Tag Archives: counted cross-stitch

Of Craft Stores, Wal-Mart and Striking Back

Good morning Everyone!

I love craft stores.  All I have to do is enter one, and I fall into a trance even worse than the one that hits me every spring when I go by a garden center.  (See, Spring, Roosters and Butterfly Farm.)  One of the reasons it is worse is that I only enter the garden center trance once a year, at springtime, while the craft store trance is guaranteed to hit each and every time I walk through the door of a Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann’s Crafts or Hancock Fabrics.  (A.C. Moore’s used to be included in that list, but alas, the one in our area closed about two years ago.)

It is thanks to this quartet of stores, with an assist from a small store in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that sells wood craft patterns (I can’t remember its name, but if you are familiar with that area, it is in the shopping center behind the Old Mill Restaurant on the right as you travel away from the main highway) and the local fabric shop in one of the cities in our area, the Opelika Sewing Center, that I have one of the finest craft closets for its size anywhere.  In addition to a copious stash of supplies for counted cross-stitch, craft painting, sewing and scroll-sawing, (all of which I have done sometime in the last two years),  along with various supplies for art class I have garnered, I have beginning supplies for a number of things I intend to try some day, including beading supplies, modeling clay and knitting supplies.  I just can’t leave a craft store without buying something; there are days I manage to restrain myself to just a skein of cross-stitch thread or a bottle of craft paint, and other days when my buggy is full by the time I hit the check out counter.

Cross-Stitch Magnet I Made, 2011

Wal-Mart used to have a craft section where it sold cross-stitch supplies, craft painting supplies, yarn and knitting/crochet supplies and fabric.  In fact, the cross-stitch supplies were one of my reasons for going to Wal-mart – it is a well-known corollary to Murphy’s law that no matter how many different DMC thread colors you have, you will always be short at least one color when you start a project.  However, in the last two years all of those items have been phased out of all Wal-marts and I suspect I am not the only person who mourned their passing.

Craft Painting on Mini-pumpkins in 2005 - Mine is the one on the left; Kayla's are the three on the right

For those very select few who might live somewhere where a Wal-Mart does not, Wal-mart is a store that generally sells a little of everything.  Originally, Wal-Marts were relatively small, and made a living by moving into a plethora of small towns.  Over time, however, the Wal-Marts mutated into these giant stores called “Wal-Mart SuperCenters” which added full service grocery stores onto the other part of Wal-mart and in doing so created a store where you can pretty much buy anything from live fish (as pets) to asparagus to bed linens – but apparently not fabric or counted cross-stitch threads!

However, here where I live, we have one of the last original small Wal-marts in existence, and it took longer than most to ditch the craft supplies.  Finally, though, even it was forced to bow to the pressure put on it by corporate, and it put the fabric and other craft stock away.  In my small town, we are now left with one generic craft aisle that sells a few sewing notions, a few skeins of yarn (but no cross-stitch thread or supplies), a few craft painting items, and a huge array of Crayola products for children.  

The 2007 ornaments I painted for people at work, Part I

That being said, you would not think I could manage to enter my craft trance at a Wal-mart anymore, but yesterday I managed to do so.  You see, some enterprising buyer had the thought to put some “I learned to knit by myself” and “I learned to crochet by myself” kits immediately beside the yarn skeins.  I went in to buy needle threaders (Singer has a three pack for just under $1) and before I knew it, I had added two skeins of yarn and the crochet pack to my buggy.  It took an enormous effort of will, which wouldn’t have been possible in the old craft section because it was big enough to induce the trance for a much longer period of time, but I managed to argue myself into putting the crochet pack back.  (The yarn had to stay because Kayla is working on her first needlework project – do you hear the tone of motherly pride in my voice? – and somehow the dark blue and black yarn that came with the kit had been lost.) 

2007 painted ornaments, Part 2

So take that Wal-mart!  You lost at least $8 in revenue yesterday because you decided to emasculate your craft section.  Just imagine how much more you may have lost in the meantime!

Have a great day everyone!


Hazardous Duty: Counted Cross-Stitch

Good morning everyone!

One of my favorite hobbies is counted cross-stitch.  My friend, Vonda, introduced me to the craft back in college, and I have been doing it ever since.  Counted cross-stitch is a form of embroidery which, strangely enough, uses cross-stitch in order to form pictures.  In counted cross-stitch, you are provided with a chart and a list of colors for your embroidery thread that you use to make a picture. 

Clockwise, from left: Original Picture, Chart, Completed Cross-stitch

So, for example, in the picture above, the post card on the left is the original picture.  On the top of the picture is the chart, where someone patiently translated the original picture into a counted cross-stitch chart.  On the bottom right is the completed counted cross-stitch portrait.   The only thing missing is the list of colors.  The fact that my daughter has not yet taken up this craft is not her fault, but mine – I have a patience problem when it comes to teaching it to her.  Still, one day I hope to have enough patience to work through a project with her.

Part of a series of Christmas Ornaments I made

Just like pixels on a computer screen, a counted cross-stitch chart can be used to make just about any picture that you would want.   That is part of the fascination, because, with the proper chart, I can make everything from small Christmas ornaments, up to large adaptations of works of art, depending on my mood. 

Four Christmas Ornaments I Made

You would not think that such a hobby can be hazardous, but it does have its perils.  Mark and Kayla have long known that if I am working on cross-stitch, and they wish to hug me, they need to approach warily – I have a (possibly bad) habit of storing needles conveniently on my shirt or shirt sleeve while I change thread colors and the unwary person who approaches me for a hug can unfortunately get pricked. 

Plastic Canvas Ornaments, in a "folksy" style

There are a couple of very good cross-stitch magazines produced in the United States, but, owing to the greater popularity of the craft in the United Kingdom as well as their centuries head-start on the topic of embroidery in general – let’s face it, royal women were working on embroidered tapestries and other types of embroidery in the United Kingdom before the Americas were even a rumor in the mind of the European world – the cross-stitch magazines from the United Kingdom are exceptionally good.  Although it is fairly expensive, due to shipping, to subscribe, I do buy some at a book store occasionally.

More complicated cross-stitch ornaments

 The British magazines almost always come with an extra gift, so they are sold in the bookstore wrapped in a plastic cover that includes both the magazine and the extra gift.  Having had the rare chance to go by Barnes & Noble and purchase a couple of new magazines earlier this week, I was anxious yesterday to steal about five minutes to look at them.  I got in a hurry ripping the cover off of one of them, though, and as I did so, the magazine flew out of the plastic towards my face and hit me right below the eye with the bottom corner where it is bound.  It has left a small (vanishingly small) scratch underneath my eye, and a nice straight black and blue line that would elicit inquires were it not for the fact that the circles under my eyes are so dark already it is hard to tell the difference! 

That's the one that got me!

Am I going to let this newly discovered peril stop me from engaging in this craft that I love?  Of course not!  Still, I intend to open cross-stitch magazines a little more carefully in the future.

Have a great weekend everyone!


P.S.  Please forgive any typos today – I am trying write this with my daughter playing “scream at my imaginary class as loud as I can” in the same room with me.  This activity does not create ideal conditions for concentration on my part!