BLOG / September 19 2017

Cross-stitch birds—my way


It’s always magical how new embroideries come to life. This is the story of how my lessened eyesight led me to explore traditional cross-stitch in a total different way.

As you may know, one of my vital sources of inspiration is old crafts magazines. Whenever I’m searching for new ideas or just need to put myself into creative mode, I look for some old magazines and let myself be inspired by their pages. By doing this I reenact a favourite pastime of my childhood: I loved looking at the same issues of crafts magazines (my mom’s) again and again, inspecting each project and later asking my mom which one we could do.

So when KOEL magazine approached me last year to create an embroidery pattern for their second issue, I rushed to my magazines stash. I flickered through some magazines from the early eighties and found several cross-stitch motifs—flowers, alphabets and birds. I was drawn to the birds designs and selected a few. I drew the motifs on a grid I had traced on cereal box cardboard (my favourite craft material) changing some details to my liking. I cut out the shapes and arranged an overall pattern with the birds.

The birds could be stitched as single cross-stitch motifs or, if feeling brave, you could tackle the whole flock. You can see more of this project in KOEL issue 2 or directly from their site.

After delivering the pattern I wanted to try it myself. I had bought a blue cotton fabric and had expected to do counted cross-stitch on it. Of course, I couldn’t even get through five stitches when I realised it was impossible to do. I couldn’t see a thing!

So if couldn’t do cross-stitch the way I had planned, then I would need to devise a manner to still use the birds motifs without straining my eyes.

I traced a dot grid on different parts of the fabric (if you look closely in the top image, you will see small white dots surrounding the stitched “K”) and used them as a reference for placing my stitches. I covered the dots with French knots or used them as a base for a trellis grid. To complete the motifs, I employed cross-stitches (done freely on the fabric, not counting the threads) and long, straight stitches.

So don’t be discouraged if you ever find yourself not knowing how to do a stitch, achieve a certain effect or, like me, not being able to see (that small). I know, in the moment it can be very frustrating, but go ahead, forget about the original idea, do it your way and love the results.

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