I rarely talk about tools of the cross stitch world on this blog; we try to stay impartial at all times, however, that changed last year when I just HAD to tell you about tiny travel scissors. You can get them from loads of brands, so we weren’t playing favorites, but since then we’ve had a few people ask about different tools of the cross stitch world. Normally, those tools that people tend not to buy. Tools like identification cards.
The first identification card we’ll look at is an aida gauge. Prior to knowing these things existed, I’d swear blind at a normal ruler as I counted stitches on a random bit of aida I hadn’t bothered to label correctly. Yes, I know you’ve been there!
You buy some fabric, bring it home, and it goes in a pile. Those piles somehow merge and you’re lost as to if its a 16 or 18 count. Well, that’s where the aida gauge comes into play.
Without even having to count, you can check the size of your aida, use the stitch markings to see how big a pattern of a certain stitch size will be on various fabric counts or even check your design is positioned correctly before you start stitching (that’s got me on more than one occasion).
The fact that these things are less than $5 and check aida from 11 to 40 just goes to show how awesome they are, and just how much you need one.
Next up we have needle identification cards. These things use established sizes of tapestry needles so you can compare your needle to a set list of sizes. In principle, its a great idea, however if you’re anything like me, you’ll make sure you store your cross stitch needles properly. In that case, it might not be that helpful.
We like needles here, and as a result its probably no surprise that we’ve come across gold plated needles before. In fact, we even mentioned them in our post about choosing the perfect cross stitch needle for you. However, a lot of people are skeptical of gold plated needles. There’s a good reason for this; they cost a lot more, and they’re often viewed as a luxury that doesn’t can you anything. But they can actually be fantastic needles, and we want to convince you to try them out.
So we start with a simple question; why gold? Simply put, you’ll find claims about gold needles from improving your cross stitch, to stopping wrist injury and even more crazy claims. In short; they’re all lies. There are two reasons you might want a gold plated needle; allergies and smooth passing of threads. We’ll go into more details on those later on, but as a warning; don’t believe the crazy lies.
Type of Gold Needles
So now we have that out of the way, let’s talk about types of needle. Most people expect a gold needle to be solid gold, and I’m afraid that’s not the case; they are gold PLATED needles. But not only that, some aren’t even fully plated.
A lot of gold needles you’ll find are only gold on the eye. This is mostly to keep the price down, but the idea that the eye of the needle is the largest part, so you only really need to plate that. In my mind, I don’t agree and find these needles are normally the ones that aren’t worth the money. However, if you like the idea of a gold plated needle, but don’t like the cost, they can be a good alternative.
So let’s hit the biggest issue of gold plated needles on the head right away; cost. Gold is expensive, and yes, gold plated needles are more expensive, but they do vary in price. Realistically they can be anything from a few cents more expensive per needle, to double the price, depending on quality (which we’ll speak about later). This seems OK to start but bear in mind that gold plated needles don’t last as long as nickel-plated needles, meaning you go through them faster. I’m a big fan of getting rid of old needles, but let me tell you, you’ll be going through gold needles at a rate of knots (once again, we’ll say why later).
So now we have that out the way, let’s talk about positives. The first is a nickel allergy. It actually affects more people than you think and can go undiagnosed for a while. You might get stiff fingers after stitching, slight swelling and redness. And for those people, gold needles are the only way they can stitch. You either have an allergy or you don’t, so that’s pretty much all there is to say about this.
For the rest of us non-allergic cross stitchers, the advantage of gold plated needles is the smoothness of stitching. Specifically, gold is a soft metal, but nickel is harder (but still fairly soft). This means as you push the needle through your cross stitch fabric the gold moves. Yes, you heard that right, the gold actually moves out of the way. We are talking tiny tiny tiny amounts here, but this allows you to have a smoother feeling stitch.
It might sound a little stupid, but it’s genuinely a great stitching experience. This is why I want you to try gold plated needles. There is simply nothing that compares to how nice it is to stitch with gold plated needles. I know a lot of people that swear by thread conditioners but gold plated needles are MUCH smoother.
But all this fancy gold does come with a downside; corrosion. Gold reacts far faster to things like hand oils that nickel, and thanks to the way the gold reacts to you passing it through the fabric, the gold plating does come off. In fact, it comes off far quicker than you think, realistically it starts being a problem at about 6 hours stitching. Gold plated needles in general last maybe 30 hours. This can be improved to 40 to 50 hours if you store your needles properly, but your gold needle will quickly become a steel wire before long.
We rarely have to speak about steel when it comes to cross stitch, nickel needles usually break before you expose the steel core, but steel does terrible things to your cross stitch. Its biggest problem is the tarnishing that can stain your work, or even rust it. And trust us when we say cross stitch stains can be a pain to get out. So you will throw needles out quickly.
Variations in Manufacture
But it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, the differences in supplier can be massive when it comes to gold plated needles. We’ve spoken before about the best cross stitch needle brands and we really mean it when it comes to gold. For example, most people plate their needles with 1 micron of gold, but cheaper manufacturers supply less than 0.2 microns of gold. The thicker the plating, the longer they’ll last. The best we’ve found are the cross stitch guild gold plated needles with 2 microns of gold.
Are They Worth It?
So now we’ve spoken about the differences, price, feel and how hand oils can impact them, the question remains; are they worth it? And that’s a hard question to answer. In short, it depends on you.
If you have an allergy its a no brainer; try them. But if you don’t they still might be worth getting. Everyone’s hands vary and the oils they produce do too, so for some, they won’t have the corrosion problem, for others, the smoother feel is worth the high price tag. But you won’t know, until you try them.
What About Platinum Needles?
I’ve had a few people mention platinum plated needles to me while I was putting this post together, and yes, you can buy platinum plated needles. But having tried them; they gain nothing more than a gold needle does. In fact, platinum is a softer metal so corrodes faster, and the price is 4 times more than a standard needle. If you want our advice; just stick with gold.
When you’ve finished a cross stitch you have a few options on what to do with it. You can frame it for display or just store it. Traditionally, these are the only two things people think of doing with cross stitch. But there is another way; sell it.
Now, before we start, I’m not going to suggest you can make a business out of selling completed cross stitches, but you can get some extra cash to fuel your hobby. And after all, with all of those cross stitches in storage, never to be seen again, you might as well do something with them. So here is how to sell your completed cross stitches.
I’ve said before that Etsy is a good thing for the cross stitch world and I’ll say it again. As not only is Etsy the powerhouse of cross stitch pattern suppliers, but there are loads of people selling completed cross stitch too. In fact, of all the options on the list, we found the highest prices on Etsy, even though there weren’t as many actual pieces for sale.
Just sign up, list your item (cost is 20 cents) and set your price. Etsy takes about 5% of the whole transaction price.
eBay is the second on our list and is by far the largest of the market places for completed cross stitch. The one big benefit of eBay over something like Etsy is cost. eBay doesn’t charge to list your item, meaning you can keep the listing up for however long it takes to sell.
Sign up, list your item (free for personal users) and set your price. eBay take a beefy 10% of the transaction price though.
If those transaction fees seem a little steep, how about setting up your own store? You can use online tools like Shopify to make a store or make your own. People like Shopify can take from 2% to 10% depending on your set up, but you can get an online store through SquareSpace for about $15 a month.
Find your preferred store, make a website, list your items and market your website.
Away from the internet, how about craft fairs? Most cities and some towns host monthly or yearly craft fairs, and usually, you can get a free stand. You have to think about costs here though, as they quickly rack up. You need to cover your transport, booth fees (if there are any), booth decoration, lunch on the day, etc.
Look in local papers for upcoming events, reach out to the organizer to get a booth, work out your costs, set your prices and sell!
Take Custom Orders
Finally, we’re going to talk about custom orders. This is a slightly different ball game, as you don’t get to stitch what you want; you stitch what someone else wants. The prices are usually 1-2 cents per stitch, meaning on something 6×6 on 14 count, you can earn $140. This is by far, the best in terms of profit of anything on our list. If you’re lucky you can even find jobs going for up to 5 cents per stitch.
Getting these gigs is harder than the rest as well. You’ll have to reach out to cross stitch designers directly. Most designers create patterns to sell on platforms like Etsy and eBay, but don’t have time to stitch them up. However, they’re all very much aware that having a photo of the completed piece helps you sell cross stitch patterns.
When it comes to starting a cross stitch, other than gridding, most people just start. But if you’ve found your fabric fraying whilst stitching, you probably mean to do something about it next time; but never do. Stopping fabric fraying, especially aida and evenweave, seems like a daunting task, but we have 7 ways to stop that fabric fraying, regardless of what cross stitch fabric you’re using.
Hand Sew The Edges
The first thing for many when it comes to fraying is to stop it using some type of sewing method. For most people, this is the blanket stitch, but honestly, any edge stitching (or even backstitch) will stop fabric fraying. The one issue is that it takes forever. This is twice as bad if you sew on a large piece of aida, and then cut it down once finished, meaning you have to stitch it twice.
Machine Sew The Edges
However, sewing machines exist for a reason. Lots of cross stitchers also have other hobbies like machine sewing, and therefore a sewing machine at hand. This can be super useful for winding bobbins but also stopping fabric edges fraying. It’s super-fast and generally works better than hand-stitching anyway.
The most common stitch is a zig-zag, but many sewing machines can also do edge stitches specifically made for this. And if you have a serger, even better!
But what about a no-sew method? We start with a commercial option, fray check (other brands available) which is like a thick glue. It sticks the edges of the fabric together, giving you a stiff edge to your fabric, that will never (and we mean that) fray.
But the commercial glues do cost a lot of money. And so there are two options using less expensive options.
The first is a thick super glue (note; you can get different thicknesses) which is basically the same as fray check. Fray check tends not to stick to human skin as easily as super glue, but it works just as well and is much cheaper if you can avoid sticking it to yourself.
The second option is PVA glue, or ‘craft glue’ as its sometimes called. This requires you to wait for it to dry, but PVA glue will hold the edges of your fabric just as well. It doesn’t stick to skin, it’s non-toxic (although we’d suggest never eating glue), and if the worst happens, you can just wash it off.
The way I personally prefer to edge my fabric, however, is tape. If you wanted the cheapest option, sellotape works, but masking doesn’t leave any residue. It’s fast to apply, is super cheap, and works just as well (if not better) than the other options on our list.
Next up, we have pinking shears. That might sound like a fancy new term to you, but in all likelihood, you’ve received aida with pinked edges. Simple little shark teeth like cuts. Thankfully a pair of scissors does this for you, meaning all you have to do is cut your fabric out. We should say however that whilst this is a common method used to stop fraying, it doesn’t actually stop it. Instead, it reduces the impact of fraying. If you intend to really get hands-on with your fabric, this technique might not work too well.
Finally, we have fringing. This technique works wonders, and the fact that it’s been around for hundreds of years is a testament to that, but it’s also very visual. More often than not it’s used as a decorative edging rather than to stop fraying. However, if you don’t like the look of fringe, you can crochet the edge.
I often see people talking about stitching on linen, evenweave or monk’s cloth, and people in the comments are quiet. It took me a while to work it out, but people aren’t aware you can cross stitch on other fabrics. Most people see just the standard cross stitch fabrics like aida and evenweave, but you can pretty much cross stitch on any fabric out there. You have to change the way you go about stitching sometimes, but there really is a world of fabrics out there to cross stitch on.
When it comes to cross stitching, you probably learned with aida. It’s the go-to fabric to use for cross stitch as its uniform in size and shape, comes in different counts and makes nice cross stitches. In all likelihood, you know how to stitch on aida, so I won’t dwell, but if not, check out our guide on how to cross stitch.
What I will say, however, is that cross stitching on aida requires you to go through the closest hole to the one you started with. In short, 1 over 1.
Before we start, let’s talk about the differences between Linen and Evenweave. In fabrics like cotton and Aida, the vertical threads (Weft) and the horizontal threads (Warp) (see our cross stitch terms guide for more info) are evenly spaced out, meaning you get nice square blocks to stitch on. Linen is NOT like this. In most cases, linen is bigger in one direction than it is the other. There is nothing stopping you stitching on linen, but be aware your cross stitches may be a bit irregularly shaped. Evenweave however, is linen that is specifically made to be nice and uniform.
Can You Cross Stitch On Monk’s Cloth?
Yes. Monk’s cloth is another name for evenweave, and you can cross stitch on it the same way you would evenweave.
Now we have that out of the way, let’s talk about actually stitching on it. Unlike aida, you have to stitch 1 over 2. Pull your needle through the first hole, jump a hole, and then put it in the next one. The reason we do this is that unlike aida that is woven together with starch, linen and evenweave are loose weaves, meaning threads can move from one row to another by jumping over/under threads.
By doing this you reduce the overall count by half, however with a 28 count evenweave you can get a 14 count cross stitch, with a nicer background fabric.
Whilst aida, linen and evenweave are the most common fabrics to cross stitch on, you can also stitch on others. One big one people often forget about is cotton fabrics, polyesters, and general clothing fabrics. Unlike the other examples on the list, you actually need something else to stitch on; waste canvas. It works very much like aida when stitching, however once you’re done you wet it, and pull out all the fabric threads. This leaves you with cross stitch in neat shapes, despite the fabric under it.
What about knitting, or crochet? We mentioned that knitting and crochet is a great additional hobby to cross stitch, so you may already do one of them, and you can cross stitch straight onto it! It works the same as aida, so it does make your knitting one sided, but you can really make a piece stand out by adding a bit of cross stitch.
Pretty Much Anything
We wrap up this list with, everything. Yeh, everything. Thanks to things like waste canvas you can stitch on any soft material, but by using a drill you can actually cross stitch on any hard surface without waste canvas.
Over the last 13 years of cross stitch, I’ve learned a lot of cross stitch specific terms and phrases. I went to talk at a school recently and a lot of teens looked at me with confused looks. Turns out, cross stitch really is like another language. So here are as many terms as I could find that will hopefully help those new to the craft to make heads or tails of what’s going on.
BAP – Big Ass Project – Can be used in reference to epic cross stitches, or just large full coverage cross stitches like HAEDs.
FO – Finished Object – A cross stitch pattern that has been finished as per the pattern. Patterns with backstitch are sometimes photographed before backstitch and after, with the FO tag accompanying the later.
FFO – Fully Finished Object – Similar to an FO, but also framed.
HAED – Heaven And Earth Designs – A specific brand of cross stitch patterns. They supply large full covereage cross stitch patterns with only full stitches.
LNS – Local Needlework Store – This is in reference to a brick and mortor store somewhere close to the purchaser. Tends to be more expensive, but you can pick up last minute supplies.
ORT – Other Random Threads – Short ends of threads cut off when finishing with a length of thread. Often collected in ORT jars.
RAK – Random Act of Kindness – Cross stitchers may give away surplus threads, aida and patterns on message boards and cross stitch forums. Nothing is expected in return.
SAL – Stitch-A-Long – A pattern that is given bit by bit, to be stitched with other cross stitchers.
UFO – Unfinished Object – An unfinished cross stitch project that is no longer worked on.
WIP – Work In Project – An unfinished cross stitch project.
Aida – A starched fabric most commonly used for cross stitch. Has small holes allowing you to form an X with your thread in a gridded way. Often count in counts from 11 to 28.
Band – A strip of fabric, usually aida, 1 inch or 2 inches tall with an ornamental border on top and bottom.
Binca – A fabric similar to aida, but firmer and tends to come in only 6 and 11 count. Fabric stores may incorrectly refer to aida as binca.
Brittany Lugana – A commonly used evenweave fabric from Zweigart. It comes in 28 count.
Evenweave – A softer fabric used for cross stitch. The fibers of the thread are placed differently to aida and a different stitching technique must be used.
Linen – Evenweave fabric made from flax, a natural fiber. Cross stitches will not lay flat on this fabric.
Magic Guide Fabric – An aida fabric from DMC with blocks of 10 stitches marked out with colored threads. The threads marking the blocks change color once wet.
Murano – A commonly used evenweave fabric from Zweigart. It comes in 32 count.
Perforated Card – Similar to plastic canvas, but made from one sheet of card with holes cut into it.
Plastic Canvas – A sheet of plastic which allows cross stitch to be stitched onto it. It can come in a style emulating aida, or a singular sheet with holes cut.
Pre Gridded Aida – An aida fabric with threads marking ten stitch blocks. The threads marking the blocks change color once wet.
Soluble Canvas – A plastic sheet with holes cut out that can be used as a guide to cross stitch onto fabrics without a grid. The canvas dissolves in warm water.
Waste Canvas – An even weave fabric that has a lower level of starch. Use to stitch onto other fabrics without a grid, and then removed by pulling the fibers out one by one.
1 over 1 – A standard cross stitch where each cross stitch is made up using the least amount of holes within a griddedn fabric.
2 over 2 – A cross stitch that is double the size of a 1 over 1 cross stitch on gridded fabric. Often used in higher count evenweave. An evenweave with 32 count 2 over 2 will create a 16 count cross stitch.
Count – A number that refers to the amount of cross stitches you can stitch into the fabric in one line using a 1 over 1 technique within 1 inch. The standard count is 14, but comes in 6, 11, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 16, 28 and 32.
Gridding – A way of marking out blocks of 10 stitches onto the fabric before stitching. This avoids the complications of counting incorrectly.
Warp – The threads that run horizontally through your fabric.
Weft – The threads that run vertically through your fabric.
Bobbin – A small plastic or paper shape you can hold your thread on. Allows for easier thread storage.
Bobbin Box – A box used to store embroidery threads on bobbins.
Embroidery Thread – Thread used in cross stitch. Made up of 6 floss strands loosely spun together. Embroidery floss is broken down and not stitched with.
Étoile – A type of thread from DMC. Contains a small bit of glitter in the thread to help it shine.
Floss – The strand of embroidery floss used to actually stitch.
Light Effects – A type of thread from DMC. Speciality threads that are neon, glow in the dark, metallic or wired.
Skein – An 8m length of embroidery thread. Often the way most will buy embroidery thread.
Variations – A type of thread from DMC. The strand of thread changes color through its length in a repeating pattern.
Variegated – A type of thread from DMC. The strand of thread changes intensity of color through its legth in a repeating pattern.
Perle – An embroidery thread mostly used for embroidery, but can be used with cross stitch. This thread cannot be seperated into floss and must be stitched with whole.
Aperture card – A card with a window cut out allowing you to place a completed cross stitch behind it. This allows you to either make a cross stitch card or to help with framing your work.
Beading Needle – A needle that holds a bead and helps when adding beads to your pattern.
Bobbin Winder – A small tool that allows you to take the thread off the skein and place it onto a bobbin. Made to sit on the side of a bobbin box.
Bobbin Ring – A large metal ring that allows you to hold bobbins eye the hole at the top. Used for storage of bobbins used on a current project, and not long term storage.
Color Card – A flyer with either printed examples of a full thread range, or samples of the threads to help you pick colors when designing patterns.
Cross Stitch Needle – An alternative name for a tapestry needle.
Embroidery Hoop – A wooden or plastic hoop used to hold your fabric taut so you can cross stitch onto it neatly.
Embroidery Scissors – Small sharp scissors that are used to cut threads. It can come in many forms.
Floor Stand – A wooden or metal stand that allows you to clip a cross stitch hoop or frame to it allowing you to stitch “hands-free”.
Frame – A wooden frame that allows you to hold your fabric taut so you can cross stitch onto it neatly. Larger than a hoop.
Fray Check – A glue applied to the edges of the fabric that stop it fraying or breaking apart.
Lap Stand – A small stand that allows you to clip a cross stitch hoop or frame to it allowing you to stitch “hands-free”. You place the foot of the frame under your leg and sit on top of it.
Needle Eye – The hole at the top of a needle that you place your thread through.
Needle Minder – A small magnetic object you can attach to either side of your fabric that hold your needle either whilst not stitch, or using the parking method.
Needle Threader – A small tool that helps you push the floss through the eye of a needle. It comes in many types.
Q-Snap – A cross stitch frame made out of plastic tubes/PVC pipe that holds your fabric taut so you can cross stitch onto it neatly.
Seam Ripper – A sewing tool that helps with the removal of stitches by cutting the threads.
Scroll Frame – A wooden frame that allows you to hold your fabric taut so you can cross stitch onto it neatly. It allows you to scroll through a large piece of fabric so you don’t need to keep changing its position. Different types can either be sewn or clipped into the frame.
Stork Scissors – A type of embroidery scissors shaped like a stork bird. This is a traditional design that helps you make cuts closer to the body of your work.
Table Clamp – A small clamp that holds onto your table that allows you to clip a cross stitch hoop or frame to it allowing you to stitch “hands-free”.
Table Stand – A small wooden stand that allows you to clip a cross stitch hoop or frame to it allowing you to stitch “hands-free”.
Tapestry Needle – A blunt-tipped hand sewing needle with a long eye. Used specifically for cross stitch. Comes in a variance of sizes.
Thread Conditioner – A wax substance that helps threads go through fabric, stops it fraying and stops oils getting to the threads.
Backstitch – A running stitch that lied on top of the cross stitches to help define the details of the pattern.
Colonial Knot – A small knot made by wrapping the thread around your needle. Used to add extra details to your pattern. Easier than a french knot.
French Knot – A small knot made by wrapping the thread around your needle. Used to add extra details to your pattern.
Full Cross Stitch – A standard cross stitch.
Half Stitch – Half of a full cross stitch, just one stitch in a \ or / direction.
Petit Point – A full cross stitch that takes up the space of 1/4 of a normal stitch. On 14 count fabric a petit point stitch would be in 28 count.
Quarter Stitch (1/4 Stitch) – A quarter of a full cross stitch. Made up of a stitch in a \ or / direction only covering half of its full length.
Three Quarter Stitch (3/4 Stitch) – Three quarters of a full cross stitch. Made up of a stitch without one quarter stitched, leaving a small stitch in a \ or / direction missing.
Blending – A mix of different colors of types of threads stitched at the same time with the same needle. Used to create a new color, add detail, or help blend two different color blocks on patterns.
Confetti stitches – Single stitches that are spread around your pattern, or are not located near any other stitching in non-full coverage patterns.
Cross Country – Stitching one color in your pattern at your time, requiring you to move all-around your pattern.
Danish cross stitch – A form of stitching where you complete only half of each cross stitch before moving onto the next stitch. Once a row has been completed you go back on yourself and complete the stitches.
English cross stitch – A form of stitching where you complete each cross stitch in full before moving onto the next stitch.
Frogging – The removal of stitches as they were incorrectly placed.
Parking – A method of keeping active threads on your cross stitch. You stitch with one needle, and then attach it to the side of your work without removing the thread. You start on another color and then go back to the ‘parked’ thread you were using previously.
Railroading – A stitching method that allows your thread to lay flat and look neater. Often expected in cross stitch competitions. A tool called a railroad dowel can help with this technique.
Loop Method – Alternatively called the Knotless Method. A way of starting your thread. You take one length of thread and fold it in half. Thread both loose ends of the floss into the needle eye and start your stitch from back to front. When placing the stitch from the front to back, catch the loop at the back of the work.
Waste Knot Method – A way to start your thread. Tie a knot at the end of your thread, and insert the thread from the front to the back a few stitches into the line of stitches you wish to create. Start stitching as planned. Snip off the knot once done and the thread should be held by your new stitches.
Anchor – Thread manufacturer. The second most common threads used for cross stitch.
DMC – Thread manufacturer. The most common threads used for cross stitch.
Elbesee – Embroidery stand/hoop manufacturer.
Fiskars – Scissor manufacturer. Simply designed scissors for various purposes, including fabric and thread cutting.
John James – Needle manufacturer. The most common needle supplier for cross stitch and embroidery.
Milward – Needle manufacturer. Also supply scissors, hoops and other supplies.
Siesta – Embroidery stand/hoop manufacturer. Supply smaller hoops such as 3 inch hoops.
Thread Heaven – A brand of thread conditioner that is no longer in production.
Zweigart – Fabric manufacturer. The inventor of aida, and the most used aida and evenweave supplier in cross stitch.
Counted Cross Stitch – The standard form of cross stitch where one follows a pattern and uses a plain gridded fabric to recreate the design.
Markup App – A program used on devices like phones and iPads that allow you to mark which stitches of a cross stitch pattern you have completed.
Motif – A small image that makes up a part, or the whole, of a cross stitch pattern. An example is a singular bird or a Christmas Tree.
PDF – A file type that digital patterns come in. It can be opened by most phones and computers without additional software.
Sampler – A traditional form of cross stitch made up of a varied set of stitches. Often refers to a cross stitch with text and imagery.
Stamped Cross Stitch – A counted cross stitch with fabric pre-printed with the pattern. You stitch on top of the fabric and the color washes out once wet.
Stash – The mass of cross stitch supplies you have but aren’t currently using.
Symbol – The small icon used in cross stitch patterns used to highlight a specific color thread.
#WIPwednesday – A common phrased used online where stitchers share images of works in progress. It should only be used on a Wednesday.
Are there any other terms you need to be explained? Leave a comment below and I’ll update the list!
Title: Rorschach Ink Blot Test Panels 1 to 6
Date Completed: October 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Pop Culture: Noir
I design patterns for the Xstitch magazine, and this issue the theme was noir. I know the themes are based on general terms to help promote a more varied selection, but I also write for the magazine, and in this issue, I spoke about black. So of course, my mind went to black for the stitch too.
But I couldn’t find anything I liked. I tend to stitch on black a lot, but making a dark black stitch is hard, and frankly, not very interesting. But then I happened across a set of ink blot tests in a toy store. They were full of color, but I loved the idea of a Rorschach ink blot test. Not only were they (mostly) black, but they were a pseudoscience that was very of the noir movie aesthetic and time period. It just worked.
The patterns didn’t really work though. My first idea was to pick just one and make it huge, but as you guessed, it was a lot of black. So I cut it down in size. But this meant it was not only non-symmetrical, a key feature of the ink blots, but it was full of shades. These shades were OK, but the way the DMC colors work, the dark colors were hued. They had blues in, or purples and they looked wrong. Finally, I made them all, pixel by pixel to get it perfect. I had to make a decision early on, with ink blot 2, as it had red in. Whilst this still fitted with the theme, I just felt it was better as black.
You can get cross stitch inspiration pretty much anywhere, but after hitting a few dozen massive projects, you sometimes want a change. And whilst looking for unique cross stitch ideas I came across people who mixed cross stitch with interior design.
Unlike other projects, which are destined to go into cross stitch storage, by making something to do in your house, you’ll always be able to enjoy it.
The easiest way to get into interior design cross stitch, or super massive cross stitch for that matter, is peg board. It comes in loads of different sizes and its rather cheap. You can paint it, stain it, or cross stitch on it. It might not be the most traditional cross stitch fabric, but it sure works for a great addition to any room. You can also turn it into things like stools for an added factor.
If you don’t want to make something the the wall however, you could always pop down to your local Ikea. Not only is it stocked full of items with regular holes in them (think chairs, floor mats, lamps, etc), but there are items made from peg board, meaning you can have a functioning bit of furnature with a sweet cross stitch edge.
How about something a little more refined? By ditching the needle and thread and picking up a paint brush you can add a cross stitch design to literally anything that takes paint. You can find a great guide from homeheartcraft if you’re interested.
But just because the inside of your home can be cross stitched up, doesn’t mean it has to stop there. By using gardeners yard you can use things like fences to add cross stitch characters. It’s actually been seen in big cities before with the illegal cross stitch movement. Maybe its safer to stick to your own garden though.
Cross Stitch On Anything!
However, let’s be honest here, you can actually cross stitch on anything, and we mean anything. Cross stitching can be done with something called waste canvas, or you can even cross stitch without waste canvas by drilling holes. The great thing about this is that you aren’t limited by size or count, you can do your own thing.
On of the most googled questions about cross stitch is still about taking it traveling. And whilst there are a whole host of people giving advice on taking cross stitch needles on planes, actually taking it is a whole different thing.
You have to think about size of project, stuff to bring, how much space you’re going to have, how to keep your work from getting dirty, and making sure you don’t loose your needle! So we’ve decided to give you a run down on the best tips for travelling with your cross stitch.
Can You Take Cross Stitch Supplies On A Plane?
Let’s get the biggie out the way first; yes, you can take your cross stitch supplies on a plane.
You may place your knitting needles and needlepoint tools in carry-on or checked baggage.
TSA Official Guidelines
That said, you should still consider taking something like snip scissors as sharp and pointed scissors can cause delays at the airport.
So, what tips can I give you?
Don’t Take Something You’ll Miss
Let’s start with a tip that’ll probably put you on a downer right away; don’t take something you care about. Being super realistic, taking cross stitch travelling increases the likelihood of it getting dirty, damaged or even lost, by a considerable amount. Don’t take that heirloom piece that’s been in your family for 30 years; you’re asking for trouble.
Take A Smaller Project
That said, I would also suggest taking something small. This actually has three points to it. The first reflects the point above, take a small travel project, that isn’t your main piece, but one that’ll keep up your interest during travel.
Secondly, depending on your method of travel, space might be an issue. On planes, you rarely have enough space to reach out your arm, and no one will appreciate you trying it with a needle hanging off the end, even if it is a tapesty needle.
Thirdly; how are you going to take it with you? The is simply no way you can fit the 2 meters long epic Pokemon generations cross stitch with you. Smaller will help you here.
Pack A Project Bag
Now that you’ve picked a smaller project, let’s think about actually taking it somewhere. So you need a place to store it. The first thing I would suggest is getting a cross stitch travel kit. As per our cross stitch gift guide you can pick one up for about $30, including all needles, snip scissors, a couple of bobbins, magnet, etc.
Secondly, you need a project bag. This can pretty much come in any form, from a resealable food bag to a handbag, but so long as its clean, and tan store your cross stitch; it’s worth it. Just make sure you don’t chuck the rest of your travel gear in the bag too; it’s for cross stitch only.
Put Your Hoop On Backwards
This is where we get onto the slightly weird things; we’re going to suggest you put your cross stitch in the hoop backwards. Yes, backwards. Normally you place the cross stitch on the outside, however when traveling this area will rub on the bag, possibly getting your work dirty. But by flipping the cross stitch to the inside of the hoop, you save yourself the possibility of dirt and damage.
Take A Reading Light
Finally, we suggest taking a light. It doesn’t have to be a fancy day light bulb or anything, but taking an additional light, even if its a cheap reading light, will help you in the darker moments of travel…
I have a secret I must share with you all. Whenever someone shows me a cross stitch, I ALWAYS take a peek at their cross stitch kit. In fairness, this has helped me in the past, without it I wouldn’t be using snip scissors or a cross stitch magnifier, and after all, its hardly like a ladies handbag.
But today, I don’t want to talk about someone new, I want to talk about the thing everyone overlooks; pliers and tweezers.
Now those who have one of these in their kits will probably be nodding away at just the slightest mention of them, but those people are also the ones that never talk about them. The rest of you are probably reading this in sheer confusion at what seems to be an electrician’s tool, but trust me when I say this; I think pliers and tweezers are the most underrated tools in a cross stitcher’s arsenal.
Let me start by saying that these aren’t your run of the mill beefy pliers used to bend metal stakes or whatever (can you tell I don’t do DIY?) these are more petite. In fact, there are loads and loads of craft pliers out there for specific purposes. I personally choose a pair of round-nosed jewelry pliers (more on why later), but you can also get tweezers, in metal or plastic, and in fact, there are pairs of tweezers with magnifying glasses too!
What Are They Used For?
So let’s finally let those confused readers in on the secret. Cross stitchers can use pliers and tweezers in three main ways. The biggest thing for me is pushing through threads.
The way I was taught to end a thread, like many of you, was by pushing the needle through the back of the stitched threads. Once done, you pull it out and snip the end off. Or at least, that’s how most guides SAY it should be. In reality, the force of getting that thread out is probably the most strenuous thing any cross stitcher will do in the hobby. This is multiplied about one million times when using plastic canvas too.
This is where these tools come in really handy. By gripping the end of the needle you can reduce the overall force you need to apply and the needle will pop right out. We suggest round nosed pliers, or plastic tweezers if you’re going to do this, as the sharp edges of metal tweezers and straight pliers can damage the needles. And whilst I do say you should throw out that old needle I don’t think you should throw needles away all the time…
The second use for these is frogging. Yes, the dreaded frog. I’ve previously spoken about tools that make frogging easier, but tools like tweezers are a good alternative. Unlike a pair of scissors or seam ripper, you can unpick the threads without cutting them.
Equally, they are good at picking out stray pieces of threads that might have developed (I swear some threads fluff more than others), alongside picking out any dirt that might get on your work.
Should You Get Them?
Well, if you haven’t already; yes! I know they might not be the fanciest of cross stitch tools, and they sure don’t make things more fun, but they will make things easier for you.