Monday, 11 February 2013

Adventures in Needlework: Cross Stitch

Having found myself in the very lucky position of  weeks of enforced crafting I thought that now I can make it upstairs unaided to get to the computer at last I couldn't miss this opportunity of showing you my handiwork. Now of course there has been a HUGE amount of quilt - based craftiness in my blog absence, but at the risk of tipping into 'bus mans holiday' territory I thought I'd better use this opportunity ( I had  ankle reconstruction surgery to finally mend my summer foot/rabbit hole injury over Xmas that means I'm in plaster and CAM boot, on crutches, for the foreseeable!) to try my hand at something new. Someone said to me that the best discipline as a teacher of one craft - is become a student of another!

Its no secret that I love to sew, I especially love to hand sew so I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. With this end in mind I lined myself up the wonderful Wintery Cross Stitch project above for my winter time convalescence. I had planned that this would last me most of the 12 weeks, but I had not factored in the LOVE element! Now if you're an aficionado of cross stitch, do forgive my beginners explanation - but for those of you new to it like me, there were some crucial differences within cross stitch that I had failed to grasp in the past, and had kind of put me off a bit trying it.

About 2 years ago I came across the wonderful Emily Peacock who designs really modern fantastic cross stitch canvasses and splurged on this wonderful kit to join in with a MakeClub friend who was making one. I was so excited. The kit is counted cross stitch, which means that you 'count' the pattern from a coded chart onto a plain canvas. The background is a stiff woven canvas with regular 'holes' where you make your crossed stitches. You use wool as your 'thread'. The whole picture is made up of stitches, including the background so that in the finished piece no canvas is seen. These kind of kits are sometimes called Tapestry kits, NeedlePoint or counted cross stitch.

Unfortunately when it came to cross stitch on canvas I just wasn't feeling the love.

You see it was all just a bit, and I know this sounds absurd, but, well, scratchy! Anyway, I gave up :( and the very expensive kit has just eyed me dolefully from across my sitting room ever since! Cross Stitch and I just couldn't get along as far as I was concerned.

Then I saw this Winterwoods sampler made by the wonderful Alicia Paulson, it was love at first sight. I ordered the pattern, ordered the linen background and the threads and waited in excited anticipation! I even made myself a set of special quilted storage pouches for my new 'stuff' ( sad!). When everything came I laid it out, sort of looked again, this time without my craft love goggles, and  started to read about how I would go about actually MAKING it. I confess i made that kind of scooby doo noise of confusion - doh! I don't know quite what I was expecting, but it wasn't this!  Gorgeous shimmering embroidery thread, wonderful smoky pearl coloured fine linen - now this was my kind of thing! After a slight melt down 5 hours after coming out of surgery with both feet suspended in the air and a drip in my hand, dosed to the eyeballs on morphine i could not understand how i was supposed to cross over two thread of the linen ( probably not the time to begin your first cross stitch on even weave project, friends!) I was away!

Ok, so again apologies if this is obvious to everyone else but this was all new news to me. This kind of cross stitch uses an 'evenweave' fabric as its base. This is a fabric that has been specially woven to have an even amount and spacing of threads. This allows you to count the warp and weft threads to make even sized stitches and to follow a chart to figure out where to put your stitches. Now it sounds a bit scary, and the first hour was a bit, well, squinty! But as soon as you get your eye in you are away and you stop noticing the need to squint and count! Gracious this is not painting a good picture of me in your imaginations when you factor in the noticeable limp along with the squint and random muttering!

I have just finished the Winterwoods sampler and its gone to Mel to be framed and I've managed to acquire a whole box of wonderful embroidery threads and have leapt feet first into a new sampler from Etsy company Modern Folk. It requires you to choose your own  colours which is very exciting, I'll get some pics to share soon. Next time in Adventures in Needlework i'll share some fledgeling love for Crewelwork!