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The wonderful world of cross stitch-Part 1

So as I promised in the previous post here I am revealing all the secrets that this mysterious hobby called cross stitch has to offer and more importantly I will show you how you can use it to create wonderful hand decorated items you can use every day, after all, that is our main love. So what is cross stitching? It's something where you get to stab something thousands of times without being arrested. ( Talk about stress relief.) On a bit more serious note, it's exactly what it sounds. It's a type of embroidery where you create tiny x shaped stitches until they form the design. The things you can decorate with cross stitch? Pretty much everything! The most common perhaps is still stitching a picture then framing it, but there's so much more you can do with cross stitching! We have tote bags, backpacks, baseball cap, bookmarks and we continuously adding new items to our stitchable kits. There's also an abundance of designs out there, you're sure to be able to find whatever takes your fancy, whether it be something cute, funny, modern, traditional, sophisticated, crazy,  flowers and so on.

Are you totally new to cross stitching? Don't be afraid! I show you everything!

Let's start with what you would need: 1., Fabric to stitch on 2., Floss to stitch with 3., Needle 4., Pattern to follow 5., Pair of scissors

The fabric

The most commonly used fabric is Aida cloth, which is an open, even-weave fabric that has a natural mesh that facilitates cross-stitching. Aida cloth is manufactured with various size spaces or holes between the warp and weft to accommodate different thicknesses of floss. These are described by the count. For example, a 10-count aida cloth would have 10 squares per linear inch. These little, evenly spaced holes will ensure that all of your stitches are the same size, allowing you to stitch something beautiful even at the first time! Typical sizes are 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, and 28 count, ranked from the coarsest to the finest count. Perhaps we can say that 14 count aida is the most commonly used for general projects.

The magic ingredient we use is an other type of material though called waste canvas. Waste canvas is made up of woven threads that are held together with a type of starch, which dissolves when wet. It works a bit like a template, guiding you where to put your stitches when the fabric you are stitching on doesn't have an evenly woven grid of holes to use. This enables us to create a wonderful range of items, just by cross stitching.

The floss

The floss that is most commonly used for cross stitching is called stranded cotton thread.The 2 most popular brands that you'll find pretty much everywhere are DMC and Anchor. You will either find these by skeins if you buy your own or loaded onto a thread organiser if you buy a kit. Every colour has a number for easier identification and on thread organisers you'll also find a symbol assigned to that colour.

Needle

The basic needle you would use for cross stitching on aida is called the tapestry needle, which is a blunt tipped sewing needle with a big eye, that allows to hold multiple strands of floss. They come in different sizes and you would choose the size of the needle depending on the size of the fabric you use and how many strands of thread it should accommodate. For example to work on a 14 count fabric with 2 strands of floss a size 24 tapestry needle is generally used.

An other type of needle we're using in our ready to cross stitch kits is Crewel needle. It's a very sharp embroidery needle that allows you to pierce through any fabric with ease while have the same big eye as tapestry needle to use multiple strands of floss.

The pattern

A cross stitch pattern or chart is a printed sheet of checked paper showing your design stitch by stitch and also the so called design key. Each square on the pattern equals one aida block on your fabric. One square that is occupied by a single symbol represents one full stitch and there could also be fractionals (3/4 and 1/4 stitches), backstitching and other specialty stitches. ( For now we leave specialty stitches.) An empty square means you should leave that area blank. You'll also notice an arrow on the top, bottom and side of the page, these show you where the centre of the pattern is, this is where you should be starting your stitching, so to ensure your work will be centred on the fabric as well. Next to or below the pattern itself you will also see a design key, which includes any necessary information for your pattern: the design symbols and the corresponding floss numbers, how many strands of floss you need to use for each type of stitch and there's usually some information about the design size too.

Scissors

A pair of small, sharp embroidery scissors is preferred but virtually any scissors will do the trick.

Well, that's all the basics you need to know about cross stitching. Oh, wait what? How to actually do the stitches? I hear you. I'm back shortly with a very detailed post and lots of photos to show you how to complete a full cross stitch project, also showing you how easy it is to use waste canvas.

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