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Drops of Wisdom #1: Cross Stitch Starting Stitch

This very first drop of wisdom is actually going to be for cross stitch – I was going to show this to Jasmyne before I left but by the time we got back to the house I completely forgot. Sorry. So I wanted to show her the way I have been starting new threads for a while, as it doesn’t start with loose ends or knots, and it keeps the fabric flat and the tension even.

Warning: This will only work if you plan to use an even number of threads for your stitching, i.e. 2 or 4. If you need an odd number, this won’t work.

Step 1: I start with a long strand of a single thread. I use DMC which comes in a 6-strand skein. Depending on the project, and how many stitches you will need for this color, the quantity you cut could be smaller, but typically I cut about a wingspan length of thread (spread your arms out wide and cut). Then I pull just ONE strand from the 6-strand piece I just cut, and put the remaining 5 back on the plastic bobbin.

Step 2: Thread both ends through the needle.

Step 3: Make the loose end tail a little longer, but not too long. Start your first stitch from the back, and leave a long tail on the loop end.

Step 4: Turn it over to the back and pull the needle through the loop.

Step 5: Pull tight. But not too tight.

Step 6: Continue stitching as usual… Tie off in your standard method.

Isn’t that fun? I know Jasmyne will be super excited to try this. Remember – this only works with even number of strands, since you double up.

You might be wondering what that frame is in the background. Awhile ago I got a Clemes & Clemes frame, when they were first released from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery, and at that time I also found out the wonder of the Q-snap frame. Much friendlier than the standard round hoop. They come in multiple sizes – I currently use the 11″ x 11″ and 8″ x 8″. Super easy to set up, move around, switch projects, etc. Check them out. You’re welcome.

Did you enjoy your first drop of wisdom? Jasmyne – get stitching!


Emergency Toolkit

I just got back from visiting with a friend for a long weekend. A friend I haven’t seen in YEARS! I guess she realized that I was just too awesome for her to live without, so last December she sent me a photo of a set of mugs: The Ethel to my Lucy and The Lucy to my Ethel. She says I am Ethel but we may go back and forth – I do have the red hair… What’s even better is even though we hadn’t been in touch in many years, we were led back to each other, via a fun photo exchange, and our friendship was instantly renewed! After many months of text and voice messages, I was able to go visit her a couple states away, and we were able to have some good face to face chats and really catch up. She also gave me an assignment while I was there: teach me how to sew and make quilts, teach me how to learn French, teach me about hand and machine embroidery, tips on cross stitching, etc. So that was fun, showing her how I taught myself to learn different methods and getting her set up to begin. Don’t worry – I gleaned some important information from her too.

Us with our boys.

The boys.

As I was going through getting her set up with the sewing machine – how to thread the machine, the bobbin and what it’s for, and other aspects like that she would say “Oh that’s good – write that down.” Pretty soon I had a good list of tips and tricks for her – and she told me to put them up on the blog for her. If she was having questions she could refer back to it, plus it might help someone else – that’s you Dear Reader!

So I know I’ve posted some of these in the past; it’s been awhile, but little helpful things, I thought, here and there. But, to help my dear friend so far away, I need to post them again. And thinking it through, I think they need to be under 2 separate subcategories. The Tips & Tricks will be under Drops of Wisdom, like raindrops watering your garden, just helpful knowledge. Then in crisis mode, i.e. I’ve made a huge mistake, what do I do now?, or what do I do next time not to repeat this?? will be under Storm Chasers – this also fits with my new locale. Born and raised a Seattle girl, I lived there my whole life except for 3 years in Phoenix (where I met the aforementioned friend) and then back to Seattle for the last 15 years. Now I live in Cow Country; here they like corn, and the color red – not necessarily in that order. I absolutely LOVE the Thunderstorms that come through often, but I do miss water. And trees. And mountains. And Seafood. And Thai food. They think they have trees here, and water, it’s funny. They frequently laugh at me too – I put the NOAA Weather Radar on my phone and I get so excited when it goes off! Especially when it mentions the word ‘tornado’. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to be in a big tornado or have anyone get hurt or anything damaged, I just want to see one fly by – like safely just rolling down the highway. Like those little dirt devils we had in Phoenix. So far the closest I’ve gotten is ‘Tornado Watch’. They tell me “It’s just a Watch, not a Warning”. Then they try to hide their laughter (they’re not successful) shake their heads and say “Oh, you out of towners…”. It’s amusing. I could go on and on about the differences between Seattle and the Midwest and how amusing I must be to them, and how different things are for me…but I will say they get their seafood from the wrong ocean… Maybe this could be a new series – out of towner funny story of the week. I’ve got a few I could share. 🙂

Anyways back to business. I don’t know how often these will be posted – probably just when the idea strikes me. She had me started off with a good list so I’ll get to those first, and whatever questions she throws at me along the way. If you’ve got questions feel free to add them to the list. I know I am in the habit of reading a pattern, not understanding what they are trying to say, and then figuring it out for myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it takes multiple attempts before I get it. But in the end I seem to figure out a way to make it work. Or it sits in a pile just waiting for me to solve whatever problem I got stuck on. Either way someone will learn something. Maybe just me. But that will be one less thing on my pile. I’ve got enough other things to worry about – I might as well have fun, and try to help others along the way.