When I was a kid, my mom taught me how to cross stitch. She has been avid stitcher for as long as I can remember, and as many young girls would say about their moms, I wanted to be just like her.
This is neither me, nor my mom. But I was pretty young when I first learned. You get the idea:
|[Image by Squiggle via Flickr used under CC]|
I was never a great cross stitcher. Sure, I completed a few small projects. I struggled through but eventually learned how to do half stitches, french knots, and backstitches. I even did a few lazy daisy stitches here and there. But my real problem is that I would get way too ambitious with projects. I had my mom's whole arsenal of DMC floss to keep me going, but the problem was never lack of supplies. It was choosing some large scale super involved pattern that I would burn out on after awhile because it just took TOO LONG. The problem is, the small projects never satisfied me. Sure, I could actually complete them, but it was pretty clear that they were rather simple. "Something anyone could do," I would think to myself.
What I didn't realize back then, is that while I might not have had the interest/endurance for large scale cross stitch, some seeds had been planted in me. Seeds of enjoyment and delight in tiny stitches. While my mom did not raise me on a sewing machine, I do believe that she was the one who really inspired my love of working with fabric and thread.
|[Image by Audrey B. via Flickr used under CC]|
Over this past winter, I did a bit more experimentation with hand stitching. I think I've realized that the key for me is a simple project that has enough variety that I don't get bored, but not so much stitch counting and chart reading that I completely punk out on the project.
A couple of things I discovered as I went on a little stitch odyssey over the last 6 months.
- Fabri-Solvy. This I actually learned about from my friend, Larissa, and I am OBSESSED with it. Basically, make/find your design on the computer, print it out on a sheet of this stuff, and you can peel it off and place it on your fabric like a sticker. Your stitching is precise, you don't have to draw on your fabric with anything, and when you're done you can just stick it in some warm water and dissolve it away. POOF. It is seriously awesome, guys.
- Working with a lot of colors is great, but the constant thread switching can get tedious after awhile. If you want to make sure you actually finish a project, consider starting with something you can do all in one color. You can even cut up a bunch of floss and thread a bunch of needles before you start so you don't have to stop and re-thread as often. Redwork is a place to start, but really any design you find appealing that you can imagine in one color would work.
- I don't know a lot about embroidery, really, but my feeling is that it is a lot more freestyle than cross stitch. If you use the Fabri-Solvy you can ditch the idea that you need a chart and just stitch away. You never lose your place, you don't have to count, and it is easy to watch whole seasons of Dr. Who (which you somehow never realized you would completely love if you would only give it a chance) while you work on your project.
- Rocksea. Just remember Rocksea. Get lost in tutorials of just about every stitch you could ever dream of. If you want one less screen in front of you while you work, but would like a reference, Mollie Makes Embroidery was a book I got out of the library that had some good basic stitches in it which was nice to have next me as I stitched along. I'm looking into some more comprehensive possibilities I could add to my sewing library that would help me expand my embroidered horizons. Based on the reviews, Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Embroidered Stitches looks like it might be a winner, but I've never actually used it before.