweets
 
As the only UK only subscription box, the market for the Cotton & Twine susbcription box might be a little limited, however its really hitting off that side of the pond, thanks to its parent company, Historical Sampler Company, being at the helm. Well known in the UK cross stitch market for over 18 years, its no suprise that they supply quality items each month. The patterns tend to be in the middleground, a little bit comtemporary, but also a little bit historical. In my mind this lowers the overall interest in the box.
One of the best things about the box though is its extras. Every month you get a free item, which can range from a pillow to cross stitch on, to an Easter wall hanging, stickers or a book. And then there is the sweet treats. Unlike other boxes on this list, the sweets are a massive part, with a heavy dose of English treats, like fudge to endulge in.

Cotton and Twine Cross Stitch Subscription Box (Source: www.historicalsamplercompany.co.uk)
Cotton and Twine Cross Stitch Subscription Box (Source: historicalsamplercompany.co.uk)

Mini Little Stitching Club – Score 8/10

$10 per month: 1 counted cross stitch pattern (6×6 inches), 1 counted cross stitch pattern (6×6 inches), Aida, DMC Threads, Large Needle, Sweets
 
From the same makers of the Geeky Stitch Club, the Mini Little Stitchers club follows roughly the same model, but instead of small intricate designs, offers simple designs, stitched on wooden boards, with big threads and needles. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a suprise that its aimed at 6 to 12 year olds. Whilst this definately isn’t the best subscription box for adult stitchers, its a fantastic way of getting kids into the hobby.

Mini Little Stitchers Cross Stitch Subscription Box (Source: thegeekystitchingco.com)
Mini Little Stitchers Cross Stitch Subscription Box (Source: thegeekystitchingco.com)

 

SnarkBox – Score 7/10

$5 per month: Digital pattern download only
$22 per month: 1 counted cross stitch pattern (3×3 inches), 1 counted cross stitch pattern (3×3 inches), Aida, DMC Threads, Needle, Sticker
$32 per month: All of above + Wooden Hoop, Backing Felt, 1 accessory/gift
 
By far the most expensive subscription on our list, the SnarkBox is a nice, yet slightly samey box. Instead of giving one kit, you can get up to three kits, accessories/tools and finishing items too, so its a great way to built up your cross stitch stash, but with patterns that range from snarky phrase to slightly less snarky phrase, I find there wasn’t enough varied patterns coming each month. In addition, due to the size of the patterns, finishing them all in time for the next box was a push.

SnarkBox cross stitch subscription kit (Source: snark-box.com)
SnarkBox cross stitch subscription kit (Source: snark-box.com)

 

So, What Is 5D Cross Stitch?

5D Cross Stitch Close Up (Source: espacepublic.fr)

I regularly attend events on embroidery, and with that comes questions. Most are simple to answer, some can be more challenging, but as soon as people hear I cross stitch, there’s only one question they can think of:



Have you heard of 5D cross stitch? What is it?

Is it cross stitch?

No. It’s not.

But there are simularities. You see, much like diamond painting, 5D cross stitch uses an adhesive back where small things are stuck on. However, unlike diamond painting, they use a special fabric, very similar to aida, with 14 ‘beads’ per inch.

So is it diamond painting?

Well, its closer to diamond painting than anything else, but still no.

Diamond painting is kinda of taken itself a bit quickly, so no one really knows the original type, but diamond painting uses a diamond grid, not squares like cross stitch. It also uses round ‘diamonds’, a hard backing, a randomised count (which is similar to 16 count).

So where does that leave us?

In short, 5D cross stitch is a half way house between cross stitch, and diamond painting.

It has all the hallmarks of diamond painting, but features 14 count flexible fabric backing, and small squares instead of round pegs.

5D Cross Stitch Close Up (Source: espacepublic.fr)
5D Cross Stitch Close Up (Source: espacepublic.fr)

How To Cross Stitch On Black Aida

Black aida (Source: Etsy)

I personally love black aida, it can really make a piece sing, however I’ve also heard of people scared to use dark and black aida due to the issues involved. Ad while I understand their point of view, dark aida really isn’t to be feared. In fact, with some really simple changes you can make stitching on black aida a breeze!

Light it up like crazy

Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)
Daylight Slimline Table Lamp (source: Amazon)

The first thing that everyone says when it comes to dark aida is light it up. I would personally suggest stitching somewhere so well lit up that it doesn’t matter if you have dark aida or not, but investing in a really reliable and bright light can work wonders for your work. If you’re interested we looked at if daylight bulbs are really worth it and we even mention the use of dark aidas.
But people often ask me about how they should light their area. I’ve regularlly heard about lighting under your work as well as on top, and whilst I understand why, I think that this isn’t the way to go. I would light from the top only.

Cover your lap with white (or use a light box)

Tracing pad (source: Amazon)
Tracing pad (source: Amazon)

And here’s why I think you should light from the top only; you should light from the bottom differently. Instead of using a traditional bulb, you should either use a large white sheet to reflect light, or, my personal favorite; a tracing pad. You can pick tracing pads up from amazon for a dozen dollars, and they’re super light and thin so you can rest them on your lap, or table without issue. The advantage is that unlike standard light, a tracing pad both lights and gives a white backdrop at the same time, meaning you can see right through those holes.

Grid it

Thread grid cross stitch by medlow studio tapesty needlepoint (source: thehappycross-stitcher.com)
Thread grid cross stitch by medlow studio tapesty needlepoint (source: thehappycross-stitcher.com)

I used to hate the idea of gridding, and honestly, I’m not too sure why, but for an average project, I still don’t grid. But that isn’t the case for dark fabrics. For dark fabrics I ALWAYS grid. Half the battle with a dark fabric is the effort of counting, and with a simple grid you can make it so much easier.
Check out our cross stitch gridding techniques if you’re new like I was!

Frame it

Easy Clip Cross Stitch Frame (source: amazon)
Easy Clip Cross Stitch Frame (source: amazon)

You probably frame your work when you stitch, however with dark aida it becomes super important. You want a nice frame that will stretch out the fabric as tight as possible to ensure the holes in the aida open up so you can see through them. You can pick any of the best cross stitch frames out there, but make sure the fabric is really tight.

Magnify it

With all this extra light, gridding, framing and whatnot its no suprise that looking at dark aida is a strain on the eyes. We would suggest taking regular breaks anyway (we’re big fans of the 20-20-20 rule), but there is something else you can do to help your eye sight; magnification. Put simply, the larger the aida, the clearer it is. As simple as that!

Use your needle to ‘feel’ the fabric

When stitching, I like to watch TV, as I’m sure many of you do too, but by doing this I accidently developed a skill I didn’t even know was a posibility; feeling the fabric. I personally think this explination from StitchedModern is the best at describing it, so I’ll leave it to them:

If you slowly and lightly drag the tip of your needle over the fabric, it will dip where there are holes. Do this before you take a stitch and you are more likely to find the hole instead of piercing the fabric fibers. This takes a little practice, but eventually you get the feel of it.

A simple, but truly effective method for dealing with dark aida…

Black aida (Source: Etsy)
Black aida (Source: Etsy)