Today, let’s delve into the world of counted cross stitch, with a bit of a twist!
I’ve been recently fiddling with some folky holiday-related designs for counted work. As is pretty much always the case when I start messing with pattern development, what was originally three designs morphed into many more variations, which I’ll be sharing with you here as I finish the samples.
There’s just Something about working with repeat patterns. In the design stage, it’s fun. There are so many possibilities for developing more complex and less complex patterns, starting from just a few basic design elements.
In the stitching stage, I find it exceptionally relaxing.
Stitching repeat patterns with cross stitch, in monochrome, is what I call “mindless stitching.” Once you know the structure of the repeated elements, you don’t have to refer to a pattern, you don’t have to think about what stitch to use, you don’t have to think about color or thread choices. You just stitch away.
I like this type of stitching when I need a break from more complicated handwork. A break is always a good thing, but even when I’m taking a break from my regular embroidery, I still like to have something to do with my hands – preferably, something I don’t have to think about!
This type of stitching is the perfect solution. The set-up is simple, since the project is small, and the stitching is basic.
Now for the twist. The counted cross stitch I’ve been dabbling with has not actually been on counted cross stitch fabric. Normally, counted work is done on even-weave fabric, or at least something very close to even-weave fabric.
But that’s not really what I had in mind for these little designs. I wanted to use the designs to add a bit of festive folkiness to regular household linens, like cloth napkins for the table, flour sack towels (which I like to use for wrapping kitchen-related gifts or bottles of wine, or for lining gift baskets or bags), placemats, and the like.
So, for this stitching, I’m using various types of plain weave fabric, depending on what I’m embellishing.
For example, I’ve been stitching white snowflakes on Christmas-red cotton cloth napkins.
I’ve been stitching red snowflakes on white flour sack towels and white cloth napkins (frosty blue snowflakes would look great on white, too). I’ve been stitching other designs in white on oatmeal and natural linen hand towels and table toppers.
All of these will make terrific hostess gifts or personal little touches to include in gift baskets, come Christmas. And they don’t take much time to stitch!
Cross Stitch on Plain Weave Fabric
The trick here is how to work cross stitch on plain weave fabric.
There are a number of ways you can go about doing it!
For most of these samples here, I’ve been using DMC’s soluble canvas, because the original designs for this project are for a DMC article. DMC soluble canvas is neat stuff. I hadn’t used it before I started this project. It’s simple to use: you baste it onto your fabric wherever you want the design, stitch your design, and then soak the fabric until the soluble canvas disintegrates and rinses away.
The soluble canvas is kind of like a very thin plastic sheet, a little stiffish, with evenly spaced (14 count) holes in it. It works well.
The other option is waste canvas, which is a rough woven canvas that you place on top of plain weave fabric, stitch over, and then cut and pull out all the canvas threads individually. I’m not a huge fan of waste canvas. It works, but my stitches are never as tight as I like them, after using it. And I don’t like picking out the canvas threads.
And then there’s a Third Option, which I’m testing now. It involves printing your own grid and sticking to your fabric with water soluble stabilizer, and then rinsing it away. Here’s my tutorial on the process. I’m going to share the results of those tests later, once I finish a couple samples. It’s the easiest of the options for counted work on plain weave fabric, and while not as inexpensive as waste canvas, it’s less expensive than water soluble canvas. The stitching experience is different, though, which is why I need to test it thoroughly.
Folky Snowflakes on a Corner – Pattern
In the meantime, if you’d like to indulge in some relaxing stitchery and work up your own corner design of folky snowflakes, you may! Here’s the design, below, as a PDF. You’ll want to choose your printer setting that allows you to “shrink to fit” to one page. Otherwise, the chart may print on two pages, which is not necessary, since it’s not a large chart.
I hope you enjoy the design and that you have a chance to add a little folky festive touch to your holiday decor!