art · cross stitch · sewing

Designing my own cross stitch

It began when I entered some of my cross stitch in two different shows. And it got me thinking – how do these shows judge cross stitch? Is it by the ability of the stitcher to count? The quality of the stitching? The choice in matting and framing to complement the cross stitch? It can’t possibly be the design of the cross stitch itself because the designs were made by other people.

That lead me to think about cross stitch itself. I have some absolutely stunning ones on my walls and have devoted much time (and money for framing…but until recently, my mum paid for it) to them but they don’t present much of a challenge. Just follow the chart and try to stick the needle in the right hole (which is only really an issue if using black aida cloth). You don’t even need to think to do it. Provided there are no subtitles, it is perfect to do in front of the TV. There just doesn’t seem much point in judging them in a contest.
I don’t really know how I made the mental leap between pixel art and cross stitch but 2006 was when I designed and made my first cross stitch. It was both beautiful and terrible. But so very satisfying. 

Now here I am, working on my fifth design (or seventh, if you count my butterfly series as individuals. I intended them to be a set but as yet, no one has purchased all three together). As I mentioned before, I find blue wrens to be such wonderful birds.
I expected that drawing a bird would be a challenge, even with reference pictures (and there were certainly many of them). But the only thing that present a problem were the legs and feet. I shouldn’t have bothered stressing – the detail was lost when I resized my sketch…

I’m not the greatest pixel artist out there and I really doubted my ability to tackle something with feathers. But as I was working on it I was amazed at how well it turned out. I can’t stop staring at.
In terms of pixel art, the tail lets it down. It looked terrible with the limited palette so I had to add so blending shades. It does crank up the colour count but for the cross stitch I think I can make it work by combining different coloured cottons to make new shades. The current cross stitch kit I’m doing uses that technique and it makes the shading look rather pretty.

I probably go about designing cross stitch the stupid way. I know there are programs that converts pictures into charts and pick out all the colours. I tried a few and must say that I wasn’t happy with the results, though I am sure that it is my own failing. What I do is manually convert the pixels into a chart via the use of Mr. Excel. It works.
Picking out the right colours doesn’t work so well. I have a little colour key that I use to pick out a range of potential shades. But the printed colour and the real colour are often quite different. Then again, a bundle of cottons looks a lot different to when they are stitched out. The different shades can look like they blend just how I want it only for me to discover that they don’t work when stitched on the cloth. Thus, I do a lot of unpicking and restitching (and swearing) to get it right.
Despite the blue wren only needing 14 different colours, I’ve compiled a list closer to 50, based on the colour key. Hopefully from that list, I can find just the right combination.


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