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It's Sew Good!

October 28, 2019

To celebrate Artober, let's look at one of my favorite mediums: thread.

Listen, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very visually artistic. My drawing skills start and stop with stick people, and while I enjoy painting and sculpting, those are more about the process than the finished product for me. However, I've started getting back into needlepoint, and let me tell you it is everything I want out of an art form. You can follow a pattern or you can choose to freestyle. You need minimal supplies to just get started. And best of all, erasing a mistake is as easy as snipping a thread. 

Cross-stitch is the easier of the two, in my opinion. For cross-stitch, all you need is embroidery floss (fancy thread), a needle, an embroidery hoop, scissors, and Aida cloth. Aida cloth is a specially woven cloth that has an even grid of holes, meaning most patterns are just clusters of blocks. You don't have to worry about spacing or wild stitches because, as John Mulaney says, "It's a grid-system." All you need to do is count your stitches. As far as patterns go, I myself enjoy the juxtaposition of beautiful florals and sassy sayings. Feminist Cross-Stitch and Feminist Icon Cross-Stitch both have scores of excellent, punchy designs. Want something that's less of a full pattern and more of a guide? Mega Mini Cross-Stitch and Retro Cross-Stitch both offer up beautiful little motifs to use in all your cross-stitch endeavors. With everything from farm animals to dinosaurs, you're sure to find exactly what you're wanting.

Embroidery might not be as simple as cross-stitch but it feels like you have more freedom. You can free stitch if you want. You can use a variety of stitches or just stick to one. You can embroider pretty much any fabric. Embroidery knows no bounds. I'm not very good at embroidery yet; my current project is a little wonky and there's a lot of excess floss on the backside, but darn it, it feels good. The book that is currently my lifeline is Hoop Dreams, which has one of my favorite how-to sections for stitches. The guide is really easy to follow and has excellent diagrams and examples. A Year of Embroidery is great for design ideas, with everything from vegetables to tiny skiers. Also all of the designs say what stitch is used on what part, which I haven't run across all that much. The Doodle Stitching collection is also worth checking out as it shows you how to take your own sketches and turn them into embroidered works of art.

No matter what medium you choose, remember there is no wrong way to make art. Happy Artober!

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Emily is the Branch Services Specialist at the Main Library. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and playing with her dog, Fern.