#44 All aboard

I’ve never been one for the parking technique.

The idea of having lots of different threads and cottons lying loose at the front of my aida, while convenient, to me, isn’t very practical. Perhaps it’s my OCD tendencies that require me to have complete order with my sewing, or maybe it’s just the fact I came across the idea too late to get my head around it!

I have, however, over the recent months been contemplating how I seem to be quite a slow stitcher and, when you’re on a tight deadline, this is far from ideal.

I’m not sure if anybody else uses more of a ‘blocking’ technique, but I’ve come to use this of late and it seems to be making me stitch faster and neater than I think I’ve ever done before.

It’s simple:

Choose a colour close to the central point that seems to cover a large surface area of the pattern and work out in sections.

Keep doing so, working out towards the edges of the pattern, selecting colours and shapes that will help you to pick out the design of the piece, while ticking off a decent number of stitches.

When you can make out the pattern and you have done as much outlining and blocking, as I like to call it, then start to work back in towards the centre to fill in the shading.

The only thing I will say about this technique is that you MUST be careful with your counting. One mistake on the inside of your pattern could dictate the rest of the design, which means either a lot of reworking or a lot of unpicking, depending how strict a stitcher you are on yourself.

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I started this Christmas train tree decoration last night and have perhaps spent about 2-3hours on it thus far. It’s on a plastic piece of aida, which I’m using for the very first time, too, but still the results seem to be heading in the right direction.

I’m not saying I’ll be setting any world records for the fastest stitcher any time soon, but the more cards I can make this Christmas, the bigger contribution I can make to charity.

J x

#43 Christmas came early for this cross stitcher…

Earlier in the year, Mr XStitch and I went along to the Sewing, Stitching and Hobbycrafts Event (#28) and came away with some absolute treasures (well I did, he came back tired and with a new found respect for online shopping!)

This weekend it was back with bells on, as exhibitors and crafters alike knew it was all about one thing: Christmas.

Ribbons, buttons, patterns, skeins, die-cuts, card, inks, glitter glue, decoupage all with your favourite Christmas characters.

I was there to pick up some beauties from my favourite craft barn, Black Sheep Wools, and to see if I could fill my crafting Christmas stocking a little early. I did.

The loot:

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My favourite buy of the day has to go to this modest little stamp:

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What better way to finish off the Christmas cards I have planned than with this heartfelt and genuine statement?

It’s also been a weekend of finishes, including this piece from the latest issue of The World of Cross Stitching magazine.

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I’ve found it to be a great way of using up my own skeins and, with a little help from the BBF (Bengal Bundle of Fluff) we managed to make it our own adaptation by going with a more simple version. Still very effective though, I hope you’ll agree.

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You’ll note I’ve frayed the edges of the aida… More on this later.

J x

#42 Now bring us some figgy pudding…

Much like last years’ attempt, (#11) I’ve been working on adapting existing cross stitch patterns to put my own spin on my Christmas cards.

This year I’ve picked up a selection of magazines, including Christmas Collections – which I’d highly recommend, and started selecting patterns that I hope will work well as cards, be reasonably quick to finish and enjoyable to stitch.

As I hope you’ll be able to tell, this is a festive figgy pudding with all the trimmings.

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I’m really pleased with how this little fellow has turned out. It’ll go great with some Christmas ribbon I picked up recently, and a couple of snow flake embellishments for added effect.

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Thanks to all who have liked and / or commented on my recent Christmas posts – it’s lovely to have a little place on the world wide web to share your hobby and passions and get such positive responses in return.

You’re all lovely.

J x

#41 I do believe in fairies

You may have noticed a recurring theme in my last couple of posts: Christmas.

Now, I love the combination of cross stitch and Christmas as much as the next gal, but there’s a reason for me starting my projects a little early this year – aside from the gift of time, that is.

This year I plan on making as many cross-stitched Christmas cards as I can – fifty being my goal – and selling them for charity.

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In my short 25 years living on this planet I’ve lost too many people I love and adore to a horrible, crippling, heartbreaking disease – Cancer.

I’ve seen the best of the best battle with all the weapons and will they can muster and sadly still it not being enough.

I’ve seen 51-year-old mothers lose out on seeing their young sons get married and have children, grandmothers miss out on witnessing their grandchildren’s milestone moments, grandfathers failing to see what legacy they’ve left behind in their handy, gardening-loving grandsons and granddaughters pine for the grandpas they will never meet.

But rather than think of all the bad, I want to do good, which is why I’ve pledged to use my hobby to give back to the causes fighting hard to prevent others going through the same loss that I, and so many others have, this Christmas.

And so I’ve set myself a target, started buying my patterns and magazines in the hope of finding the Christmas characters who’ll help me in my quest, organised embellishments and ribbons, all in enough time to do all my – and everybody else’s – angels proud.

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I’ll be documenting my journey along the way with positive posts detailing the cards I’ve made and the cross stitches I’ve created.

Perhaps, if you’re in the mood to make your own cards this year, too, take what left over stitches you have and spread a little Christmas joy, too. Let’s help give more families the gift of life.

Eight stitches down, 42 to go…

J x

#39 Just another reason why I love cross stitch…

…It’s the beginning of September and already my mind is swimming with Christmas.

Cards, decorations, presents, gift tags – you name it, I want to stitch it.

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So thanks, Cross Stitch, for bringing me another source of joy in this world.

Stage one: stitch 50 miniature designs.

Stage two: use left-over creativity to put together 50 original cards.

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More on this project to follow in due course…

J x