Both the best and worst thing about cross-stitching is how jolly long it takes. What looks like a fast little picture can take hours to get done – which is why many people find it to be such a therapeutic past-time.
The first thing I found when researching beginner kits online, is that 99% of the patterns provided are of flowers. This doesn’t do much to attract a younger audience, but I straightened my bifocals and persevered. The beginner kit I went for was the least floral one I could find. It was also good value – containing three separate complete kits. And I’m now beginning to see this as a lifetime investment, as my eyes gaze guiltily over at the stretched canvas on my table saying ‘finish me’.
The pack came with a single A4 ‘instructions’ sheet, pictured below. On one side; the diagram of the cloth with colour codes that matched the cotton palette and some tips. On the reverse, a miscellaneous collection of all stitch types ever needed. I checked the envelope again for any further instructions but this was it.
It seemed fairly obvious to begin by feeding the canvas square into the round frame and tighten this to have some tension. Next, I struggled threading the needle with such a wooly thread, which split each time and took some wrangling to get through the eye. After staring more closely at the ‘Tips’ section, I realised where it mentioned ‘3 threads’ for some parts, ‘6 threads’ for others meant that you needed to separate the 6-strand thread or ‘floss’ rather than threading the whole lot, which made this task a bit simpler. Once threaded, tie a knot in the end of the floss to stop it pulling through and you’re good to start.
The first stitch I ‘mastered’ was the straight stitch, which was fairly clear from the diagram. Similarly, the ‘back stitch’ was quite straight-forward. It was the ‘leaf stitch’ that sent me to YouTube, and I think certain stitches from then on require a little video support until you get your bearings. The video below guides you clearly through the most common stitch types you’ll likely need.
Once mastering the stitch types, embroidery is quite soothing in its repetitive nature. And, unlike a Netflix binge, you have something to show at the end of it. My only consideration for the next one is purchasing a thimble, as these young fingers can’t take the needle prods when the needle needs a bit of encouraging through (or back through when you’ve accidentally stitched in a corner of the cloth).
This is the pack I bought on Amazon because it was the best combo (with minimal Nana-florals) for £14.99. The quality seemed good but prepare to seek out a bit more guidance if it’s your first time.