Archive for the ‘Needlework’ Category

Stamped vs Counted Cross Stitch

Cross-stitch beginners usually come across two types of kits: stamped and counted. The latter is more common, but the outcomes are essentially the same, with x-shaped stitches creating a pattern on the cloth. There is some debate on whether counted or stamped patterns are better, but like any other craft, it all boils down to personal preference.

Stamped cross-stitch kits have the patter printed onto the fabric itself, so that you only have to stitch in the colours indicated. In counted cross-stitch, the pattern is printed on a separate sheet of paper, leaving the fabric blank. This means that you have to count the squares yourself to see where each stitch goes. Most people also start stitching from the center of the pattern to make sure there’s equal room on both sides to frame the design. This, of course, calls for even more detailed counting.

Needless to say, stamped cross-stitch is easier and simpler, making it a more popular choice for beginners. You don’t have to count from the center of the pattern; you can get start stitching right away. The catch is that stamped kits don’t usually carry as much detail as counted cross-stitch. Squares have to be bigger for the stamps to be visible, which means you don’t get as much colour variation or fine gradients as you would with a counted pattern. Counted cross-stitch kits allow for higher-count fabric—that is, more stitches per square inch—so you can work in small details and use a wider range of colours. Finished products also come in a broader selection of sizes in counted cross-stitch patterns.

A finished counted cross-stitch project can have enough detail to resemble a painting; many people have them framed and put on walls. Stamped cross-stitch patterns are usually more of the ornamental kind, such as tablecloth borders, throw pillow cases, and placemats. Stamped cross-stitch also isn’t limited to Aida cloth, the square-weave fabric commonly used in emroidery. Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule—you can find a good variety of patterns across both types.

Most people start of with stamped cross-stitch and then move up to counted patterns as they get more experience. Others opt to take a break from complex projects with simpler ones, or simply have no preference. If you’re starting out, you may want to start simple, but it’s always good to leave room for change and try out both types before making your choice.

Needlepoint Christmas Stockings

Few things can raise the holiday spirit better than a candy-filled stocking on Christmas day. It’s one of the few traditions that transcend age; whether you’re five or fifty, Christmas stockings are sure to bring a smile to your face. They’ve become iconic even in cultures where they’re not traditional. And if you want to give something that really touches the heart, you can’t go wrong with handmade needlepoint Christmas stockings.

Many people find needlepoint designs too complicated for a first project, or aren’t sure their work is good enough to give away. But Christmas stockings can go either way: you can find designs you can probably do on your first day of learning, and those that take years of practice to master. Most of the time, it’s really just a matter of finding the right design.

Start by looking for Christmas stocking kits at your local craft store, if you don’t have supplies yet. Most of them will include the stocking fabric, threads and needles, and a pattern with detailed instructions. Some will even include a few spares to make room for mistakes, or a variety of patterns you can choose from. If you’re a bit more advanced, you can tweak the design as you please, but you can usually get good results just sticking to the original pattern.

You can also create your own design, of course, but this will take a lot more time. One of the first steps is deciding on the size of the stocking, and after that, the fabric size—most needle point projects use 13 or more, but that can vary depending on your specifics. You can then cut out the pattern from both the cross-stitch fabric and whatever you’re using for the back, lining and trim. Once you’ve got your pieces, you can incorporate your design into it, whether by hand or using a computer program. Then you can choose your thread colors, buy the threads if you need them, and get started.

For some people, this process can take months, so you’ll need to start early if you want your stocking in time for Christmas. Most experts recommend starting at least three months in advance and working on it at least an hour a day. This will give you enough time to choose your design, create your pattern, and shop for supplies—and do things over in case you slip up or change your mind.