This is what I’m stitching at the moment – the Lavender and Lace ‘Celtic Spring’ cross stitch design.
I thought I’d explain this week about how I tackle large cross stitch projects such as this one, as I think that being organised makes it much easier to attempt a design this big (it’s about 18 inches high by 9 inches across on 28 count fabric, just for the stitched area, and the Autumn one in the same series took me about 90 hours of stitching).
With a design this big, I always use a rectangular rotating frame to mount the fabric on – it keeps the fabric taut (very important when I get to the stage of adding the beads), and it means that I can rest the frame comfortably on my Stitchmaster floor frame, so that I am in a comfortable position while I’m doing all that stitching!
I’ve been getting very committed to doing at least a couple of hours on this each evening, and if I tried to do that with the fabric in a hoop, holding it with my left hand and stitching with my right, I’d have a frozen shoulder by now, and my chiropractor would be telling me off!
You can see from this image that I have scanned in the chart and printed it out onto white paper (the original chart is a large piece of beige paper), and I’ve then coloured in the page with coloured pencils. To my brain, it’s easier to tell different colours apart than different black and white symbols.
I have several needle minders holding down the chart paper – not because they’re necessary, really, but because I love needle minders!
The ‘grime guard’ along the bottom edge is an elasticated rectangle of fabric with casings made along each long edge, with elastic threaded through in one loop, so that I can hook the ends of the elastic over the vertical bars of the frame and protect the bottom roller from any dirt while I’m working on the cross stitch.
What really saves me a lot of time when I’m working on a piece of embroidery with many colours is that I use one needle per colour – so I use one of these, which is a LoRan needle holder – a plastic triangle (like a Toblerone!), with a foam centre to poke the needles into, and a removable paper strip that has the black and white symbols for this project drawn on. You get about a dozen strips with the needle holder, and refills are available too, but if you’re careful you can rub the symbols out and re-use the strips a couple of times, as they’re made from quite sturdy card.
You can just about see that towards the left hand end of the bottom row there is a yellow pearl-headed pin – I use this to mark the place of the needle that I’m using at the moment, so that I know where to replace the needle when I’m finished stitching (when shades are similar, it’s easy to get confused!).
I keep all my skeins in this – my lovely embroidered workbox. I did the stitching for this about twenty years ago, and my husband made the box. I love using this! It’s about ten inches by seven by three – big enough to keep whole skeins in, plus scissors, etc.
This is it when it’s open. Very simple inside – I didn’t want lots of compartments that nothing really fitted into – just one space.
If you’re REALLY OLD, you might recognise what I keep my supply of tapestry needles in – it’s a black and green plastic canister for 35mm film, for a very old camera! I’ve never found anything better than that for my needles ….
When I start a large project, I also make cards listing the shade name, number, and add a tuft of the thread so that I can cross-check this with the skeins I’m choosing.
Of course, I also need some embroidery scissors! I’m kind of addicted to buying scissors, so with each new project that I start, I exchange my scissors for a different pair from my collection. I bought these ones from Mace and Nairn, about five years ago. The scissor fob is from the Carolyn Pearce ‘Home Sweet Home Workbox’ project that I described on here a couple of years ago as I made it.
So, that’s all the stuff I use…how about you? What can you ‘not do without’ when you’re stitching?