Tag Archives: cross stitch

Embroidery 2021

Last year I embroidered two cross stitch pieces, and two embroidered designs from kits.

I already showed you the California and New York state pieces in this post: Little State Samplers Cross Stitch. I didn’t want to just store them in a drawer for years, so I set about to frame them myself.

I bought two 5 x 7 mounting boards, marked the pieces, and used a pretty tape.

The finished samplers in their dollar frames:

Not bad.

I received this Hawthorne botanical themed embroidery kit as a gift.

It contained an insert with illustrations of many stitches. I enjoyed the variety of stitches used to complete this design. My favorite was the fly stitch for the feathery leaf. I added some additional colors for interest. I have two shoebox size plastic bins of floss to choose from.

Why use a kit? The hardest part of creating free form embroidery is getting started and transferring a design; with a kit it is more likely that a design will be actually stitched.

For taking part in an Instagram sewing challenge, I won a voucher to Rocco-Sienna’s embroidery shop.

I chose a cute little alpaca (or llama) design, and a little scissor set, which is not part of the embroidery kit.

I hesitated on choosing this one because I thought I would get tired of embroidering so many French knots, but I enjoyed making them.

Both of these kits came with hoops. I always consider making something out of embroidered pieces like a little pillow or ornament as an alternative but these remain hooped.

Little State Samplers Cross Stitch

I came across one of the Little States Samplers by Alma Lynne on Ebay, and then bought a second state as a companion piece. The two states I chose were California and New York. California is where I live, and New York was where I was born. The finished size of the designs are 4-1/8 by 5-3/4 inches when stitched on 14 count fabric which will fit nicely in a 5×7 frame. I stitched them on oatmeal colored Aida.

New York snagged the best symbols: the state bird is the bluebird, the state flower is the rose, and the state insect is the nine-spotted ladybug. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a state bug, but the ladybug is about as lovable as a bug gets. I liked this design, and stitched it as written with few changes. I used floss I already had, and didn’t use the exact colors as charted. I just looked at the photo and chose similar shades.

There were a large number of partial stitches which made the chart hard to follow. For the rose, I stitched the outline first and then filled in with 3 or 4 different shades of the same color. The blue leaves were the result of not being able to tell colors apart when stitching at night.

The California grizzly bear is on the state flag, and is the state animal. I liked the bear design, but not the collar and bib. That’s just wrong for a wild bear, and suggested captivity which is sad. The grizzly is a type of brown bear, and has been extinct in California since 1924.

Our state flower is the California poppy which bloom in March and April. I have photographed them many times.

I thought the poppies were too small and simplistic in the design, so I redesigned that as well. With the bear and the poppies as the only motifs besides the grapes at the top, I felt the design was lacking. The state bird is the California quail which wouldn’t be recognizable as a small cross stitch, so I can see why it wasn’t included. I got out my very old graph paper and tried to come up with something. I had never done this before and enjoyed the challenge and the creative process.

I sketched a pan of gold, but had trouble making it look appealing. Eureka is our state motto which means “I have found it” referring to the discovery of gold in 1848 leading to the gold rush of ’49. I settled on a mission bell tower and a wave as my motifs.

The wave represents California’s 840 miles of scenic Pacific coastline. California is also known for its 21 Spanish missions. The first, established in 1769, Mission San Diego de Alcala, is the inspiration for the bell tower design I created.

I haven’t framed these two pieces yet. Because they are so small, I will probably display them on a shelf.

Embroidery Love

Bluebird on Linen

Embroidery was my first stitching experience.   I started as a child with lacing cards with holes in them and a big blunt needle. Does that count?  It was also the one craft my mother dabbled in when she was young, embroidering the stamped linens that were popular at the time.

I have mostly enjoyed free hand embroidery, especially crewel embroidery, which is worked with tapestry wool on linen, although I have also tried counted cross stitch on aida cloth.   What I like about free hand embroidery is the variety of interesting stitches and that it’s quicker than cross stitch.  What I like about counted cross stitch is that it has a unique, precise look that works well with traditional motifs such as samplers.

As much as I love stitching embroidery, the dilemma for me is – what do you do with it?  After you’ve made a wall hanging and a pillow, then what?  Some other ideas are decorating clothes, towels, curtains, pillowcases, or tablecloths; an embroidered panel in patchwork; ornaments, especially Christmas ornaments; and using embroidered cloth in little sewing projects such as pouches.

When the weather was very hot, my interest turned to embroidery again.  Unexpectedly, I became interested in counted cross stitch which I had previously thought was a bit monotonous and unimaginative.

Strawberry on Aida

flower on aida coaster

When searching for more information on cross stitch, I found out that aida or fiddlers cloth, which is composed of squares surrounded by four little holes, is usually used by beginners or the casual stitcher, and that evenweave linen is often favored by dedicated cross stitchers seeking to create timeless heirlooms.

I bought a 28 count evenweave Irish linen to give it a try.  This linen has a more open weave than the linen I have used for crewel, and each cross stitch is worked over two threads. The stitch size will be the same as on the 14 count aida cloth I used in the two pieces shown above. Oh, my – this is hard!  I couldn’t see what I was doing; my first attempt came out  wrong.  Some of the time I was catching three threads instead of two.  On my second try I had to get a magnifying glass to count the threads. The look is beautiful, but do I love it enough to struggle through to completion when it’s so much easier and more enjoyable to use aida cloth?  I don’t think so – at least not very often.  Maybe getting reading glasses would help.  But with some patience, and a big magnifying glass hanging from my neck, I completed my first small motif using this fabric.

Snowflake on 28 count Linen

If you’d like to stitch these motifs, or see more of the embroidery that has inspired me lately, check out my embroidery board on Pinterest.

I already used one of these pieces for a project.  Can you guess what I made?