Enjoying a process as you work towards something beautiful is what all crafters strive for, and once you get the hang of it, cross stitch is one of the most relaxing and mindful crafts you can do! Everyone has to start somewhere though, and even the most seasoned cross stitcher is always learning something new! The amount of stitchers that I met at the Make & Mend festival that had never heard of a needleminder was amazing, particularly given how much of a life saver these little tools are!
So I have come up with my top tips (and one from the tribe!) that can help to turn cross stitch from something tricky and fiddly to something truly relaxing. I have loads of tips though so I've split this into 2 parts! Hope you find it helpful and if you have any tips you would like to add, please pop them in the comments section!
1. Pick and prepare your stitchy spot carefully!
Make sure to be situated somewhere comfortable where you have good (preferably natural) light behind you (see pic above of my stitchy corner). This helps you see what you're doing and avoids eye strain. You can also make it easier to see the holes in the aida by having something of the opposite colour behind your stitching. For example, if you're stitching on white aida, pop a dark coloured blanket on your knee. Click on the pictures below to see the difference a dark background can make behind white aida!
Note - the pattern I've completed above is completely random and just for visualisation purposes!
2. Gather the right tools at the beginning!
Cross stitch is one of those things that is difficult to do with regular interruptions, so if you're having to regularly stop what you're doing to go find the scissors, struggle to thread a needle, or find a missing needle, this can disrupt your stream of concentration. So before you even start your stitchy session, make sure you have at hand all the tools that will make your life easier - I would suggest a embroidery hoop to help you hold and manage the fabric, a sharp pair of embroidery scissors to make snipping spare ends a doddle, a needle threader to help you thread your needle quickly, and a needleminder to make sure your needle doesn't keep disappearing down the side of the sofa!
3. Start with a loop start!
This avoids having a knot and thread tails to contend with on the back of your work. Instead you have just a tidy little anchor. (see pic) For more details on how to do a loop start, check out my 'How to get started with your cross stitch kit' blog.
4. Fully cross every 10th stitch on a line.
If you have a long line of the same colour to stitch and are worried about losing count, make every 10th stitch into a full cross as you go, while leaving the others as half stitches until you head back along the row again (see pic below).
Note - the pattern I've completed above is completely random and just to for visualisation purposes!
5. Avoid metallic threads at all costs!
I'm partially joking here! Metallic threads are VERY difficult to stitch with so I just avoid them completely, however they can bring a nice bit of sparkle to a project. So if you do fancy giving them a try, I would recommend using threadgloss, a natural thread conditioner often made of beeswax, such as that made by Threadjoy.
Tips from the tribe!
Everyone is always learning, including me, so I asked the TSK tribe for their tips. This week we have a tip from Rachel....
"I fold my fabric in half then into quarters and then
sew the vertical and horizontal axis."
This is a great tip as it means you always have an easy point of reference to check the positioning of your stitches!
I'd love to hear in the comments if these tips have been helpful. Also as I said I have loads of tips so I will be creating part 2 of this blog in the coming weeks!