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Cross Stitch: Squares, Lines and More

This flower is from my "Antique Flowers" Sampler.  It is very similar to another flower in my "Les Fleurs des Bois Sampler".

Whats similar?  The flower shape is identical.  What's different?  Color - the antique flower is stitched with a dark muted purple.  The contemporary flower is stitched in multiple brighter purples.  The stems are very different.  The antique flower stem is stylized and made exclusively from cross stitches.  The contemporary flower uses a few cross stitches with some backstitches and half stitches thrown in.  It is more delicate and realistic.

A few simple choices drastically changed the look of the flower.  Whatever shape I design, either simple or complex is shaped by many decisions.  Color affects the mood - pastels, brights, darks all have a different look.  What stitch do I use?  All cross stitches?  Do I add backstitching or not?  The half stitches are more work but they smooth out the edges so the design isn't as boxy.

A lot of detail can be placed in a simple design that can be surprisingly realistic.  And not just in Cross Stitch.  One of my favorite websites has logic picture puzzles (and number puzzles too)  called Pic-a-Pix, Fill-a-Pix and Link-a-Pix that are made of simple grids.  Most of just two colors - black and white.  But they do some with more colors.  I've never tried cross stitching any of their designs but you certainly could.  Some of their designs are more ambitious than anything I've ever tried to fit into a grid.  Some succeed brilliantly and in others you have to lean back, squint and try to figure out what the design is.  It didn't strike my until recently that perhaps the reason I enjoy these puzzles so much is that they is so similar cross stitch.


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The ABC's of Cross Stitch Alphabets

Alphabets are quite popular on cross stitch samplers and there are many decisions to be made when choosing an alphabet.  Upper case or lower case is one decision.  It seems that upper case is most popular.  Using lower case causes all sorts of compications.  Extra space is needed for j, k, l, p and the other letters that extend above or below the main line. 

Another important decision is even or odd.  The alphabet above is odd.  That is, it is and odd number of stitches high, in this case 7.  Notice the B and D.  Both are symmetryical.

This is an even alphabet that is 6 stitches high.  Notice that the B and D are no longer symmetrical.  I prefer odd alphabets.  I've been known to change the size of a sampler to mak an even alphabet into an odd alphabet.

Both of these samplers are in a traditional font.  But it is easy to re-arrange the stitches to create different looks for you alphabet.  Here is an elegant alphabet that is only 7 stitches high:

Each letter takes up more space and gi…

Do Overs

Starting over means re-doing some of my projects.  A lot of the projects that I've done I don't want to do over.  Some turned out not to be the worth effort and others were not fun at all.  There's also a feeling of "been there, done that".    I've also discovered that I enjoy the act of creating more than the results sometimes.
My first do over was this penstemon I designed a while ago.  It's small and simple and only 2 colors.  I'll eventually be restitching many of my own designs.  Luckily, I still have the charts even if I no longer have the item or pictures of the item.
My second do over is actually actually stitching something for the third time!

After the second stitching, I'd had enough.  But, I was given the 2010 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue with the pattern and that was a sign that the reindeer needed to be stitched again.  Hopefully, that's it.
My last do over represents all the EGA seminars that I attended over the years.


The Next Lone Star

I am continuing to practice lone stars.
This time I tried a different tutorial.  Each one I find is slightly different so I get to try different techniques and see which ones work best for me.
Since I've gotten better with points and the quarter inch seam allowance and need to work on keeping the diamonds from stretching I picked this tutorial.  It has fewer, bigger diamonds so it should go faster.  It also doesn't have the set in squares and triangles so it will be easier to finish if I choose to do so.
As soon as I started cutting the diagonals I realized I forgot the starch.  I just jumped right in and missed the main point of the block.  So, I decided to continue and focus on being as careful with the fabric as I could.  Guess what, my diamonds didn't stretch out this time!
I got some stretching when I sewed on the triangles, however the block still turned out OK.  A couple of points are slightly off but most of them are right on. There is a slight hump in the center …