Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Pat your head and rub your stomach...

Last week I taught a workshop for my local fiber and textile group, on a subject that I thought would be easy as pie.  I called it "Magic Cross Stitch" but really it was only the technique of filling your cloth with cross stitches by working from the back side of the fabric.

Why do this?  Actually I started out by stitching blind, a technique that Dorothy Caldwell famously teaches on the first day of her hand stitching classes.  I took it to extremes several years ago when my dear friend and art pal Terry Jarrard-Dimond took a class from Dorothy and loved the blind stitching.  We decided to each stitch blind for 12 hours -- one of us on black fabric, one of us on white.  Here's the finished pair:

Equinox: Night and Day

My half was the night; Terry's was the day.  She mostly used seed stitch; I mostly used cross stitch.  Read more about this project here.

I loved this stitching; it looked so weird, so random, so unplanned.  But it took way too long; that number of stitches would take me perhaps two hours if my eyes were open.  The other ten hours were spent untangling threads, making sure the thread lay flat against the fabric, avoiding loops, making sure the stitches weren't too tight, getting the thread unwrapped from the buttons of my shirt.  Almost all those tasks would have been unnecessary, of course, if I hadn't had a blindfold on.

So I thought of another way to achieve the surprise, the random and weird look of the blind stitching but without the hassles of blind thread management.  I worked from the back of the fabric, not the front.  Even though the cross stitch is so simple, it's amazingly difficult to visualize from the back of the fabric what's happening on the front.  I did a lot of "magic cross stitch" a couple of years ago, after finishing the blind stitching, and I loved the results (the project is still in process).

I thought this would be a great technique to share with my fiber art pals, and arranged to lead a workshop.  I'll tell you about it tomorrow!


  1. That looks like sooooo much fun!

  2. Love this idea Kathy, I think I will be stealing it :)

  3. I love the idea . . . you could have threads ready in a selected colour palette that you pick up at random. It's a 'must try' idea.

  4. What an interesting concept! Might have to give it a go sometime!!

  5. How interesting! How random! I've been thinking about doing this and think this morning I've come up with an idea. I have a improv blk/wht wall hanging I'm working on and like to hand quilt with pearl cotton thread. Since the quilt is already random I think I'll back with a black and try just doing a running stitch and see what turns up on the backside. What do you think?

    1. I think why not? try it and see what happens! (actually that's exactly what I think in response to many, many different questions).

      let me know how it works out