Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for ...Well, I think I'm stretching this one...

Cross-stitch!! Also known as X-stitch, so I know for sure I am stretching this blog to fit my purposes, but it works!

I have always said that cross-stitch is an adult version of color-by-number. You have a color coded pattern to follow in order to create something beautiful. But like anything, you can cheat.

Embellished cross-stitch patterns have the background stamped onto it and all you have to worry about is finishing the details. In my opinion, humble as it is, this is cheating. Whenever I see embellished cross-stitch patterns I just want to take a strong flame to them! They are easier, less work to do, and cheating.

I much prefer the counted cross-stitch patterns. A blank canvas that calls to be given life with strings of color. Yes, it is much harder and if you miscount...well, just don't. Hm, if you do, then the cross-stitch definitely becomes an individual work of art. Which, if you think about it, each one is a work of art: hairs get caught in the thread, dirt rubs off of hands and slightly distorts the coloration of the string, and even some food and drink becomes spilled onto the material. Thank goodness it can be washed!

I have discovered that I am truly gifted at cross-stitch. Not only can I follow patterns to have elaborate works of art, but I can create my own! I can cross-stitch without a pattern (free-lance, if you will). Once I have finished, I frame them and either sell them or give them away as gifts.

In all my time of doing these projects I have learned a few things that I would like to share with others either starting out or merely interested:

~Wash the threads BEFORE you use them in your cross-stitch! The instructions say to do this and it is for a reason! I made the mistake of not doing this for a Civil War cross-stitch, and when I washed it after it was completed to get the dirt out the colors ran! That was several years ago and I am still embarrassed! My buyer still purchased the completed, framed work, but it took many painstaking hours of carefully taking gentle stain cleaners to reduce the damage. It is hard to see the mistake now unless you know exactly where to look--but I know!

~When washing the thread or the completed work, Woolite is your friend! Use cold water, a little Woolite, and hand a sink...with your own hands. The string will fray any other way, and the completed work might be damaged beyond repair if you are not gentle with it.

~Dry threads and completed cross-stitch by gently rolling it into individual towels. Rolling it keeps it from creasing and the towels not only absorb the water, but if the threads are determined to run their color, it will keep it from getting on the other threads.

~Be flexible! If you miscount, which will happen at one point, be able to flex with it and fix it on your own. If it does not completely, 100% match the structured pattern, who cares? Most of the time others cannot tell if you strayed, and the slight difference makes it uniquely your own.

If I can figure out how to do so, I will include some samples of what I have done with brief descriptions. The main thing to remember? Have fun!

This is the one I am working on now. I am nearly done. I still have to finish the grass and all the detailing. Then I will start on my work of art: a huge cross-stitch that depicts ladies from the Civil War in their hoop skirts! (Very excited to start that one!)

I did this one for my best friend when she got married. This was the first cross-stitch I ever completed that it had alternate patterns included so you could make it even more suited for who you were doing it for!

Here is the Civil War cross-stitch I did, called 'Gettysburg'. I do not have any actual pictures of the completed one since it ran the colors:

This is what I did for my daughter when she was born. It was great fun to work on this as she grew inside me, knowing that I was creating something for her to keep!

I have many more projects completed and many more I have waiting to do. I love to cross-stitch!


  1. Those are absolutely beautiful. I have no talent in this direction whatsoever so I have great respect for those who do.

  2. I remember your Civil War cross stitch when we were at our play rehearsals. It looked amazing and complicated at the same time!