Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March? How Can it be March?

February was a short month made even shorter by the flu/virus/upper respiratory thing that has plagued me all month. I probably should have taken off work for 3 or 4 days to get over it but in this economy who can do that? So instead I dragged to work everyday (except for one - the flu won out that day!) By the time I got home from work it was straight to bed to try to recuperate enough to get through the next day so no blogging and very little email getting done. At least I didn't end up in the hospital with it like so many others have, it has just taken a long time to shake it off. So my apologies to everyone I owe emails to. I am trying once again to get caught up. :o(

I have plenty to blog about - exchanges, new charts, etc. It will just take a bit to get it all on here.

First up, though, I'll take a few minutes to answer a reader's question on stitching materials. These answers are, of course, only my opinions, for whatever that is worth.

Some stitchers are adamant about stitching only on Aida or only on linen or evenweave. I am not one of those stitchers. I refuse to be boxed in by narrowing my options for materials. I have stitched on perforated paper, burlap, canvas, vinylweave, screen, waste canvas, sweaters, afghan stitch crochet, plastic canvas, linen, evenweave and aida, etc. I've stitched with flosses, metallics, perle cottons, Retor's Matte, rayons, specialty threads, knitting yarns, crochet threads, silks etc. The point is, don't be afraid to try something new - you may really like it!

What I stitch on and with, just depends on the project I'm working on. The design of the chart or the intended use of the finished item will determine what I use.

I will say that whatever fabric or threads you use, use the best quality materials you can afford. You are spending precious time on your stitching - don't skimp on quality. Aida comes in many beautiful colors - solids, hand-dyed, opalescent, metallic, marbled, heathers, tweeds - different counts: 11, 14, 16, 18 - each count gives a totally different appearance to the fabric - but be careful of cheap brands - they may not be truly even, which may not seem to matter much in some designs but is very obvious when stitching a square design (you may be very disappointed to find your square is actually a rectangle!) The same goes for linens and other evenweaves - there are so many beautiful fabric choices these days but again, make sure that your fabric is really the same thread count in each direction to avoid rectangular squares, lopsided biscornus, etc. DMC and Anchor both produce good quality flosses (I think Anchor floss tangles a little less than DMC but I like DMC's color range better and it is more readily available, at least in my area.)

With all these beautiful choices today it is hard for me to pick an absolute favorite fabric but I usually prefer a 28ct Cashel or 32ct Belfast linen - something substantial - I don't care much for very thin, flimsy linen that is really see-through. I love stitching with silk but can't afford to stitch with it exclusively :o( so I use a lot of DMC and Weeks, Sampler Threads and Crescent Colors flosses. I can stitch over one but prefer not to. I love seeing things stitched over one thread but I personally don't enjoy stitching that way myself - it is harder for me to see and never seems smooth enough to satisfy me.

My best advice for new stitchers? Don't be afraid to experiment with different fabrics and threads but the most important thing is: Enjoy what you are doing!!! If that means stitching on Aida with silk threads then go for it! When I first started stitching I didn't even like the look of anything stitched on linen - I much preferred the look of Aida. Now I can see the beauty of both, each with its own characteristics - like comparing crocheting with knitting - similar but yet very different. If you want to try something new - all it takes is a little piece of fabric and a little floss to try out a few stitches and see what you think - see if any of your stitching friends have some small scraps of different fabrics and some leftover flosses they can share - it's a great way to get started with different materials.