I have been stitching since I was about 16. I don’t seem to have my very first cross-stitch piece anymore maybe my parents do, but it was one of those free gifts you get with cross-stitching magazines, a little kit of a duck and I don’t think I finished the back-stitching, starting as I meant to go on! This article will show some of my early cross-stitching and finishes from purchased kits, I’ve included details where I could but some a very old and I can’t remember the brands or names…
What color is that thread? Is it the exact color you need in your pattern?
Doesn’t that sound like such a simple question?
What may surprise you is that a craft that is so totally dependent on color doesn’t really have many clear answers. To show how much things can vary, I looked at how different apps, stores and websites represent the thread 3746 shown above:
Quite a difference eh? And that’s just one thread of hundreds. BTW: If you’re thinking you can match up the best one based on the photo above then read on, it’s not that simple …
Whether it’s choosing which format to use when importing photos from your camera, downloading images from the internet or saving a picture from and editing program, you may be given the choice between what can easily seem like a bewildering list of options.
BMP, GIF, PNG, JPG, WEBP, PDF, PSD, RAW, TIFF & more - why so many? Don’t they all do the same thing and just let us save a picture? Well, they all have their strengths and weaknesses and some are more or less suitable to use than others in different situations.
We’ve made a number of videos that you may find useful to show some of the options available in our app to convert images to cross-stitch charts plus some general hints and tips around color selection, dithering and correcting photo exposure.
Let us know if there is a tutorial you’d like to see us to cover in any future videos!
Time for something a little different. If you do any form of needlework then you’re going to be threading needles … a lot. So it makes sense to use a tool to make it quicker and easier. There are lots of needle threaders available to buy, some very simple and purely practical and others more decorative. As part of the appeal of crafting is making something yourself we thought we’d provide a short tutorial on how to make your very own custom needle threaders …
Some needle threaders I’ve made
You see an amazing picture and think “wow, that would look fantastic on my wall !”. Can you just take it?
You’re probably thinking about something on a webpage, don’t. Imagine instead it’s a framed print in a Crate and Barrel store.
Of course you wouldn’t try to steal it and most people recognize that this would clearly be theft. But while you would be stealing a frame and the print, the most valuable part of the picture is very often the image itself. That is the thing that an artist or photographer worked to produce and it’s not just yours to take.
The fact that the image is for sale in a store, gallery or on a webpage doesn’t make it any more legal to take without permission. The web version may offer little protection to prevent it, but to suggest that made it “OK” would be akin to claiming that a store assistant who left the door open and took a break gave you permission to steal.
Anti-what-now? We’ve talked before about size, color, sharpening and dithering for custom cross-stitch chart-design and also some of the “secrets” behind the chart-making process. Now we’re going to talk about another image processing-related feature that affects the quality of charts, something called “anti-aliasing”.
Most computers now have displays made up of individual pixels arranged in a grid to produce “raster images” - literally, a grid of dots. That wasn’t always the case though - if you’re old enough to remember the original Asteroids arcade game, that had a “vector image” display which could draw smooth lines in any direction, used to draw the rocks that glided across the screen and smashed your little spaceship to pieces so you had to put another 10p in the slot.
Nowadays, your computer will almost certainly have some form of LCD display and the only mention of vector images refers to the format of the image file - to display something on the screen it’s always converted to the grid of pixels.
If there was one single thing that probably has the biggest impact on the quality of your final completed piece, it has to be the chart that you work from. If you’re buying a pre-made pattern then you should expect it to meet a certain level of quality. But what if you want a unique personal piece? You’re never going to find a ready-made pattern for your own parent, child, grandchild or loved family pet.
This is where custom-chart making comes in and we’re proud to announce our new online cross-stitch chart maker that will help you create great looking custom made cross-stitch patterns quickly and easily.
Ok, the headline maybe a little overhyped - I’ll tell you right now that there’s no alien technology involved (sorry). I know this article might even be a little controversial* but we’ve seen a lot of misleading comments about the process of designing cross-stitch charts and at the same time, there also seems to be a lot of curiosity about the process but not a whole lot of information available to explain it.
At one time, we were a little “in awe” of the charts that people produced and figured there must be some amazing secret process to it all but after working on a cross-stitch pattern making tool which required learning a lot more detail about the process, I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz … finally seeing the Wizard behind the curtain who’s busy trying to pretend there is more to it all.
So, I’m going to explain some truths about the process to creating great cross-stitch charts and why we need to begin with a clear definition of what “great” really means.
In our Tips for Tackling Large Scale Projects - Part 1 article we discussed setting the correct expectations for beginning a large project along with purchasing your supplies. Here we will look at how to prepare your supplies and getting organised along with planning where to begin stitching.