I am continually pestering my (beloved) sister to accept knitted socks from me. She is easy to knit socks for because her foot is only 4 rows bigger than mine so I never have to check the size. The truth though is that my sister, while she appreciates them, doesn’t really need a dozen pairs of knitted socks! She can’t wear them to work (lab scientist) and wears those really small sports socks outside work (are they even socks?) … so I have been stumped as to what handcrafted item I could press upon her. Until recently!
Don’t click on this link if you don’t like profanity! My sister saw the following article online and immediately thought of me:
She should have known better than to send me such a thing because I immediately sent her a link to my ‘Cross stitchers crack me up’ Pinterest board (Who doesn’t have one of these!?) and suggested she might like ‘Please don’t do coke in the bathroom’ for her new house.
She loves knitted items, honest!
(My Cross stitching Pinterest board, which has more profanity than any of my knitting boards for sure: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/loveliestyarnco/cross-stitchers-crack-me-up/ )
She declined but picked another one that was also on the board!
And the flood gates opened! My sister WANTED a hand crafted item! *chorus of halleluiahs*
There was just one problem … I have never cross stitched. In truth, in a real life pot calling the kettle names, until I looked into it to actually do it, I had no idea why you would cross stitch. I thought it all a little paint by numbers which, now that I am less ignorant, it is not! Not that people say that about knitting or anything …
But how could I not learn … my sister’s house has plenty of wall space for cross stitch! So I set out to the Ally Pally not only to exhibit but to find out a) how to cross stitch and b) buy all the things! I could have googled but I was going to the AP anyway.
It is a long time since I learnt something brand new. I learn new knitting techniques but the idea is always the same and while I moan about crochet, that’s more laziness than anything else. So I was struck by how impenetrable and inaccessible something can look from the outside, when you really don’t know anything about it. I imagine knitting can look very much the same if you are not familiar with it.
I had a vague idea about thread, ‘cross stitch material’ and a needle but how they all related to one another, I wasn’t sure.
I wandered through the stands, not seeing anything I wanted … I looked at some of the lovely kits but they didn’t look like what I wanted. I wanted something pretty but accessible. I talked to a nice man who really didn’t know what to sell me. People seemed reluctant to sell me something ‘too much’ that I wouldn't be able to do but didn't have something at an introductory level.
Thankfully I came to a lovely stand, with lovely things - pretty ‘material’ to cross stitch on and beautifully coloured threads. Here the owner finally explained the difference between ‘cross stitch material’ (Aida) sizes and then between that and Silk which can also be used to cross stitch on but is very fine. She explained I would need Aida, thread & a tapestry needle to start and that because I wanted to do letters, the finer Aida would be better (finer: more holes per inch and therefore more crosses per inch).
My lovely purchases!
I bought some fairly fine purple Aida & three colourful threads. I tried to buy an embroidery hoop but the woman said I wouldn’t need one to start … I should have bought one if only because I quite fancied one. Let’s face it, if you are reading this post, it’s likely that you like to start a hobby by GETTING ALL THE THINGS and I’m the same and cross stitch has less accessories than quilting ... I still haven’t used all those sewing machine feet!
Having had a lesson from the owner of the lovely stand, I was then able to look at the bigger, more confusing stands with some kind of knowledge. I bought some Christmas tags (punched card really) to practise with and I was ready to go.
I'm not sure I'll use them on gifts though, I might want to keep them ;)
I took my bits home and knew I needed to buy a pattern. Before the show I thought all cross stitch patterns were printed on the material, ready to start but that is not the case. Cross stitch patterns are very like colourwork patterns for knitting.
I haven’t quite started yet. I think it’ll be one for this coming weekend at The Knitting Hotel. I’m almost ready. Just as soon as I google ‘how to make cross stitch crosses’, ‘what size hoop do I buy’ and ‘what part of the pattern do I start on’! Hopefully I’ll be back with the detail and the finished cross stitch soon!
I am hoping to have my sisters cross stitch for her for Christmas and then it will just escalate until she won’t be able to move for cross stitch pictures in her house!
Happy knitting (and cross stitching!)
The whole 'start something new' made me think. Am I like that with new knitters or people who want to try something that isn’t strictly right? I had a really nice American woman come to buy sock yarn and all she wanted was beautiful yarn rather than practical yarn. I tried to convince her of the value of nylon but she just wanted beautiful and she very kindly bought lots of beautiful. I need to think about where the line between trying to sell someone the right thing and selling them what they really want is!
I also think I confuse people by over explaining things. I really need to work on my ‘Things for new knitters’ and ‘When people want to buy nice things, it’s not my job to be all Karen on them’! I’ll let you know how I get on.