With one butterfly down, and 8 more to go, along with letters, leaves, and quilting, I think it’s safe to say I’m at least one tenth done with my ILP. But before I tell you about finishing my first butterfly, I want to talk about starting my first cross stitch piece.
I started off by knowing very little about stitching at all, with only a few minor attempts at embroidery prior to this project, so I had to first do my research on the craft. I started off by asking a friend, who loves cross stitching and is quite a pro at it now, what I needed to start off with, in terms of supplies and standard knowledge. She listed off a few basic things I would need to start, all of which I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase at the Walmart in town, and gave me a few beginners pointers.
After gathering all of my materials, my stamped pattern, my needles (tapestry and embroidery), floss, two hoops, some handy sewing scissors, and some extra supplies like flour sack towels and aida cloth (just in case), I took to watching videos and considering my friends advice. There were a few things that most everyone agreed on, such as separating your floss to save material, using a knotless loop start, stitching in one direction first and then coming back the other direction to finish the stitch, and marking your pattern to keep track of your stitches. If you’re a bit baffled by some of these terms, I’m going to let this lovely lady explain.
Watching this video (among many others), I learned that you can separate floss into different strands of two, three, or four strands as opposed to the six strands that come together in a standard floss. After separating the floss, you fold it in half, so you can use the loop at the end as a way to ‘knot’ your floss without having to bother with tying an actual knot. The floss is also much easier to work with, as a result.
Techniques like stitching in one direction help keep your stitches even and help anchor your stitches as well, without having to worry about undoing a stitch by mistake (which I’ve done a few times). Marking your pattern can be very helpful in working with a stamped or counted pattern, by keeping track of what you’ve done and what still needs to be done. To explain this, I’ll show you a brief picture of one of my patterns with the corresponding stitches.
The ‘color key’ to the cross stich pattern.
The result of following the key.
Each symbol is a different color.
Following the symbols gives you the overall pattern.
Looking at the paper drenched in highlighter pink, you can see that I’ve slowly crossed off each part after I’ve finished the stitch. This helps me keep track of which colors and stitches I’ve done, and which I still need to do. Looking at the color key to the pattern, I can see by the symbol that is in each square, what color needs to go there and how many stitches of that color will be on this butterfly. While cross stitch in and of itself is very simple, this process takes the most time, and is very crucial to the process that we follow it. Otherwise, we ruin our pattern and our butterfly doesn’t look very good!
By following and using these basic skills and rules of cross stitch, the overall process isn’t at all as difficult as it seems at first glance! It’s simply a matter of following the pattern and keeping track of what you’re doing. As a final thought, I’ll leave you with a back view of the pattern, to get an idea of what you are doing when you’re stitching everything.