Adventures in Cross Stitching

It seems that when I start a new hobby, I don’t just dabble in it; I jump into the deep end.

I’ve been really flinging myself into cross stitch. I find it’s easy to pick up and put down, I can work on it while I watch TV, and it’s fairly easy for me to work on it during slow times at work. The only part I’m still working on is easily packing up the things I need to take them back and forth.

But as of now, I’ve only bought one pattern, and it was because I just wanted a single element for my next surprise project.

I really enjoy making patterns, though usually it’s more cobbling together patterns. I’ve found that perler bead patterns work extremely well for cross stitch. The program I use, PCStitch, lets me make font patterns with nearly all of the fonts on my computer. Since I’m a bit of a font enthusiast (windows says I have over 1,200 fonts) this is fun and sometimes time consuming.

My most complex finished cross stitch is the Godzilla one I made for a friend’s birthday. He’s a bit of a Godzilla fan (I’m fairly sure he owns every movie made, a couple of them twice because of bonus features).

If I was to make it again, I would have put more space between 'zilla and the text
If I was to make it again, I would have put more space between ‘zilla and the text

The hardest part about old ‘Zilla there was keeping it a secret and keeping proper count. I messed up on the tail and the chest so I had to rip out and redo those.

I started with using paper patterns, but I found that transporting them back and forth and putting them somewhere I could see only worked so well before they were beat up. I also couldn’t figure out where the pattern overlapped between page one and two, which caused a slight miscount. Frustrated, I made a PDF pattern that was just one page and used my tablet to open them. I’m able to zoom in and out and move the pattern around and only transport something I already bring with me. With bigger patterns it will still require multiple pages on the pdf, but for ones 8×10 or smaller, it works just perfect.

I haven’t yet figured out if I like any floss brand over another. I’ve picked up quite a few bundles at thrift stores and gotten a few as “This person doesn’t want these anymore, here” gifts, so I have all sorts of colors and brands. I’ve found I like using the loop method, where you use one long piece of floss and double it over before threading the two cut ends onto the needle. Then to secure the stitch, you run the thread through the loop. I find it a lot cleaner and easier than securing cut ends under one of the stitches.

When I first started on a whim, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I found a tutorial that told me ‘2 strands, this is how you anchor it, always cross them the same way’.

Surprisingly, I haven’t made any other Zelda projects after my first trial one. I’ll have to change that once I figure out a pattern.

Hylian Shield and Master Sword

I also started by working in complete rows, which left a lot of extra thread on the back between letters. By Godzilla, I figured out how to work along with the shapes and order things so it used the least amount of extra thread.

A repeating quote from The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearn
A repeating quote from The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

I also learned to never count more than about 20 stitches at a time. Less than 10 is even better. More than that and my eyes go cross-eyed and I miscount and I have to rip stitches and start over while swearing.

I’ve also found that I hate hoop rings. I’ll use them if it’s all that I have, but most of my projects are a square … and my working area is a circle. I have a scroll frame that I haven’t tried much yet; I wasn’t able to get it tight enough for the project I was working on so I grabbed one of the disliked hoops instead. I prefer the square plastic ones that sort of resemble PVC pipe. I only own two and I work on at least 3 projects at a time (HUGE INSANE project for my husband, Public sharable project and Private Surprise Project), so sometimes I have to use the hoops. I prefer the non-slip hoops (they have a groove to hold the fabric), but they are really difficult to get to stay on the first time, especially when the cross stitch fabric is extremely stiff.

A Dresden Files Quote from Butters in Dead Beat.
A Dresden Files Quote from Butters in Dead Beat.

One problem I haven’t found a solution to is the needles and thread. I have a tendency to lick the end of the threads to get them through the needle, which causes them to rust. I’ll also hold needles in my mouth while I’m doing things, which discolors and rusts them and will eventually discolor my lips. I also am constantly misplacing my needles and scissors. I’ll have to get creative and figure something out.

The part thus far that frustrates me the most is the framing part. I don’t trust taking it to a framing shop (I spent *how* many hours on this and you want me to hand it over with the possibility you’ll ruin it!?) and there are just so many options for pre-fab frames. It’s the least fun part for me, which is why my latest finished project is still floating around, unwashed, unironed, and unframed.

Harry Dresden and the Elder Gruff's conversation from Small Favor
Harry Dresden and the Elder Gruff’s conversation from Small Favor

Now to finish the pattern for SUPER SECRET PROJECT and figure out a new public project. And figure out where I misplaced my square frame. I know it’s here somewhere!