abstraction distraction

Lately the knitting has been sitting in a pile on the coffeetable—three ongoing projects all in need of some attention, hence, they are being ignored. What do I do in these situations? I break out the cross stitch. I just love the meditative quality of stitching—more meditative than knitting, for me. Because there’s absolutely no thought involved in stitching; I count, and I watch the boxes fill in. When I’m knitting, I’m thinking, designing, planning, perfecting. The scope for perfection in cross stitch is very narrow, and I love it.

old obsessions become new obsessions (by mintyfreshflavor)

When I decided to return to the stitching, I had to spend the first hour taking out about, I don’t know, 200 stitches that were all placed one stitch too low. In some ways, I don’t know how much it would have mattered to the final product (other than being one stitch larger)–it’s going to just be a cloudy sky, nothing that requires precision. But it would have been impossible to figure out how to stitch the whole thing with this erratic misplaced shape. I hope I’ll have enough of that floss left to use fresh thread, but really, there are like 6 other colors that look practically identical, so it shouldn’t matter.

Which brings me to the only problem with this project. It’s too abstract. There’s no satisfaction in finishing up the latest tree, or shape, or border. Instead, it’s, “wow, I just filled in all the ‘/‘ within that area of the image, and it makes . . . no recognizable shape at all.” I’m thinking I might need to buy a new cross stitch project, something that looks like something, but finding cross stitch that I like is really tough.

A lot of my friends who had cross stitched when kids express this, too—they think they’d actually want to dabble in it again, but they don’t actually want the finished product when it’s all over. So far my favorite large source for projects is Keepsake NeedleArts, which has such a large range that you’re bound to find something, and the stock changes pretty regularly (this sky project, for instance, is no longer in the catalog—and the designer’s site is not live right now). Googling “cross stitch kits” is a real crapshoot. This Cross-Stitch Art site has some nice pieces. I just found The Stitchery, which is another one with a large stock. Anyone else know of a good source?

26 Responses to abstraction distraction

  1. Stitchyitch says:

    I’ve ordered from http://www.abcstitch.com/index.php before and been happy with the service – they have a really large selection. I always had trouble finding designs I would like to display as well. I like Dracolair Creations, some Mirabilia designs, Chatelaine (I’ve made one of the gardens and it was lovely) and the samplers from Long Dog Samplers (I made Mouline Rouge and adore it, but it took ages.) I also sort of like Monsterbubbles (she just published a book for Interweave Press) although I don’t like some of the text in those designs. I miss stitching – but I like knitting more because it doesn’t take 6 months to finish a project!

  2. lifexhistory says:

    It does look beautiful! I sometimes find myself missing x-stitch, but as your friends have pointed out, it can be hard finding the right piece to display. I lucked out and turned some Winnie-the-Pooh x-stitch into a pillow for my niece, which she still has and loves. But I’m afraid of covering my walls, furniture, tea towels, etc., with “old-lady” cross stitch.

  3. Chelsea says:

    This is really gorgeous! It looks like waves rolling through the fabric. I haven’t done cross stitching in a really long time and this makes me want to pick it up again. Beautiful!

  4. Melingo Wagamama says:

    I’ve spent hours upon hours hunting the web for cross stitch sites that matched my taste. Here are some of my favorites:

    For sophisticated, intricate samplers and vintage reproduction patterns, as well as hand-dyed linen and floss at Criss Cross Row and Wyndham Needleworks.

    Someone on Craftster turned me on to Dimples Designs, which can be found here; that site also has a giant selection of other offerings as well.

    Some fun, funky designs by Monsterbubbles: Monsterbubbles.

    And, cross-stitch-art.com (mentioned by Minty above) and Heartland House both have some interesting botanical, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau designs.

    Hope this saves you some searching time!

  5. Sade says:

    I know out there there is a program that makes Cross Stitch patterns out of any picture or drawing you give it. It also includes the color codes for threads, if I remember correctly. It’s worth a shot looking for it. I think it was called “Pattern Maker for Cross Stitch”.

  6. Veronique says:

    I don’t know if the knitting online world is more developed than the cross stitching world… I’ve noticed that finding fabrics can be difficult! They aren’t always referred to in the same way. Why is it so confusing?
    However, your sky is looking beautiful :)

  7. Ana says:

    I had to do so much cross-stitch when I was in school that i´ve grown to be vaccinated against it. It´s, like you said, difficult to find the right design if you want to keep it (not even mentioning displaying it).

    I used to receive a lot of mail from Sweden and one of the stamps had a wonderful design that I once started to cross-stitch. I don´t remember anymore why I didn´t finish.

    I guess that here there isn´t the process-stitcher vs. product-stitcher thing there is in knitting: I´d say that most of the people who do it are into it because of the process…

    Then again, a friend of mine designs cross-stitch pattern for a living and her biggest fight is to make them different from the usual (and cheesy) things usually available.

    Your sky is beautiful, though. What are you going to do with it when you´re done?

  8. abby says:

    I’ve had my mother’s box of DMC floss for years (and rarely used them), and just shipped it back to her. All these suggestions look great, and I might need to ask for it back…

  9. nova says:

    Oh, I have done a couple of pieces; and, I have to say, there is a certain calm that cross stitch brings…you know, when you are not ripping out 200 stitches…

  10. maryse says:

    that’s a lovely piece.

    i learned how to do needlepoint as a kid which is pretty mindless too but it’s tough to find canvases that aren’t 1. too “precious” and 2. too expensive.

    and it’s virtually impossible to find the right cotton here in the US.

  11. kristin says:

    I confess to owning and loving both Mary Englebreit cross stitch books. I know, horribly dorky, but her designs are just so freaking cute.

  12. missyecaj says:

    I just happened to find this etsy shop, which carries both embroidery and cross stitch patterns. I’ve started embroidering again, and I agree-it’s sort of freeing after knitting. I certainly appreciate the need for gratification on a project like the one you posted above. It is gorgeous, though.

  13. Mandy says:

    Ahh, cross stitch – my first crafting love. Silver Needle does have a very wide selection, but they can be kind of flaky on shipping. If they’re missing one item from your order, they’ll hold the whole thing for 6 months, and not tell you. I’ve had pretty good luck with Elegantstitch.com, and they also have a Hoffman shopping cart. Hoffman is a company that only sells to retailers, but they have the largest selection of patterns anywhere. You can access their site through Elegant Stitch (as well as several other online retailers, but ES offers a discount, always a good thing), and they have thousands (and thousands) of patterns. When I worked for my LNS, about 90% of our patterns came from Hoffman. I’ve also had pretty good luck with Stitchingbitsandbobs.com, but I order most of my cross stitch from Stitches n’ Things. That shop also participates in the online needlework show – http://needleshow.com/index.html. I’m amazed at how far the cross stitching industry has come in the past 10 years; some of the designers make patterns that, when stitched, look like art. Some friends and I are even stitching little chairs – they’re so cute!

  14. Jocelyn says:

    I remember when you bought that cross stitch and, as much as I love it, I remember thinking “where will she get the satisfaction in finishing a tree?”teehee.

  15. Trine says:

    I’ll have to bookmark this page; I thought I was the only one who still did cross stitch these days. :) Well, I don’t do it anymore – I have the same problem as you, can’t find anything I really *like*. I’ll check out those links you posted, hopefully there’ll be kits available for overseas customers. :)

    Trine xx

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