Wednesday 5 April 2017

World Craft Week 2017: Cross stitch

This week for World Craft Week I am looking back at all the crafting activities I have enjoyed over the years. Today it's cross stitch.

The walls of my parents' house is evidence of my love of cross stitch: most walls feature a design stitched by me. I started cross stitch very early, possibly as young as three or four, using binca (aida cloth with 6 stitches to the inch), brightly coloured embroidery threads and no pattern. My Mum really encouraged me in this - she has always been creative and has a huge stash of craft materials, which I had pretty free access to. At this point my sewing was more crazy freehand embroidery than cross stitch, but my skills and patience developed quickly and I was soon following charts and creating little pictures.

I carried on cross stitching (and raiding my mum's craft supplies) for many years, with the fabrics getting finer and my ambition increasing. Every year I would request a cross stitch kit, often Country Companions hedgehogs, which I loved doing in spite of their slightly faffy variegated spines. My favourite designs required using only whole stitches - I never really enjoyed making quarter and three quarter stitches as they slowed me down - and I never enjoyed backstitch. I did try evenweave (around 28 strands per inch, with crosses worked over two strands), but it made my eyes hurt!

My mum used to buy a lot of cross stitch magazines, and each one came with a small kit for a card, needle case, or gift tag and I worked my way through all of those, enjoying the speed at which I could create a finished object. I didn't always have uses for the items, so we occasionally had a stand at a craft fair to sell some of the items on.

Once I'd exhausted the supply of kits I started designing my own cross stitch charts. My favourite images were based on the Bang on the Door characters, whose bold black outlines suited the pixilated nature of cross stitch. Had it been as easy to create and sell cross stitch designs as it is now, I may have gone down the cross stitch route over the knitting route for longer, but one day I stopped as I had run out of wall space!

I haven't done any cross stitch in well over ten years. While I enjoy it - the repeated motions are very therapeutic - there really are only so many ways to use the items you've stitched, and my parents have enough of my cross stitch cushion covers and pictures to last a lifetime. I have a few pieces that still need framing (I stitched the Winnie the Pooh picture at least ten years ago!), which I might get round to one day.

To be framed, ten years on...

Last year while I was in Hobbycraft I did briefly entertain the idea of doing some more cross stitch and bought a kit for a festive design to be mounted in a hoop. I ran out of time to do it before last Christmas, but think I probably will of it for this year. 

A nice quick project when I fancy it

Have you ever done cross stitch? What have you done with the finished pieces?


  1. Oh that's so interesting. Like you I started cross stitch- or at least some form of pictorial needlecraft, tapestry perhaps- very young. There's a very interesting story there about the urge to create actually. I too drew my own charts. The last big thing I did was a sampler, 10 years ago, but just before Christmas I bought an embroidery kit on a whim. My, did I enjoy it!! (All backstitch I'm afraid...)

    1. I've always created, but the medium has changed with time. I used to paint too, but I can't remember the last time! Sewing's a great one to do with kids; you can do something, even if it's not following a design. My daughter has already started tapestry at 2 and a half, but can only manage a few stitches at a time.

      I might return to cross stitch one day, it was really therapeutic - a useful relaxation aid during exams.

  2. Oh my goodness I loved the Bang on the Door characters! I remember a blue pencil case. Actually, thinking about it, I think you have the same pencil case in your living room with pens/knitting stuff in. Am I right?

    1. I have a green 'happy' one in my living room. I might made a 'sleepy' duvet cover for the textiles GCSE final project - I'm pretty sure mum still has it!