Giant squid might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re looking for cross stitch patterns online, and a giant squid fighting a shark even less, however as soon as we saw this pattern, we were interested. The topic might be a little weird, but by moving the bodies slightly there is a real feeling of movement in the pattern, giving you a real idea that its a struggle between these two beasts.
The way the designer has lowered the color count to very deep colors, with glimmering around the two gives a real feeling it’s deep down in the sea, cold, dark and unforgiving.
I initially planned on using my magnifier on a few small count projects, think 32 count, however before I got to that point I ended up pulling it out to check something on my cross stitch project using 14 count. I would normally have squinted or pulled it close to my face, but for the first time ever, I could just use a magnifier to see it with ease!
Not only that, but cross stitching on black aida has been made considerably easier with the massive light source the magnifier has brought me. I actually use my magnifier a lot, far more than I thought I would, and whilst the super magnification area gets a lot less use, it being there means I have something to use a back up if I still can’t get that dang stitch to lie properly.
So what exactly are the negatives I’ve refered to?
Well, whilst it’s great having a tool at your disposal, relying on a magnifier is a whole different thing. Its bright lighted area and magnification cause havoc with your eyes. And stitching with daylight lamps when it’s not daylight can cause problems with sleep cycles too.
However, the biggest issue is that magnification requires a lot of eye use, and it’s very common for people to get involved in what they’re doing and not taking regular breaks. For those with good eyesight, this can have long term effects on your eye health, and for those who already have eye issues, it can make is substantially worse. That doesn’t mean you have to give up cross stitch if you rely on one though; magnifiers are great to use non-regularly, so consider stitching less, lighting your stitching area better, or reducing the count of your fabric so its easier on the eyes.
Is it worth it?
All in all, I think magnifiers are a fantastic tool for a cross stitcher, even those without issues seeing things in detail (why strain your eyes when you don’t have to) however they should be used as a tool in your armory, rather than something to rely on all the time.
If you are one of those who need it regularly, try reducing your aida count, or using a smaller magnification, taking regular breaks and lighting up your stitching area as much as possible with natural light.
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t keep your cross stitch in a hoop… but it that actually true?
Over the last 6 months, I’ve been testing out different cross stitch frames ad leaving aida in them for seriously long periods of time. Just to see, what happens. And the answer is actually a little complicated.
Does it leave marks?
When I asked around, the main reason people gave for not wanting to keep cross stitch in the frame/hoop was leaving marks. But does it?
Yes. But also no. Hoops, bar frames, ‘Grip n Clip’ all leave marks. Now, frames and Q snaps don’t, but they can curl the fabric. This really isn’t much of an issue if you wash it, but there are many out there that don’t wash your cross stitch.
But hoops do leave marks. Our tests showed that even loose tension hoops could put marks in aida left for a week. Just one week. Now, they can be dealt with, fairly easy, but the longer you leave the hoop in, the harder it is to get out. We’ve tried, and we still can’t get some hoop marks out.
If you’re looking for more info, I’ve rounded up the results in my post about which cross stitch frame is best.
Does it cause other problems?
So what about other problems? Well, here is where the story gets interesting. Leaving your cross stitch in the frame or hoop, DOES cause other issues. Some of these can be easy to deal with, others, not so much.
Stretching – Frames and hoops stretch your fabric. That’s their point after all. But consistent and long term stretching will permanently keep the stretch. This might change a 14 count into a 12 count (one of our test pieces was stretched this much), and whilst that doesn’t seem too bad initially it can have implications. If you’re looking to frame it, it might not fit. If it’s stretched, all the holes are bigger, letting the background show through. And the biggest thing? It’s rarely uniform. There’s nothing worse than having a miss shapen part of your cross stitch that took hours and hours to complete…
Crushing Stitches – In my opinion, this is the biggest issue with leaving cross stitch in a frame, as its unfixable. Let’s say you’ve stitched a section and you move your hoop and some of your stitches are under the hoop. Those stitches are being crushed. Even for short periods of time, this can be an issue, which is why I use a frame, which is slightly better but still has the problem. As you crush those stitches, the tension goes, the top stitch can wonder, and you can even pull the threads out if you’re not careful.
Crushed stitches are really obvious in a finished cross stitch, and whilst washing can give them a little rejuvenation, it can’t fix the worse cases.
Dirt – This is actually a fairly big issue. I know you’re thinking you can just wash your cross stitch, but when its in a frame or hoop the aida is pulled apart slightly. If dirt gets into these stretched parts, it gets stuck and you can’t wash it out as easy. A good solution here is a grime guard, but if you’re traveling, always remove it from the frame.
So do you need to remove it from the frame?
Well, it depends.
If you’re traveling, regardless of the frame or hoop you use, REMOVE IT. You’re just asking for trouble, even with a grime guard. But for anyone not traveling, it’s all about the frame itself. Personally, I would always loosen it when it’s in a frame (just to remove the tension), but when it’s in a hoop, remove it. Whilst the hoop marks are fairly easy to get out (see below) it’s not worth the extra effort, and can damage some of your stitches if you leave the hoop in long enough.
What happens if the worse has already happened?
OK, so you might be reading this after the event, so let me help you if it’s too late.
Marks/Stretching – If you’ve been left with marks or stretching, wash, dry and iron your cross stitch. It’s important that you follow the drying stage of this guide if you’ve got stretching or hoop marks as the ‘blocking’ as it’s referred to allows the aida to move back into shape. If you’ve still got marks after one wash, wash it again (before ironing). It can take quite a few cycles to get those annoying hoop marks out.
Dirt – Generally, washing will probably help you here too, but if you’re really struggling to get some of that ingrained dirt out, you can try a few cross stitch stain removal techniques to help you get it out.
Title: Home Sweet Home Futurama Cross Stitch
Date Completed: October 2019
Design: Lord Libidan
Pop Culture: Futurama
Before I started cross stitching back in 2001, I knew of cross stitch. This was before the big cross stitch revolution in England, and I didn’t have anyone I knew cross stitching, or even crafting. So how did I know about it? Futurama. Yes, the sci-fi cartoon.
But I want to go slightly further back to tell this story. Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons and Futurama, has regularly made nods to needlework in the past. In fact, Marge Simpson cross stitches, which we covered in our Celebrities That Cross Stitch post, but it was always something that someone was doing. It was never the main joke itself. But then Futurama comes along.
As you can see from the above screenshot, Futurama made a simple joke using the ‘home sweet home’ cross stitch in its first season when Fry and Bender get an apartment. But teenage me, who fell head over heels for Futurama didn’t quite get it. Clearly, it was a joke. Clearly, you were meant to understand. But I didn’t. Until a lot of lewd jokes that might go over your head, this was a joke that was clear as day, begging you to laugh.
Well, I looked it up. I saw the cross stitch, but I still didn’t understand. I ended up learning to code from that Futurama code, and now I get the joke, and in fact, I can see the error in the programming now too, but it was the first time I saw cross stitch, and understood it was a thing.
I’ve taken on the joke, and I’ve even stitched a Pokemon Home Sweet Home Cross Stitch in the past, like many cross stitchers and made a free pattern of it too, however not the version that first showed me cross stitch. Some 20 years later, when rewatching Futurama I knew I had to stitch this up.
Sadly, despite the many patterns out there for this, none were perfect. This is mostly due to the fact that it’s a cartoon and pixels mean nothing, so it’s impossible to make it perfect, but I made my own and tried to be as close as possible without ruining the overall look.
It’s probably no surprise to regular readers, but I’m a fan of needle minders. I’ve spoken about the weird world of needle minders before, but there’s something you might not know: I don’t put needle minders on my work.
OK, OK, I love them, and I use them, but I keep it next to me on my work table. I’ve spoken before about finding the perfect needle minder as there is a real issue with needle minders; their weight. But there are also people who just don’t like them. So what are the alternatives if you aren’t a needle minder fan?
Magnetic Needle Case
I hate needle storage. In fact, I’ve gone into detail about how to store cross stitch needles, and in that list, I mention magnetic boxes. They’re a great place to store the needles in the long term, but in the short term, they offer a lovely place for needles on the go. Not only can you store needles inside, but most come with a magnetic cover, so you can drop your active needles on the top too. Its another thing you have to keep around you, but if it saves you stepping on a needle, its worth it.
ALL THE MAGNETS!
Alright, this is cheating a little bit considering that I just mentioned something magnetic, but you don’t have to have some fancy box to hold your needle. You can buy rolls of magnetic tape, or even just plain old magnets from Etsy and Amazon for super cheap, and you can stick them to anything! I’ve seen them used wonderfully on a cross stitch scroll frame, but pretty much anywhere is game!
If you have an ORT jar you can place a magnet under the lid. The magnet sticks to the metal lid, and the top becomes a great place for needles!
A Small Needle Minder
I actually eluded to this in the intro, but needle minders are cool. There’s no arguing. They are the best. I personally have a miniature cake plate, cos if I’m not thinking about cross stitch, its cake. But they are a bit annoying sometimes. So instead of setting them up on your work, remove the back magnet and just stick them to something metal! I have one on my lamp, my desk leg, and one stuck to the top of my thread box (with glue).
Just because you can’t get along with needle minders on your case, doesn’t mean you have to forego them all together.
A Smaller Needle Minder
Let’s get real for a second. One of the biggest reasons people don’t like needle minders is they might damage the work. Now I don’t know this is the case, but they can sag your nicely taught aida if it’s too heavy. But not all needle minders are created equal. Getting a small needle minder will be less heavy, and it’ll fit nicely on your work without damaging it!
My niece LOVES to pick up my cross stitch. It doesn’t matter if it’s half-completed or not, she wants her hands on it. So I thought to myself; maybe there is cross stitch out there, specifically made to be played with. Today, we run down the best cross stitch toys.
Thread Maniac’s Mazes
OK, so I lied already. Thread Maniac hasn’t just created a maze, they’ve created a whole series of cross stitch you can frame and then draw on using dry erase markers. From mazes to tic-tac-toe and the obligatory black board, kids can go nuts drawing and never damage the cross stitch. Very neat idea.
What about something more tactile? Well, we have those in bunches. First up is BlackMageHeart’s Harvest Moon Playset. Complete with 24 crops, a house, farmer, cow, chicken, chick, duck and two ducklings its a full-on farming set, that kids would LOVE to get their hands on. The best thing about it, however, is that the floor, a perfectly stitched farm, is in a frame, meaning it packs up nice and neat once they’re done playing.
Next up we have the figures section. Move over Barbie and Action Man, now we have cross stitch guys. Or more specifically, these two. By stitching simple boxes out of plastic canvas you can make pretty much anything you want. In this instance we both made characters, with my cross stitch being about to transform from robot to truck.
Robin’s Design is one of our all time favorite cross stitch designers. We’ve highlighted her work loads of times in the past including using it as the posterboy of our best 3D cross stitch and even trying to copy the style with my own Harry Potter golden snitch cross stitch. As you can probably tell then, we’re in love with her 3D work, which includes everything from dice to people, to animals, and planets. Best of all, its all made from traditional aida, so is soft like a cuddly toy.
In this quarters XStitch Magazine I wrote about the Silk Road, and how an often-ignored part of Asian history had a vital impact on the origins of cross stitch.
In the piece I often talk about silk, hence the Silk Road name, and talk about how it threads migrated along the route, eventually ending in the round city of Baghdad, where cross stitch was invented. Here not only did they invent the stitch itself, but hessian, an early form of aida. You can find out more in our definitive history of cross stitch. However, my XStitch piece ends there, with silk fibers on a hessian back. So how come we now stitch using cotton fibers?
So why did we change from silk to cotton threads?
It should be noted that whilst cotton has always been used as a thread, it was a luxury product. Silk was the cheaper alternative. The reason for this was simple, whilst there was more cotton available, the processing of cotton took a very long time. Unlike silk strands; literally taken from silk worm cocoons in a long strand, cotton had to be cleaned, split, pulled, stained, woven and washed again. This took a long time and meant that cotton production wasn’t a viable alternative to silk production.
But things did start to change. In India, in the 5th century, they invented a rolling cotton gin. This allowed them to clean and split the cotton fibers very quickly. It was reported that one man and one woman, without using a cotton gin could clean half a pound of cotton a day, but with the cotton gin, they could clean 28 pounds, and if an ox was put to work, they could make 750 pounds a day. They soon started producing large scale and cotton became a rewarding, but niche industry. The reason it was so niche was thanks to India’s specific climate. The climate allowed for the growth of long-staple cotton, which, apart from a few other locations, only grew in India.
Therefore, whilst India enjoyed the advances of cotton, much of the world went without. That was, until 1793, and Eli Whitney.
Who’s Eli Whitney?
Eli Whitney, to most, is known as one of the many key figures in starting the American Civil War. This is all due to slavery. When America got its independence in 1776, slavery was a trade, but not a booming one. Slaves had their uses, but in most instances, their cost outweighed their use. By the mid-1700s, rice, tobacco, and indigo were all losing value, and slavery started to dwindle. This is where Eli’s new cotton gin comes in. Eli, who was against slave ownership, wanted to invest in the future of the United States and created a tool that could be used with the US short-staple cotton, much in the same way India had used it, with livestock.
Whilst this was a noble pursuit, it turned out that the new cotton grew fantastically well in Georgia state. Slavery not only became profitable but took the US by storm, in part resulting in the start of the American Civil war. Eli actually worked with the North to abolish slavery, however his invention, the cotton gin, was a tool that revolutionized the fabric trade.
Soon, the cotton gin was exported all over the world, where it became the most cost-effective tool for making a thread.
It’s really important to us that we use non-copyrighted images for our cross stitch pattern spotlight, so when we were given the task of finding a killer Futurama pattern, we thought we’d have a struggle on our hands. However, in our search we found some really great patterns, with no copyright, but still, clearly Futurama.
We’ve decided to post two patterns this week. It’s actually the same pattern, but in different colors, something that the designer, PatternArtCollection does a lot. It’s in the designer’s typical style, which at the moment is super in; a silhouette front with a detailed, but small color palette. I’m a massive fan of their work, having stitched up three of their patterns myself, so I know that they’re great to stitch, as well as great looking in the flesh.
The funky colors, day and night feel, with Fry under Bender’s legs gives a real feeling of how Bender thinks of himself in the Futurama episode ‘Obsoletely Fabulous’ whilst the forest background also plays off the Forbidden Planet; a massive influence of the series. Truly a great pattern.
When it comes to washing cross stitch you’re either in the “always wash it” camp, or the “do I really NEED to wash it?” camp. Today, we’re going to try and answer that question, and see if washing cross stitch is a requirement or just a good idea.
The case for NEVER washing it
Washing and drying cross stitch is a bit of a pain, however that isn’t the reason people don’t want to do it. Its mostly fear. Fear of threads bleeding, or the piece reshaping. These are founded fears as well; threads do occasionally bleed, and threads of poor quality will bleed a lot more. Aida returns to its original shape when washing, and can sometimes tighten threads (again, mostly those of poor quality). As a result, washing can seem like a crazy thing to do if you’ve just stitched for 100 hours.
The thing is, you’ll find loads of people online who have never washed their cross stitch, and they’ve been doing it for 40 years. I’m yet to see any proof, but I honestly believe them. If your hands are well washed, you come from a smoke and pet free home, and you only work with high-quality materials, there is no reason to suggest your cross stitch is dirty.
Does that mean you shouldn’t wash it though?
The case for ALWAYS washing it
Fingers are dirty. The air is dusty. Accident’s happen. There are loads of reasons why your cross stitch might be dirty, and as a result, washing it removes all of that. Not only that but ironing it afterward will stop the dirt from getting worse.
I personally, always wash my cross stitch. And that is a direct result of two cross stitches I did when I was learning when I didn’t wash them.
The first is a retro trio cross stitch that I have simply never washed. I was worried that the threads might bleed (I’ve since checked, and even cheap threads don’t bleed). As time went on, and the sun took its toll, brown spots appeared. I’ve tried washing these out, but I can’t, these are permanent.
The second horror story, is my second ever cross stitch, my Fire ‘n’ Ice cross stitch. In this one, I made a different mistake; I didn’t clean my hands when stitching. There are now, LOADS of brown spots.
OK, both of these could have been improved had I framed my cross stitch properly, but the marks would come eventually. I’ve since learned my lesson on why you should both wash your hands, and your cross stitch, but even if you do, stains might come afterward.
I’ve tried to remove cross stitch stains before, and I can tell you it is a LOT easier when it has been ironed.
Wash or not wash?
So, I guess the answer is “probably”. Washing your cross stitch will significantly help reduce issues, and will mean its easier to clean in the future. However, if you’re 100% sure your hands were clean, and you aren’t too invested in keeping your cross stitches for the future, you don’t have to wash them.
But from personal experience; I always do.
As an independent website, we don’t promote one brand over another, however today we’re making a slight exception. Not due to the fact that one brand is better, but there only appears to be one brand. In fact, it appears the tool I want to talk about today seems to be very niche; however, I think they’re one of the best things any cross stitcher can get.
Without beating around the bush anymore, I want to talk about Canary mini snips. These little things are super tiny scissors, which you use with the tips of your fingers, instead of pushing your fingers through the hoop handles of a standard pair of scissors.
You may know that I’m a big fan of getting the perfect scissors for you however these little scissors might just be my all-time favorites. As small snips, they are perfect for thread cutting, they don’t take up much space, you don’t have to fiddle with finding the hoops and getting the proper control. You can pick these up and make a snip and put them back before even getting a normal pair of scissors ready. However, their excellence doesn’t end there. They’re round-tipped, meaning you won’t stab yourself, they can be attached to keychains or put into a travel cross stitch kit, and as the blades are super tiny, they’re fully safe scissors to fly with.
It also helps that you can pick them up for under $10.
You can pick up a pair on Etsy.com in a variety of styles