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January 24, 2012



fabulous tutorial!


I just wanted to know where I could purchase a needle with an eye that big. Just teasing :+} Enjoyed your tutorial.


Great tutorial! I'll share my little tips:

Sometimes it is hard to keep track of where you are in the pattern so you can use a post it right under the line you are working or get something called highlight tape which is a see-through tape you can run the entire width (or length) of the pattern for the line you are on. You can get super fancy with a metal stand and magnet strip too but I find the highlight tape and post it are a bit more portable.

Kristen from MA

I'm a long-time cross stitcher, and I think your tutorial is fantastic! I can't wait to get my hands on this sampler!


Thank you for the great information. Even though I have cross stitched before, I think I would like to give it a try again. It's always good to see how someone else does it and learn something new. I am glad you don't care what the back looks like because mine always look frightful!!


YOU make counted cross stitch look easy. I've tried it before and felt frustrated, but reading your words (now and earlier) has made me consider giving it a try again. You really do make it look user-friendly :-)...and even "inviting" -- thanks for that!

As always: really great photos.


thanks for writing this! my mom used to cross stitch when i was little and i always loved looking through her "book" of colorful embroidery floss. i am interested in trying it out myself, so it was helpful to read this post, and i look forward to trying your sampler! : )

thanks for all you do!


Huh...that was unexpectedly surreal, reading someone else's explanation of all those little details I also figured out through trial and error over the years. I can't think of anything to add. Other than: I'm *super* excited to order the kit :)


Oh you put my mind at ease! Thanks for sharing your wisdom on counted cross stitch.

Your floss box is so nice and neat. Mine ... well lets just say it doesn't quite look like yours :)


I have done cross stitch before but only on aida fabric. The challenge for me is counting. Believe me I get muddled counting stitches on my knitting needle, so it's a big issue with me! I came across a couple of pieces from your book on this blog here the other day and I think that the bunny sampler (under the blackwork if you scroll down), is a good place for me to start as it's only one colour and I can concentrate on counting. I have the book and it is superb and has lovely designs in it.

Many thanks for your tutorial, you truly are an enabler as you explain everything so beautifully, not easy either. I really appreciate all your information. Seeing the back of your work was interesting too. No idea why we all have the fascination but we do don't we?

blake @ salt teak & fog

so great. you're such a wonderful teacher! I always worry about doing things the "right" way, but I like how you encourage beginners to just get in there and start already! I love this sampler and anything variegated, so consider me a pre-order :)

sarah @ two tarts

You are so sweet! I know how to do counted cross stitch but I just read your whole post anyway :) I think your explanation is just perfect, and I totally agree about the thread & kitty thing. I've had to pull thread out of my kitty's throat...but luckily she'd only swallowed about 10" and no needle. shudder!!

Oh and I've never cross stitched with variegated thread...I'm intrigued.


I always wondered what was up with that ugly cross stitch fabric. Now I know it is really waste canvas! I guess that is what happens when you teach yourself and don't read anything about it before you start. I've been doing cross stitch for almost 20 years and I just learned a ton from this!


So many questions! Where to start? Okay, I am not a complete cross stitch novice. I have completed a few projects LONG AGO. I have stitched on aida and on linen. I have not stitched anything for years but just got back into it when I found the nicest Scotty dog pattern that I want to complete for my brother who just lost his precious Stanley to cancer. It is not at all cutsey and is mostly done in muted brownish blackish tones so very subtle.
Ok..the questions.
1.I am doing this on Aida 18 count (although I'm not that fond of it..seems kind of clunky) because I have discovered that since the last time I stitched..I have gone blind. I have to look at the pattern without glasses (farsighted) and then put on my bi-focals to see the actual holes in the fabric. The pattern changes colors ALOT. I am thinking that because of this, the best plan of attack is to thread about 8 needles and then switch back and forth just like you said above. Otherwise I will have the messiest looking back. And I'm afraid that I'm neurotic enough to care. Ugh.
2. Do you always use a hoop? This piece is fairly large and I've never used a hoop. I have always worried about pulling my stitches out of shape. Does an iron take those hoop marks out?
I love this tutorial!
On another note, I just completed reading your entire archive. Oh honey! It took me a week of dedicated reading because sometimes I would have to stop and take notes on recipes, crafts, etc. I feel like I've been put through the wringer! You are a fascinating all the best ways! I have to say that sometimes when I look at the pics you take of Clover, she looks as if she is on the cusp of speaking..actually speaking in human language. She's obviously so intelligent. :) On my end, I live with an incorrigible Chihuahua, an illusive basement cat and the world's naughtiest Labrador (also the sweetest!).

Jan Olson

What a wonderful tutorial. You explained the details so well. The pictures were great. I can't wait to start on this one ! Very exciting. I don't know what the price will be for the kit and I don't really care ~ it will be well worth it. If I am going to take the time to create something I like to do it well and with quality materials. I finished the Daisy Chain Sampler and gifted it to a dear friend. I must admit it was hard to part with as it turned out so beautiful but I have to give you the credit for much of the success of the sampler. You inspire and are so encouraging. YOU and your creativity are a very special gift and I am so grateful you share it with all of us. Thank you Alica, and Andy too :)


Spring! Very excited :)

Natalie VV

So timely!
I used to do this, but I would need a refresher to pick it up again. But not five minutes ago our friends gave Maria, our seven year old daughter, a cross stitch kit of an adorable Australian wren... the "Supreme Blue Fairy Wren!"
Not sure if this is too ambitious for her, but I feel more confident having your tutorial on hand. Thank you!


I have always loved cross stitching ~ beginning with a blank sheet of fabric and having it become an artwork!
Thank you for the tutorial ~ can't wait for the sampler!


I do the bottom legs first and then come back over rather than whole stitches. I've not used variegated threads so will bear your advice in mind if I do.
I always photocopy my chart and then use a "highlighter" pen to mark off the squares as I complete them.
I used to use a hoop but now prefer to work without one (even on my large North Wind picture as I seemed to spend so much time adjusting them.
I have the "best embroidery book in the whole universe", it is excellent.
Carol xx

Emily a la Blog

Oh, such teasing!!! No full-size, completed-work-of-art pictures yet! Ack!!!! Can't wait to get my hands on this.


Just when I think the fabulousness of Alicia can't get any greater, up pops a wonder like this post. :-) Such great info and tips. THANK YOU! And the link back to Andy's "man sampler" haa haa haa, how my husband and I laughed all night last spring when we read that one. Now I just need that Winterwoods kit, several rainy days and the cozy kitters piled on my knees. Heaven!

Alice S

well written! My mother is a cross stitch expert. I always remember her sitting around doing cross stitch everywhere we went when I was growing up. I'm slowly following into her footsteps via your inspiration. Thank you for the refresher course.


I'm trying to understand this...
The stitches on the pattern are marked BETWEEN the lines, but the stitches on the fabric go OVER the lines? How do you keep from getting confused about that? I think I would need to draw in the fabric lines on the pattern. Do you think that would help?
(Do you see why my mom beat me the one time she tried to teach me this?)

Laura Bozeman

In college, I worked in a cross stitch store. It was heaven. The owner, an avid stitcher, shared a fabulous technique with me. To begin, cut a long piece of floss, fold it in half, and then thread the needle. Come up from the back with the needle, go back down, and thread the needle through the bent portion of the thread. No tail, no knot, very neat end. Best tip I've ever gotten for cross stitch. :)


I recently found your blog, and have been in heaven ever since. My mother was always handy with a needle - knitting, sewing, cross stitch. I have never done cross stitch, but you have given me the courage. I will order the kit when it becomes available and look forward to creating something lovely. I just love your blog and have already made your lentil soup, black bean soup, apple streusel bread, and that wonderful Dutch oven bread. I have also gotten so many ideas I want to do in my house. Thank you so much for your beautiful posts - I know you work hard.

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