Monday 11 November 2019

What makes a Counted Cross Stitch kit good?

I happened to be at lincraft this week... actually happened to be there a couple of times and I was eyeing off all the kits because there are some pretty ones there. Didn't end up buying any as I have too many already... I don't need to be tempted! On the second visit I was there with my friend and she is new to any crafts so I've got her starting with my Christmas Owl Wreath Stitch A Long.

When we were looking at items she had one question.

What makes a good beginner kit? Why is one better than another and how do I tell!?

It can get very overwhelming when you are staring at all the possibilities out there and you're trying to work out what will work best for you. There is an aisle full of kits but will the actually work? Will you achieve what you want to do or will you just crash and burn if you try?

Disclaimer: Most of these photos are of dimensions kits, this is not an advertisement and I'm not saying these kits are better or worse than others it's just what was available at the store for me to photograph to share with you. I personally have done some dimensions kits and love them and have hated others and it's more to do with the design than the quality of the kit itself.

1. Size

To start with lets talk size. The bigger the piece the harder it will be. Not necessarily because it will be difficult to stitch but because the bigger the piece the longer it will take you to finish. The longer it takes to finish the more likely you are as a beginner to lose motivation. It does not mean that you can't do it just that you are more likely not to, particularly if you haven't come into cross stitching from another craft.

While kits like these above are beautiful, unless you have the right level of motivation they are much harder to do because they take so long. And when you are not used to handling larger fabrics and you don't have the frames it can get confusing and overwhelming. That is something you don't want! On top of that there is a lot involved in keeping track of a bigger piece and making sure that you don't get lost, it's not impossible but as a beginner it's not necessarily a challenge you want to take on yet.

What you want are kits like the ones below:

The first picture are some very simple kits. They are a great starting point as they have a few colours and a simple picture. This second lot of kits are a little harder, they're a bit bigger but they are still doable in a reasonable time. At only 5x7inches it's the size of a normal photo frame and while they have a lot more colours they are still on the smaller side.

2. Threads

Now this is a small thing but something that comes up again and again in the groups. Some kits lump the threads all together and you have to sort them out. Some like dimensions are really nice.

This is the hang in there pattern and as you can see the threads are all beautifully separated and labeled and you don't have to do any of the work with that. This is not make or break but it is something to be aware of. Take a look at the kit you're buying and read reviews of that brand and how they organise the threads also what brand of threads they use.

Dimensions uses their own threads, and while previously they have been known to send replacement threads out if you run out they have also sometimes just sent a DMC conversion chart.
Other kits will use Anchor threads or DMC. Knowing what brand threads the kit uses is important if you don't like the feel of those threads or if you were to run out of a colour you can't replace them easily and quickly. Just something to think about.

3. Difficulty

Now I don't know if other brands have this or not but I know that dimensions has this group of patterns called the gold collection. PLEASE be aware of these ones! They are NOT easy patterns. Even the petite ones are difficult and are definitely intermediate to advanced. They have a lot of colours and  a variety of different stitches. Again if you really want to do them I'm not stopping you but do go into these patterns with your eyes open.

This angel design above is small and would fit into the size recommendation but because it is one of the gold collection it has a lot of different kinds of stitches. This will take as long to finish as a bigger piece that has less complicated stitching.
As a beginner yo u

(bonus) Other Kits

Now this is something that I almost fell into ... amidst the patterns for counted cross stitch were a couple that were not.

This was right amongst the counted cross stitch patterns but it is a needlepoint pattern. Not wrong but do be aware that they can be placed together as this is a different fabric and a different technique. Still beautiful and I really was tempted to buy this one for the pretty design!

Also you have kits like these ones. They are stamped cross stitch where the pattern is stamped onto the fabric. I personally don't like them but they are another way to get into cross stitching.

I hope this has been useful to you and that it helps you next time you want to purchase a kit from the store.

Happy Stitching,

P.s. don't forget to vote for me :D

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