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.


imnverted said...

Great post!

Carolyn NC said...

Nice words of wisdom! Glad you're back and feeling better.

Berit said...

Oh, wow! This reminds me of my first Biscornu!

I had bought some nice looking creamy Hardanger Fabric from Michaels (a 22 count). I didn't even know what Hardanger was; it was just there and looked nice, and would be "smaller" than previous packs of squares that I had bought which were 14 count Aida.

So, I finished stitching the design for my first biscornu on it. As I was backstitching the outline, I noticed how rectangular it was *cries*. To this day, I STILL don't know if that is a standard characteristic of Hardanger or simply faulty fabric.

As for the Biscornu, I "Made it work", and that somewhat puckery, rather understuffed Biscornu is still my treasure. Can't wait to make my second one! I think I'll use some linen, however. ;)

What a great post, lots of info for the ignorant such as myself! Most xstitch bloggers on the net are old hands with lots of experience, and it shows by their knowing use of inside jargon. What a great blog for us greenies!

P.S. So sorry to hear you had that awful sickness; my family in OK had it, too.
Quite awful; makes you fall asleep at somewhat random times quite instantaneously!

Olga said...

sorry to hear that you have been unwell (hugs) .......glad you are back on your feet again!
luv from olga. (uk)

drea_dear said...

Welcome back to the land of the living, Sharon! I'm sorry you were so sick, but here's to a stronger immune system for the rest of the year!

Thanks for the great info, especially on using the "best that you can afford", because we don't always have to use the most expensive fabric or thread. Another tip is to combine DMC cotton with a more expensive thread (one or two colors only) to give it some texture.

Antonella said...

Happy to hear you feel better.

Lori said...

so glad you are back and posting again! we missed you! so sorry you were so sick!!

Monique said...

Hello Sharon

good to hear that you are doing oke.
I like the blog that you have wrote.
I also like to stitch on any kind of fabric. and i think that the "best that you can afford", is very good.
I also shop for cheap pieces of fabric and threads that are affordable.
I enjoy reading your blog.

greetings Monique

Cole said...

So sorry you were feeling so poorly. It's a nasty one that's been going around, and it's everywhere too! Glad to hear you're feeling better!

Zoe said...

Thanks for your input on the different fabric choices, I don't have a whole lot of experience with different fabrics, but have been trying to work on some different fabrics.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear you were so sick and I am glad you are back, I have missed you. I read your blog every day and I love your designs.

tkdquintmom said...

Bravo! I agree totally :-)

Cindy F. said...

Really great post! I feel exactly the same way! I like to use it all:)

Karan said...

Interesting post, thanks. :0)

CindyMae said...

I agree, don't be afraid. I have been for a long time. Afraid to try and new fabrics. I have finally tried evenweave and love it!!!

CJ in OK ;-) said...

Hope you are finally feeling better. Great post. See you soon, CJ(ok)

Shalady said...

Hello! I just found your blog a few days and and it's great information!
I'm just getting back into cross stitching and I had a quick question for you! What is hte best way to get a good flat stitch when you are doing two 1/2 stitches in the same square? My 1/2 stitch squares always look puffier than the rest!! Any suggestions would be great!

heidistitches said...

I just found your blog via blue cornflower. Great post. I stitch on all types of fabric as well. I also just consider the project and really have no preference. I'm just happy stitching.

gazette94 said...

Hello Sharon, I just came back from my holidays in Scotland where I bought the issue 150 of the world of cross stitching, and I was happy to read about your blog and see your beautiful smile !
Congratulations for your nice blog that is allready in my favorite list !