Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cross Stitch Without a Frame

I am so, so far behind with my blog posts!  I have been busy but disorganized.  Now, though, I am going to start catching up!

I have been going through a cross stitch phase again recently.  Celtic Spring kind of ground to a halt around late February when I filled up my 11" x 17" Q Snap frame and debated the best way to proceed from there.  Up until a week ago it looked like this:

In the past I would have done a large project like this on a scroll frame.  However, when I discovered Q Snap frames I swore I would never go back to scroll frames.  Scroll frames are so heavy, and I am constantly either banging my arm or catching the thread on the knobs.  With my dodgy back I have to lean back in my chair, so I can't use a seat or floor frame comfortably.  This project does fit into a 17" x 20" Q Snap frame, but the frame was so big I couldn't fit my arm around it!  So as an interim measure I put it into this 11" x 17" frame which was easier to manage.

Once I started using the metallic gold thread and I realized how important it was to maintain the crinkles in the thread, I started to worry about what would happen to the gold thread when I had to move the frame over the already stitched areas of the work.  I thought about doing a test patch, but I never got around to it.  While I was dithering about that I decided to work on something easier:

This may well be the first cross stitch pattern I ever bought.  I bought it back in the mid 1990s from June Grigg herself.  She and her husband had come all the way up from Atlanta to Toronto to have a booth at the Creative Sewing & Needlework Festival, which is now called the Creativ Festival.  I remember because they were both very nice.  It seems to me that the festival used to be more fun back then, with a wider range of vendors.  It was before Christmas, and I think it was held in the old Automotive Building at the Ex.  The whole place was strung with white fairy lights above the vendor stalls.  My friend and I went up to the mezzanine where you could look out over the lights and the entire festival - it was quite a sight!

These patterns have always been reasonably high on my cross stitch bucket list, but when I had another look at the leaflet last fall I worried that the large flat areas of colour might be too boring.  Then I realized that sometimes easy is a good thing, so I went ahead and bought the materials.  Another tv project!  I put it into a small Q Snap frame.

What I discovered, though, was that stitching the 18 count aida actually took more concentration than I wanted to give it.  For some reason, when I did my Kittens project on 18 count last fall I didn't notice the concentration needed to make the stitches, probably because I was already concentrating a lot on the counting.  The whole thing was feeling awkward, and I was remembering how much easier my redwork became when I took it out of the hoop, so I took the plunge.

The very dark brown and the green parts here are cross stitches, and the mahogany on the left and pale yellow and green on the right are half cross stitches.  I did the half crosses entirely from the top of the fabric, going down and up in one motion.  With the cross stitches I found it was better to still do stab stitches even with the fabric in hand.  When you look at the mahogany part especially you can see that the stitches are not too even.  However, it is so much faster that I will probably continue that way!  With the cross stitches you cannot see the difference at all between the stitches worked on the frame and the stitches worked in hand.

I have gone on for long enough now, so I'll show you how this worked on the linen evenweave of Celtic Spring tomorrow!

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  1. I did a lot of cross stitching out of the frame. You can manipulate the fabric so much easier and don't have to use the stab and stick method. In time, your stitches will be just as perfecdt as when you use a frame. The trick to it is in using your non-stitching hand to hold small areas of the fabric somewhat taut as you stitch with the other. You hands get less tired without having to hold the weight (however slight) of the frame. I disliked the Q-snap frame because of the bulk and inabiity to get my supporting hand around them easily. I know they are very popular, though. Maybe they have improved since I last looked at them.

  2. I think the Q Snap design is the same, Mary Ellen. But, a frame is still a frame!

    You're right, it will get better with practice. :)

  3. I have been looking for those patterns forever. I have volume 2 and have been searching tirelessly for volume 1 and 3. Any ideas?

    1. Sorry, Katie. As I said, I bought these direct from June (I think you mean the seed packets, right?) almost 20 years ago. I couldn't find any web presence for her at all.

      But you know, you CAN find digital images of these same vintage seed packets online. Maybe you could make your own pattern?


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