On our series covering the best cross stitch magazines we review the biggest world wide cross stitch magazine, The World Of Cross Stitching.
To do this review we’ve compiled a series of reviews from industry leaders, as well as feefo reviews and at least a year of continuous subscription to the mag.
When people think of cross stitch magazines, the first one they think of is The World Of Cross Stitching. Its one of the longest-running magazines and has over 44,000 monthly readers, making it the largest international cross stitching magazine. As a result, when flicking through, you see mainstream patterns; tailored to make sure they are as accessible as possible. Whilst this can appeal to an average cross stitcher, the younger or male cross stitchers tend to feel very underwhelmed by the teddy, flower and heart patterns that adorn most issues.
The teddy was just so cute, it even got my daughter into cross stitching!
In regards to the content itself, almost all of the patterns are by the four editors/designers who aren’t known for being big players in the field. At least 20% of the magazine is devoted to full-page adverts for various companies. The patterns themselves are mostly small (under 5 hours stitching time), with one 24+ hour piece in each issue.
Its market share shows that cross stitch clearly isn’t on the way out, however with its slightly overplayed British vibe and traditional patterns, its lost market share recently to alternatives like the CrossStitcher which appeals to a younger crowd.
$6 – $12 per month; digital and print
✓ Loads of patterns ✓ Lots of mainstream patterns ✓ Large readership
╳ Not many modern patterns ╳ Expensive outside of the UK ╳ Not many freebies
On our series covering the best cross stitch magazines we review the more modern cross stitch magazine, CrossStitcher.
To do this review we’ve compiled a series of reviews from industry leaders, as well as feefo reviews and at least a year of continuous subscription to the mag.
As the main competitor to The World Of Cross Stitching magazine, the CrossStitcher takes a different angle to the world of cross stitch, with a much more modern take. The patterns are modern and feature unique ways of finishing stitches, framing, and witty new takes, which allows it to be the main cross stitch magazine for the younger and more modern crowd. They tend to vary patterns inside from 60-90 equally spaced between small, medium, and large patterns. Unlike many other magazines, they tend to advertise using actual content, suggesting a site to get a frame, etc instead of full-page adverts.
If you like very modern and contemporary designs then that’s probably your best bet. They use lots of bright, bold colours, fun finishing ideas etc
They are also well known for the free stuff you get, allowing you to at least complete 2 patterns each issue with the freebies provided, although it should be noted the freebies aren’t the highest quality. Its by far the cheapest magazine on offer at the moment, and there are no high fees to pay for postage, especially so with the digital versions.
Today we have an awesome post by KathleenCG who’s giving us an insight on keeping stress free with cross stitch 😀
In times where I am stressed, I’m glad that I took up cross stitching as a hobby. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with stress – exercise, writing, spa day, etc. For me, it’s cross stitch. I’ve been doing cross stitch for just over a year now. It has become a bit of a escape for me, as I’m able to submerge myself in it and forget my troubles. Read on for the ways cross stitch helps me keep my stress levels low.
Cross stitch keeps me focused
With cross stitch, there are many variables that come into play. From figuring out the pattern to counting how many squares you need to stitch, you need to make sure you’re paying attention at every step. It can be very easy to make a mistake. I like to take my time when I stitch. By keeping focused, my attention to detail has grown pretty greatly. I’d rather get it right the first time than have to restart everything all over again.
It keeps me distracted
Similar to keeping focused, cross stitch helps distract me from whatever I have going on in my life. I look forward to being able to sit and cross stitch at the end of my day. Cross stitch is a top ‘downtime’ activity for me. Usually I like to catch up on some TV shows while I stitch. Between those two activities, I don’t have much space to think about anything else because I’m focused on finishing the project at hand. I also find that watching TV while I stitch helps me work faster.
There’s nothing cooler than sitting back and looking at what you’ve made. You spend hours, days, sometimes weeks on projects that seem never-ending. But when you’re done, you can’t help but get a sense of accomplishment. The stress seems to disappear when you look at what you’ve finished and think, “Wow, I made this all by myself.” I love this feeling because it makes me feel proud of myself. It’s a great self-esteem booster and I find it pulls me out of a rut whenever I’m feeling down or stressed.
Above all, cross stitch helps me out the most because I love doing it. There’s no better way to de-stress than to do something that you thoroughly enjoy doing.
One of the first things any cross stitcher gets is a frame, and as they develop their craft, they start looking at other options. We show the best frames out there, with detailed pros and cons so you can pick the right frame for your project, if you’re looking for a way to cross stitch faster or finish your project in a frame.
Embroidery hoops are probably the first types of frame any stitcher gets. They come in multiple sizes, they’re cheap, and they can be left in the hoop for as long as you like (even for framing). However, the very fact that you’re reading this post probably suggests you don’t want to stick with one. They’re a bit clunky, hard to hold, and can’t accommodate large stitches.
However, before we move on, there are loads of types of hoops that might help. Whilst most start with wooden hoops, that can be quite heavy, plastic ones are far lighter, and whilst not as strong, are much easier on the wrist.
✓ Cheap ✓ Can finish the piece in one ✓ Come in varying sizes ╳ Hard to hold ╳ Need to keep buying different sizes ╳ Cannot use for medium/large pieces
Basically a standard embroidery hoop, but instead of an internal wooden ring, they have a wire you slot in. They have a nice and easy install, however they don’t have as strong of a pull than the wooden kind. They also tend to come in a little more expensive too.
✓ Mostly cheap ✓ Super easy to set up ✓ Come in varying sizes ╳ Hard to hold ╳ Need to keep buying different sizes ╳ Cannot use for medium/large pieces
And so scroll frames were invented! Solving all the problems an embroidery hoop has (even if they cause some others) scroll frames are the go to frame type for anyone moving on from a hoop. They allow you to sew/tape/staple in your aida and you can stitch to your hearts content. There are a few draw backs though; they’re heavy, really heavy, however you can attach them onto holders so you don’t have to hold them. In addition they’re quite expensive, and due to having to sew in your projects, wear quite quick. You also need to loosen the frame when you’re not stitching to stop it pulling unevenly. And finally, you have to attach them to the frame, either by stitching them on, tape or stapling, which pulls at the edges of the aida and takes forever to set up.
✓ Come in hundreds of sizes ✓ Perfect for large/extra large pieces ╳ Heavy ╳ Quite expensive ╳ Cannot “hold” stitch
So if you read the above review, the main issue with scroll frames comes from the fact that you have to stitch them in. However with an easy clip frame you instead clip the aida in, solving all these problems. Sure, scroll frames, even easy clip are heavy, but they hold the aida tight when not stitching, they don’t wear, and they’re just as versatile. Most serious cross stitchers move onto an easy clip frame sooner or later, they’re the best long term investment.
As an update to my original post, you can now get plastic easy clip frames that are much lighter.
✓ Come in hundreds of sizes ✓ Perfect for large/extra large pieces ✓ Best long term price investment ╳ Heavy
Speaking of long term investments, bar frames are sold as exactly that. They’re sold in 4 to 6 inch bars which clip together to allow you to extend the size of your stitching area. It means that instead of having to buy progressively larger and larger frames, you can just add a few cheap bars. However, this does come with a few draw backs. Firstly, they’re not light, although still lighter than scroll frames (although the plastic ones are lighter). Secondly they’re really bad at holding large pieces, the plastic variety is even worse at this. Thirdly, you can’t hold your aida in one when not stitching, they warp the shape due to being square frames; which is a real problem baring in mind you have to staple your aida in.
✓ Much cheaper long term than other frames ╳ Quite heavy ╳ Cannot “hold” stitch ╳ Cannot use for very large pieces
This is a new type of frame, made to try and combine all the above frames into one super frame. I’ve tried them a few times, and whilst they do live up to a bit of the hype, I still find myself going back to a easy clip frame. They’re made up in a similar way to a bar frame, but made of a special interlocking rigid plastic so it holds large pieces better. In addition you then clip in spikes to the edges to hold the aida. You’re meant to wet the aida pull it across and it holds the aida perfectly, which does work VERY well, especially the tension it holds, however it requires at least 30 minutes of building, then getting your aida all wet before you can put it together, and then a further 4-8 hours to let your aida dry completely before you can use it. They also have a “Grip-n-Frame” product too, which allows for fantastic framing of finished pieces.
✓ Cheap ✓ Light ✓ Perfect for small/medium pieces ╳ Cannot “hold” stitch ╳ Can be uncomfortable to hold ╳ Takes hours to set up each time
Universal Craft Frame
Unlike the rest of the reviewed frames, this one you can create at home. Simply put, its a series of PVC pipes. You can buy kits to make your job slightly easier, however its adaptability is the real seller here. You can swap out lengths for shorter or longer pieces depending on what you’re stitching, and you can very easily put your project into the frame. They tend to loose their hold so you need to put them back in each time you stitch, however it takes seconds. They don’t pucker or flatten the area stitched areas, and they’re lightweight. The only one downside is as the projects get larger, it can get a little unwieldy.
✓ Cheap ✓ Light ✓ Perfect for small/medium pieces ╳ Cannot “hold” stitch ╳ Not suitable for larger projects
May the 4th be with you on this festively Star Wars themed round up!
To start us off, we have an awesome dark side composite image, making up Vader’s face out of Empire goodness. Frankly, this would be awesome if it was made in any medium, but to condense all that into cross stitch is truly brilliant.
Sometimes however simplicity wins. This storm trooper, utilizing a hoop and white aida to create most of the piece is genius!
No list of Star Wars would be complete without mentioning this epic Star Wars tapestry, that is a chronology of the first 6 films in the series. At 30 foot long, and frankly some of the best films ever created, its definitely going to give the epic Pokemon cross stitch a run for its money.
Often within the stitching community the question of art or craft comes up, and on a general basis, it can be answered. However cross stitch always sits outside the classifications, and no one is really sure. It’s not an art form in its own right, its part of embroidery, however, there are LOADS of art pieces out there with just cross stitch. So does it deserve to finally be called an art form?
Mastering the art form
I wrote a post a few months back now on becoming a cross stitch master and how achievable that actually is, however, I never addressed the elephant in the room; a master OF WHAT?
The reason there are so many issues here is down to the definition of an art form. In short, it could be “a medium for artistic expression”, “an activity that requires skill and care” or “the more or less established structure, pattern, or scheme followed in shaping an artistic work”, all of which cross stitch applies to. But it’s STILL not classed as an art form in its own right. So why?
I recently posted a link to someone who had used my cross stitch as a base for his own artwork, so surely the original must be art too?
For many, cross stitch conjures up images of cute kittens and country cottages, but there’s a different side to cross stitching that its an art in its own right, and will encourage them to be a little braver with their art.
However there are a few exeptions. What I like to call the “modern renaissance” where art is in the hands of everyone, there are a few notable examples:
WWII cross stitch
We’ve shown this piece before in a history of cross stitch, however the works of Major Alexis Casdagli in the second world war are not only a fascinating story in their own right, but his most widely known work (seen below) has traveled all over the world in modern exhibitions.
The only truly well known cross stitch artist is Severija who uses cross stitch with historic objects to truly create a memorable set of works. We even devoted a whole post to creating works like hers.
So does any of that suggest an answer? Well, yes. But mostly in the craft camp.
Whilst there is cross stitch art out there, most of the works being produced are being done for just a beautiful image. To truly be classed as art in a modern form, it needs to have a message, like Severija’s works. So as much as I hate it, I’ve got to admit I’m not an artist.
I’ve now been published twice under my own name and had patterns/writing in 4 others. I just released a Star Wars cross stitch book, and I even have another project in the works with the same publisher. Many of my contemporaries are doing the same, but still, whenever someone picks up my book I get the same question; What’s it like to write a book?
Now, I’m going to be a bit more specific here, and assume they mean a craft book, as writing fiction and non-fiction books are very different. I would know, I have one of those too. But its true, non-fiction and fiction are MASSIVELY different.
So let’s get down to it. Positives first, or negative? Time to flip a coin.
The Possible Negatives
Well, negative first. The good news is that whilst there are negatives, they aren’t that bad. In fact, I get a kick out of the extra pressure, but I know a lot of people, including Genevieve Brading (Floss & Mischief) who had some seriously tight deadlines.
Which is the first thing;
In the best scenario you might have 3 months. Whilst this seems like loads, there is one issue; you also have to stitch 12-20 projects in that time. Not easy. With some projects, you might be able to kick them out on a weekend, but others can be massive (Star Trek LCARS comes to mind…)
Last Minute Changes
So you work for three months solid, and then all goes quiet on the Western Front, leaving you to sit and wait for up to a year. And then the license holder suddenly changes their mind about EVERYTHING. A super busy period exists where you just don’t know how you can get it done at all, but somehow you do.
All The Help
And this is how you get it done. The secret of every craft book writer. Massive amounts of help. I’ve relied on a few people, but massive kudos goes out to BlackMageHeart who has been a serious help with all the books. And frankly without her; it would have been impossible. Thanks!
You Get Paid
Well… Yeh. You get paid. Now it’s not a massive amount of money, but considering its the cherry on the cake, it’s always a plus 😀
And this is why you do it. Sure, it’s not going to be the next Harry Potter, but you’ll be the author you always wanted to be.
Unless its a flop.
Would I give it up?
Hells no. I LOVE to work to a deadline, and frankly having a project where I think about kawaii characters instead of video game characters allows my mind to bring in some different perspectives and makes me a better pattern maker.
So you like cross stitch, and it has it’s health benefits, but are you addicted?
Your fingers are always twitching to itch
That’s how it starts, that’s how it gets you. The first thing you know you sit there at work, or in the super marketing, and you just wanna get back home to stitch something up.
You cancel 90% of social meetings just to stay home and stitch
And that’s when the read addiction sets in. Do you really want to go to the bar with your friends, pretend to follow the game and be absolutely knackered tomorrow? Or should you just cancel it like all the others and sit at home in the warm with a nice brew and your cross stitch?
You can’t go to a gallery without wanting to turn art into cross stitches
Previously that painting looked nice. Now it NEEDS to be turned into cross stitch. I mean, that’s the perfect medium. I mean why did the artist even choose paint to start with. For that matter who is this Picasso guy?
You have at least 2 stitches on the go at once and at least 5 patterns bubbling around your head
Oh, but it isn’t just art that isn’t safe. No, its EVERYTHING. There have to be at least 2 projects on the go, at least 5 patterns in your head, and a whole raft of paper or a journal with even more… I just can’t find enough hours in the day…
you no longer count projects in hours, but in days
On that point, no longer was a project 24 hours. Now its counted in days. Maybe even weeks…
Any time anyone mentions any type of textile your name is ALWAYS mentioned
You don’t even have to be around anymore. People are aiding your addiction. Any time anyone mentions textiles, art, embroidery your name pops up. Bonus points for being able to detect when it’s happening from across the office.
No nerves in your fingers
The ultimate sign of cross stitch addition. You have basically no nerves in your fingers anymore. There are needle marks under your nails. You’re a wreck. You need help… Or maybe you should try out that awesome half stitch idea you’ve been thinking about…
A cross stitch calculator is basically a requirement for all stitchers. Sure, if you wanted you could do the maths, but who has time? And who want’s to check it three times over to make sure its right? Neh, instead, pull out the calculator.
There are a few out there now, each doing slightly different things. We’re going to roundup all the best ones in one post, with their pros and cons.
This post has started for a simple reason; I wasn’t happy with the ones available. So I took all the best features from all of the below calculators and combined them into one. Which we (of course) belive is the best, but we’ve also got loads of support from reddit!
Yarntree’s calculator has previously held the title as the best due to its extra features. It allows you to select extra aida a the sides for framing and gives you both inches and centimeters, but it also simplifies this down by just asking it you want it or not, doing all the fancy maths in the background.
Barely known for anything else, needlework tips & tricks’ calculator has gained a lot of momentum due to it being more mobile compatible than the others mentioned (other than our own), however will a lot less options, tends to be a quick reference calculator to give an approximate, and not exact measurements.
It really shouldn’t surprise you that social media is one of the first options here. And it really shouldn’t surprise you that Instagram is the most important one. As a primarily image-based sharing platform its craft following is really quite massive, with people regularly getting up to 10,000 followers. What’s even better is the engagement with people is super high.
Other social media
Other social media is pretty much the same as the above, but unlike Instagram, you need to limit the text, limit the hashtags, and you’ll get less of an impact on posts. But, you can post multiple times for more love!
DeviantArt is similar to a few other things on this list, however as the largest online artist sharing platform, it’s obvious that this is where you want your work. It requires a little more effort to get popularity than social media platforms, but with over 10 million finished pieces on its databases, you’ll be addicted in no time.
Forums are SUPER at self-promotion. There are loads out there, but big highlights are Craftster, crossstitchforum or more specific sites like SpriteStitch. The great thing about forums is they’re full of your peers, meaning you can get tips, help out others, and of course, promote your work.
We recently went through all the best cross stitch forums so you can find your community.
Now we start getting more technical. There are loads of blogging platforms out there such as wordpress, blogger or tumblr which makes it super easy to create a website. Over time you’ll get more and more people following your site, and can help out the community with awesome posts like this.
How to do it
So now you know where to upload it, is there an easier way? The answer is yes; automation.
If you’re making a website, there are plugins you can get that post to all of these are more. And if you’re not, you could use a tool like Zapier or IFTTT, which post across all.
Have you got any preferred ways to promote your work? I’d love to hear them in the comments!