Welcome to Part 3 of the cross stitching series. If you missed Parts 1 and 2, click below.
3) The Stitches and following a pattern
6) Finishing and Framing
So your kit is all prepped and you are ready to start, but where? Take a look at your pattern - the design is in a grid and each square has a symbol. Each square on the grid is one stitch. You will also see a color chart on your pattern. This lists all your colors and what symbol they are represented by. It will also say in parentheses how many strands to use and let you know if they are cross-stitches, half-stitches, back-stitches and french knots (or other additional stitches your kit may include).
Decide where you are going to start your pattern. For my towel, I am starting with the turtle, then the stars, then the bubbles and details. On the seaside cottage kit I've shown, I started with the houses, then the sea, beach, trees, and sky.
Start by placing your fabric in the hoop. Loosen the screw and separate the two pieces. Place the smaller hoop under the fabric on a flat surface and place the large hoop on top, over the area you are working. Push them together and pull the fabric taut while you tighten the screw.
Find your first square and determine which color it is. Most of your stitches will be 2 strands. Each length of floss has 6 strands in it. Pull out one strand, fold it in half and thread the loose ends throw the eye of the needle.
Working from the back, insert the needle into the bottom left hole of your starting square, bring it through and insert it into the top right hole to make a diagonal stitch. Flip your fabric over and thread the needle through the loop of thread, pull tight, this will secure the thread and do it very neatly!
Keep stitching from left to right, bottom to top until you have completed the row as shown on your pattern. This is a half-stitch. If your pattern calls for this stitch, you can continue the next row by working right to left, the third row from left to right and so on.
To complete the cross stitch, insert the needle into the bottom right corner and cross over to the top left, working from right to left. Then do the next row from left to right, then right to left.
The back of the fabric will stay very neat by working this way. Here is what it should look like:
When you do not have enough thread to keep working, finish it by threading through the straight stitches on the back, 5 or 6 should be good, and cut the excess.
Sometimes you will realize you have made a mistake. Un-thread your needle and use it to pick out the incorrect stitches. Re-thread the needle and start working again.
You may also get knots while you work. To prevent them, let go of your needle every so often and let it unwind itself. If you do get a knot, insert the needle into the loop and tug, it should come right out. Some knots are tougher and may need more tinkering, but I have gotten 99% of my knots out.
One more thing, while 2 strands is the most common, sometimes your pattern will call for 1, 3, or tweeding, which is one strand of two different colors stitched together. When you are working like this you can't secure your first stitch with the loop. Leave a bit of a tail and work your first few stitches so that they cover the tail. This is pretty much the opposite of how you secure the end.
You can always email me or leave comments with questions. I'm happy to help.