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Cross Stitching in general

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    16 Reviews
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    • More +
      05.02.2013 15:52
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      Advice on cross stitching

      INTRODUCTION

      I have been cross stitching on and off for years now and still to this day I enjoy it, I am glad I have taken it up as one of my hobbies but like any other hobby it can be quite expensive. I don't have a lot of time at the moment for my hobbies apart from when my little goes to school and bed, but to be honest be time he goes to be I am shattered and don't tend to much apart from sit in front of the tele, as I am to tired. When it comes to doing my hobbies in the day it also is a little difficult as there is always chores to do or because I am now a rep for avon that takes up my time too. So I do tend to fit this hobby in when I can.

      HOW DID I GET INTO CROSS STITCHING?

      I got into one day with a friend of mine, she was in the middle of doing one and it looked so beautiful, but did look difficult and thought to myself I would never be able to do anything like that. I never did get to see the finished piece. One Christmas she bought me a winnie the pooh kit, I love winnie the pooh, so this was great, although I was not familiar with cross stitching at all, I gave it a go though as nothing tends to beat me. I actually finished it and that is where it all started for me, if it was not for hers that she was doing I would not have known about this hobby and again if it wasn't for her buying the first kit I wouldn't have tried it out.

      I bought many kits since then unfortunately though I tend to move from one to another too soon and leave many of them half-finished and then can't find the thread to go with the kit. So from now on I will start and carry on until that is finished before buying another one, once I get my head into a cross stitch kit then I can be occupied for hours, although they tend to be slow to make sometimes depending on how fast you are at stitching and also how big the kit is.

      WHAT IS CROSS STITCHING?

      Cross stitching is a hobby; it can be done by adults or children of an older age, cross stitching is a picture made from thread, following a pattern of colours and from different types of stitches. It can be difficult for new beginners to follow but if I can do it anyone can. The material is called Aida, it's a piece of fabric which as many little holes in it, for your thread to go through.

      All cross stitching that you do will use the same materials, pattern, needles, Aida, threads, and you will also need a ring, I will go into all this in more detail for you.

      Pattern

      The pattern is followed by you, which is on a piece of paper and printed on it you will find such things as the type of stitch to be used, the picture that you will be stitching, how many threads to use, how many threads there are, colour of threads which are coded, the pattern is in a grid format but easy enough to follow. The colour of threads to use in the picture are in the code, so in the picture just find that symbol matching on the thread code, then you will know which colour to use for that specific area of the picture. A little tip because the pattern is paper you can cross out what you have stitch by using a pencil, so it is easily rubbed out and can be used again, this is so you don't get confused to where you have stitched and where you haven't.

      Thread

      The thread comes in strands and very long, if you following a pattern within a kit then you will be provided with a card with holes in so that you can separate the colours of strand by placing them in the holes on the card, either they will be done for you with the code written on the top of each colour or you will have to do this yourself. If you don't have these supplied then you can easily make them yourself, get a slim piece of cardboard and punch holes in the edges with a hole puncher. The strands are noted on the pattern, this will enable you to know how many strands you have of each colour and which will complete the picture. Sometimes you will need to use 2 strands per stitch or it can be one, especially on the back stitching. If you do end up running out of the colour then it is easily match at craft shops, but you would normally not run out, I haven't yet when doing a kit.

      Material

      The material you will be stitching on is called Aida this is strong material which can be easily cut down to the size you want it if you're not following a kit, if you are following a kit then you will have right size material to complete the picture. The Aida is strong and long lasting for your stitching, the aid has tiny holes just the right size to put your needle through it. Some aida has bigger holes some are smaller, depending on what is right for you, but the bigger the hole the more strands of thread you will need for each stitch. You can buy this separately from any craft shop, you have to buy the kits at all if you don't want to, especially if your following a pattern either you have yourself or one that you have done before. I would also like to mention that the material will obviously get creased when your stitching onto it, but no need to worry as you can iron them out at the end.

      Needles

      This is a must have obviously; the needles are provided for you in kits, so no need to buy them, although you do only get one, which is enough. You can buy additional needles from anywhere really; they are not special needles to use so any sewing needles will work just as well. I do like to stock up on these as sometimes I might find myself losing them, or borrowing them from my stitching and never putting it back. Be careful when using the needles as they are sharp, keep the needle safe in the material when unaided as you don't little children getting hold of it.

      Rings

      In order to stitch with ease the best thing to buy for this is, are such things as rings, they secure your material when stitching and keeps nice and tight letting you perform good stitches, if you wasn't to use these then you would find yourself in a pickle to say the least, the threads would be very loose and would probably look a mess. You can buy many sizes and made with different materials, you can buy wooden ones, plastic ones or even rubber ones, just place your material around the bottom of the ring then place the top of the ring over the top, then secure it with the screw at the top of the ring, be careful your material isn't crumpled in anyway, keep it nice and straight.

      Kits

      You can buy a cross stitching kit there are many out there and depending on where you shop, how big or small you want it, depends on the price it will cost you. You can buy very small kits that will probably cost you around £2 they would be ideal to get you started especially if you haven't done it before, and want to give it a go. You can pay up to around £30 - £40 maybe more than that in some shops but a big sized one. You can normally get the small ones in the cross stitching magazines which what I sometimes buy. Like I have mentioned in my review you don't need to buy anything when buying a kit because everything is inside and everything you will need to complete it. Although if you don't have a ring then you will have to purchase one depending on the size of your picture.

      Design your own

      There is software out there that can transform pictures of yours into a cross stitch pattern, now I have heard about it but never actually use it, not sure where you can buy them from or how much they are, but I am sure doing a Google search you will probably find it. Or if your imaginative then you can always try your hand at drawing your own design and follow it on the material with your own colored threads something again I have never tried, but would love to try it. If you have any patterns lying about or one that you would like to do again then buying the materials is a must do, although might be more expensive than buying the kits. You can if you have a computer and printer do a search on the internet for free patterns for cross stitching where you can print them off and use, I have done a lot of this in the early days of cross stitch but never put them to use.

      AVAILABILITY & PRICE

      Like I have mentioned depending on where you shop for kits and materials is going to reflect the price you're going to pay. I have bought all my kits off eBay not paid too much for them, you can buy the materials from such places as eBay, The Range, Argos, or even pick them up in the cross stitch magazines, also I know it might be a little expensive but places like hobby craft which is a good place for your hobby needs but can be quite expensive.

      FINAL OPINION

      I don't have much time on my hands at the moment but I know this is a hobby which will always be there and will still remain to enjoy it, it is time consuming, but it doesn't have to be as it is something you can put down and return to at a later date. A little advice for you, when stitching make sure you do the same routine with the stitches, this keeps the stitches clean and tidy, don't stretch your thread across the material, as this wastes the thread, and also makes the stitching on the back look untidy, and can pull the holes in the material causing them to stretch. If you have never tried this hobby then it is one I recommend, like I have mentioned you don't need to be talented in any way to do this, and they make brilliant pictures for your home, when completed as you can place it in a frame.

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      • More +
        10.07.2009 14:48
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        I would recommend it as a hobby, but I must warn you it can be addictive!

        Cross Stitching is one of my favourite hobbies, I have been doing cross stitches ever since I was around 8 or 9 we used to do the big cross stitch patterns at school which I used to love. Then my Gran bought me my first cross stitch kit which was a small blue butterfly and ever since then i've been hooked!

        I don't tend to do as many as I used to but I blame the internet and my Nintendo DS for that! Sitting down and doing a cross stitch always relaxes me and I have found it stops me from snacking as your hands are busy with the cross stitch which is always good. I occasionally watch tv at the same time although I sometimes go wrong if I get carried away with what's on the screen so I find it easier listening to a cd or the radio.

        My favourite cross stitch was one I did for my Mums birthday it was of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia, it really looked effective when it was finished. I also completed a 25th Wedding Anniversary cross stitch for my parents I basically took quite a few designs out of magazines and made a pattern it was a bit tricky to put together but in the end I think it turned out ok. I tend to make the odd Birthday and Mother's Day Cards which just makes it a little bit more special. It all really depends on the amount of free time I have.

        Normally If I want to do a large cross stitch I buy a kit, I find it easier than using a pattern out of magazine and then trying to get the correct colour thread. Although for smaller designs which I use in cards I would find a pattern in a magazine and if I don't have the exact cotton I just substitute the colours and use what I have. Then I would make the card myself which can be a bit fiddly but tends to look quite nice when finished.

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        • More +
          09.05.2009 02:37
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          An absorbing Hobby

          Cross stitch in general:
          Cross-stitch is my favourite hobby; I love sitting watching CSI and making pretty things. It has a reputation for being a bit old fashioned but the range of contemporary designs, fabrics and threads you can get these days in amazing.

          Cross-stitch, (also called counted cross-stitch), is a form of embroidery. You stitch little crosses with coloured thread to make up a pattern. The range of designs available is very varied ranging from very traditional designs right up through to very modern stuff and just about everything else in between.
          I cross-stitch because I find it relaxing and very enjoyable. I like to create things and to be honest cross-stitch is quite easy to pick up and suitable for most people. I get a real sense of achievement when I complete something and though each piece can take a long time, (it takes between an hour and two hours to stitch one square inch), it is all worth it when you see the finished product.

          It can be an expensive hobby but it needn't be. There are lots of ways to cut costs down and if you are a bit careful there is not a lot of waste either. It is certainly cheaper than a night out every week! A lot of the expensive items you may need are one-off costs so once you have say, a good set of scissors or a fancy daylight lamp, you will not to buy those things again.
          It's worth looking out for bulk discounts too; obviously only on the items you will use lots of like black and white thread and plain white fabric.

          I hope some of you give it a go because it is a great, rewarding hobby that will help pass time.
          I would just like to warn you this is a very long piece; feel free to skip bits or not read if you like!

          *** The Stitches ***
          There are several different stitches used in cross-stitch designs. It would be nearly impossible for me to describe them without pictures so I won't bother. The main ones you'll see are:

          > Standard Cross Stitch
          > Tent Stitch (or Half Cross Stitch)

          > Fractional Stitches
          > French Knots and

          > Back-Stitch
          Most kits will include instructions if they include odd stitches and there are a great many books, magazines and websites with descriptions that you should be up and going in no time at all.

          *** The Thread ***
          > Stranded Cotton:

          Normally you will use stranded cotton thread for cross stitch which is sold in "skeins" which are 8 metres long. Each length of thread is made of 6 strands twisted together; for most cross stitch designs you will use 2 of these strands at a time.
          Stranded cotton is what I would recommend for a beginner. The most popular brands are DMC, (www.dmc.com), Anchor, (I can't actually find a website for them) and Madeira, (www.madeira.co.uk).

          > Tapestry Wool:
          For very large designs on large holed canvas you may use tapestry wool which is very thick and makes a chunky, almost knitted effect but the detail isn't as fine as smaller cross stitch. You still get very nice results and can achieve some amazing work.

          DMC make very nice tapestry wool but there are lot's of brands out there so have a good look around to find what suits you.
          > Satin Thread:

          Satin thread is more expensive than cotton but is sold in the same 8m skeins and normally the same range of colours. Satin thread has a wonderful sheen and really reflects the light. It makes your finished design really luxurious and rich looking.
          It is a lot more difficult than cotton to work with though, the threads tend to unravel a bit and it breaks easily with the friction of sewing so you need practice and patience. I would wait until you are a confident stitcher before trying satin; I don't want to put anyone off though because it very beautiful and worth adding to your work.

          > Shiny/Metallic Thread:
          You can get a wide range of metallic and sparkly thread which adds some glamour to your work. These, like the satin thread, are tricky to work with but they are worth trying and look amazing in your finished pieces. A lot of Christmas cross-stitch designs call for these threads but feel free to substitute them for standard cotton colours.

          > Scented Thread:
          You can even get stranded cotton that has a scent which is released when you sew; these are quite gimmicky and more expensive. I'm really not sure if they are worth the extra just because they smell nice?!

          I'm sure there are more types that I haven't thought of but these are the most commonly used, (well the tapestry wool isn't used very commonly but I thought I would include it anyway).
          > Light Effects:

          DMC make a range of threads called light effects, (other brands have similar types of thread), light effects are similar to the shiny/metallic threads and in fact a lot of the metallic shades are actually light effects threads. These threads reflect the light and make your design look sparkly. For each light effects shade there is a standard stranded cotton equivalent you just need to remove the letter before the shade number to find the colour you need.
          Light effects are more expensive than standard cotton and are more difficult to work with but they do add a nice touch to your work.

          > Blending Filament:
          Blending filament is a very fine thread with lots of twinkle. You can use it alone or mix it with other threads to add a bit of sparkle to your designs. I often use this when stitching snow as it adds a lovely shimmer.

          Unlike most cross-stitch threads blending filament is sold on 40-50m spools not 8m skeins. It only costs about £1.50 though so it is a cheap way of introducing sparkle and you can use it in sewing machines too.
          > Colour Variations:

          Colour variations threads change colour along their length. Usually they are tonal changes although some completely change colour. I don't like them and think they look messy but they are quite popular. They are a little more expensive than standard cotton but are the same to work with.
          *** The Fabric ***

          > Aida:
          You will most commonly use a fabric called Aida, which is made up of little blocks with holes in. It makes cross stitch very easy as you simply stitch your crosses over the little blocks. Aida has a stitch count the higher the number the more crosses per inch you will get. 14 count, (14 stitches per inch), is most commonly used but you can get lower count, (I've seen as low as 6 count, which used the tapestry wool), and much higher; I think I have seen up to about 32 count. 32 stitches per inch means the stitches are tiny and the detail will be very rich. I guess it's similar to the pixels per inch you get with TVs and monitors, the more pixels the clearer the image.

          > Other Fabric:
          You also get things like Joblan and even-weave which have an even number of fibres which allows you to stitch your crosses evenly, it's slightly trickier than Aida but you'll quickly get used to it. I must admit I don't use these other fabrics very often as they are quite expensive. For a special project though, it would be worth the extra effort and cost.

          > Waste Canvas & Soluble Canvas:
          You can cross stitch onto clothes, t-towels, table cloths and pretty much anything made of fabric. There are two ways of doing this: The first uses "waste canvas" which you tack over the fabric you wish to embellish, stitch your design and then carefully remove the waste canvas by pulling out the threads. The other way is to use soluble canvas which you either tack or iron on to the fabric you wish to decorate and then wash the garment to dissolve the soluble canvas. Both ways are quite simple and produce attractive results. I have tried free hand cross stitching on a bag and it looked okay because I deliberately made the messiness or uneven stitches part of the design but it was tricky and frustrating!

          > Stitchables:
          You can now get pre-made items such as bags and soft toys that have an aida panel for you to add a motif too. These make beautiful and personal gifts, (especially for births and weddings), and make you feel quite proud when they are finished. It is also a nice change to normal fabric.

          *** The Equipment ***
          You don't NEED much to cross-stitch but there are lot's of things to make your life easier, here are a few.

          > Needles:
          You will use blunt needles most of the time and they will be quite large and have a decent sized eye to make threading them easier. You want a needle that will go through the holes of your fabric without stretching them but that won't go through the holes without a little push; basically not too big, not too small. You can get gold plated needles and although they are not necessary they glide through the fabric and make stitching a lot easier. Obviously being gold plated they cost a little more than standard needles but are a wonderful gift for a stitcher or a great treat for yourself!

          When you are doing "backstitch" or "blackwork", (see further down), you will need a sharp needle to keep the stitches very crisp.
          > Frames and Hoops:

          I hate hoops and rarely use frames; I prefer to hold the fabric in my hands while I stitch but I am in the minority. Hoops are made of two circles of plastic or wood and you sandwich the fabric between them and it holds it tight. They can be moved around to allow you to stitch a certain part of the design but they stretch the fabric and it takes ages to iron out the creases when you have finished, (you should ALWAYS take your stitching out of the frame when you are not stitching to minimise this but you will still get it).
          You can get frames that are shaped like Christmas trees or bells and these double up as picture frames when you are finished and these are quite good as you don't have to worry about the fabric being stretched at all. These are quite nice to use to make little gifts or as decorations at Christmas.

          Frames are better and don't stretch the fabric so much they are necessary for large pieces of work and I much prefer smaller designs! There are so many types; I simply couldn't list them all here. Prices can range from £3.50 up into the hundreds depending on size, quality and design. Shop around for the best deals as many places really over charge.
          > Magnetic Boards:

          A magnetic board can be very useful for helping to keep your place on a chart, (a design). Most people would recommend photo copying your charts so you can make notes/mark your place/change colours etc without spoiling the original and because books can be a little unwieldy. To use a magnetic board you simply place the chart on the board and use magnets to mark your place.
          You can buy many different magnetic boards but it's easy to make your own with fridge magnets and the lid off of a biscuit tin!

          > Thread Organisers:
          Thread organisers can be made of anything from card to metal and plastic. They are simply a rectangle shape with holes for you to thread your thread through and they have a space to write the shade number or the symbol from the chart you are using.

          There is little point paying for them as you can make them easily using cardboard, (like the sides of a cereal box) and a hole punch. Thread organisers are especially useful if you choose your own colours instead of the suggested ones or if you make up your own designs.
          > Bobbins:

          Bobbins tend to be made of cardboard but some are plastic. They are more or less H shaped and you wind the thread around them to keep it tidy and stop it from tangling, (stranded cotton etc tangles faster than wires)! They will usually have a space for the shade number/chart symbol.
          Again this is something you can easily make from cardboard although the plastic ones are more durable and really aren't that expensive.

          > Box Files:
          This isn't technically cross-stitch equipment but I have a big, (slightly larger than A4 size), box file that I keep my current project in. It means I can keep my chart/book, scissors, needles, threads etc for that one project separate and easy to find. It makes taking my project with me places easier too and I don't loose my threads so often!

          > Scissors:
          You need a pair of sharp scissors to cut your thread, only use them for cutting thread and they will last you years. I have a little pair shaped like a heron which are very common and should cost no more than £5.00. To sharpen simply cut some tin foil from time to time.

          You will also need a pair of tailor's scissors for cutting your fabric. These may cost around £10 but will last forever and make cutting your fabric quicker, easier and much tidier.
          Obviously you can use kitchen scissors, (I did until very recently), but they are not as sharp and can cause the threads and fabric to fray which makes it harder to work with.

          > Storage Boxes/Files:
          You will find some good storage boxes and files for your cross-stitch supplies will make things last longer and look better and of course it will make things easier for you and let you spend more time stitching!

          Where possible keep your thread on bobbins so it doesn't get tangled and knotted as this makes it harder to work with and in the case of knots can break the threads and cause waste.
          It is a good idea to keep spare fabric flat and in a non-airtight box separated by acid free tissue paper. This will allow the fabric to "breathe" and prevent mildew and keep it flat and crease free. Don't panic if your fabric gets creased though a quick press with your iron through a clean white cloth will get out any creases in no time.

          I keep my needles in a tin. I have put a large flat magnet in the bottom which the needles stick to so when I want to use one I simply have to tip the magnet out and I don't get needles everywhere.
          You should keep your scissors in a pouch so the blades don't get bent and loose and so that they don't damage anything else. Most scissors come in a pouch but you can buy them cheaply and make them easily.

          Charts should be kept in folders; I keep mine in ring binders inside those plastic pockets. You can use them without taking them out of the pocket which protects them too. If you feel like it and have lots of charts you can try to organise them to make them easier to find. I try to keep mine organised by theme like Birthdays, Christmas etc.
          *** Designs ***

          There are such a wide variety of cross-stitch designs available. You can get tiny motifs for adding to clothes, making greetings cards etc, huge pictures, samplers, (traditional samplers consist of lettering and motifs used to together to create one piece of work, they used to be used by young ladies to show off their skills; a kind of CV at the time) and pretty much anything else you can think of.
          > Books

          Books are my favourite source of designs and inspiration. They often contain a mix of small motifs and larger pictures. Some will also include projects like advent calendars or scissor keeps. I love to use lots of motifs to make a sampler or for use in greetings cards and just pick the colours I want to use from my huge stash!
          Books can be expensive brand new but Amazon normally has a huge selection of second hand books very cheap and I have found lots in charity shops and car boot sales which have cost between 25p and a couple of pounds. If a book is cheap enough I will always buy it because you never know when you will want a specific design.

          > Charts
          Charts are one the cheapest ways to get cross-stitch designs; they cost a few pounds each. You can get a huge amount of free charts online too which helps keep the cost down!

          > Kits
          Kits normally contain all the thread and fabric you will need as well as a chart. Often they will have a needle too and may contain other embellishments. Very rarely you will get a kit that even contains a frame to display your finished work in.

          Kits start at about 99p and can go up into the hundreds depending on size, brand, quality etc. Make sure you shop around as the prices from place to place vary a lot for the same product.

          *** Making Your Own Designs ***

          Making your own designs is relatively simple and can be very rewarding. There are many computer programmes and websites that will turn pictures into charts for you so you can stitch your house, cat etc.
          You can also make your own designs using graph paper, (treat each square as a stitch), a metal ruler and some colouring crayons. Start with something simple like a heart or a flower and maybe try some lettering. You can then add them together to make a sampler.

          Old computer games like Pac-Man and Mario have a low pixel count which makes them great for converting to cross-stitch! You simply have to print the picture out as big as you can and stitch each pixel in the relevant colour. It can be great fun to stitch some retro classics!
          *** Displaying Your Work ***

          > Frames:
          Framing your work makes lovely, durable pictures for you and further generations to enjoy. Well framed and well looked after cross-stitch can last hundreds of years and would make a lovely personal heir loom.

          You can use pre-made frames but often work will be an odd size and you will need to get a frame made. Online there are a great many framers and the prices aren't too bad for something that will last so long.
          If you display your work on the wall make sure it is not in direct sunlight as this will causes excessive faded and try not to put things in damp rooms such as bathrooms as the moisture will cause the stitching and fabric to rot over time.

          > Cards:
          I use a lot of my cross-stitch to make greetings cards. It is cute way to display your work and share it with friends and family. You can get pre-cut aperture cards at craft shops and online. The prices vary again so have a good look round.

          > Other Items:
          You can all sorts of things for displaying cross-stitch from trinket boxes to coaster, from rulers to key-rings. The options are limitless so have fun and be creative.

          *** Storing Your Work ***
          > Smaller Pieces:

          Smaller pieces should be placed flat I a breathable box, (like a cardboard archive box), with layers of acid-free tissue paper between them.
          > Larger Pieces:

          Larger pieces should be rolled around a card-board tube with a layer of tissue paper under them and a layer over them. Never store your stitching in plastic or cellophane as it attracts dust and moisture.
          *** Stockists (Online) ***

          > www.sewandso.co.uk
          > www.alitadesigns.com

          > www.birdcrossstitch.com
          > www.johnsoncrafts.co.uk

          > www.superstitcher.com
          > www.framecraft.com

          *** Free Designs ***
          > www.freepatternsonline.com:

          > www.alitadesigns.com
          > www.birdcrossstitch.com

          Well if you got to the end - well done. Thanks for reading.

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          • More +
            20.09.2002 23:06
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            I have recently gained interest in a brand new hobby, which has even took me away from the many an hour I used to while away on here ? I have taken up cross stitching. This was a spur of the moment thing. I went for a day out at Pollok Country Park in Glasgow, and I was doing the obligatory browse through the gift shop, when I spotted a ?kit?, to be completed in half cross stitch, and showing a view of the city of Glasgow. My kit cost £34.99, and completed, it measures about 15? by 12? so it is a decent sized piece of artwork. It took me three weeks to finish, working on it most evenings, and it looks rather good, if I say so myself, despite a few errors I made along the way, which I was able to recover from. If you are new to cross stitch, I advise you start with a kit. Kits contain the fabric on which you will create your design, an ample supply of wool or cotton, a chart of the design (this is called counted cross stitch), and usually a needle. My advice would be to start with a design which you complete in wool, as it is less fiddly to work with; and to find a design that uses a half cross stitch (as this is twice as quick to make as a whole cross stitch design!). Thankfully, my purchase met these criteria, although this was purely by luck, as it was a spur of the moment purchase. You can also buy pre printed pieces of Evenweave with a design printed on them. This eliminates the need for a chart as you follow the colours on the fabric. Logic would dictate that this should be easier as following a complex design in counted cross stitch can be a strain on the eyesight. However, with this alternate type, it requires more judgement on exactly what colour to stitch each fabric block as a tiny area may have two colours merging together. I am half way through a large scale project of this type at present. Fabrics -------- There are two main types of fabric used in cross stitch embroidery, Aida and Evenweav
            e. Aida tends to be the more common, and this is a block weave fabric, where the stitch goes over each little block. The fabric has a count value, which is the number of stitches per inch. This can range from 7 to 18, and if you imagine 18 stitches in every inch then you can see why large designs using cotton thread can take a long time to make up. Evenweave fabric, is, as its name suggests, evenly weaved and the count is higher as the stitches go over two threads of fabric. You can get different colours of fabrics, and this is useful for the background, meaning you don?t have to stitch the whole area a particular colour, such as sky for instance. Threads --------- The main thread is stranded cotton, although my two large projects are in wool, which I think is easier to use. You can get hundreds and hundreds of shades of colours in both fabric types. The main manufacturers of this thread are Anchor and DMC. Threads cost approximately 50p per skein. You can also purchase special threads such as metallic or variated coloured threads. Needles --------- Tapestry needs are blunt and come in different sizes. The low the number, the larger the needle. You can also purchase crewel needles when working on different fabrics such as satin or fine linen. Hoops ------- Hoops are available from embroidery stores from a few pounds upwards. They are available in different sizes, depending on the size of your work. The hoop consists of two circles, and the fabric is trapped between the two to create a taut surface for stitching. It is not recommended to leave your incomplete work in the hoop when you are not stitching as this can stretch the fabric. Rotating frames can also be used for larger designs, and depending on the size, these can cost from about £5 to over £100 (for the serious stitchers!). You will also need a pair of small sharp embroidery scissors for cutting your threads. You need to keep y
            our threads organised with this hobby, and, after managing with a plastic bag when completing my first project, I invested in a fairly large embroidery case, with ample storage for threads and needles, and space for smaller stitching projects. What can you make? ------------------------ The most common item is a design which can then be framed, and these can range in size from an inch or two across, to large pieces of artwork. Stitching designs for cards is also very popular, although you need to start early to make enough for Christmas. I find I can stitch one to two cards per night, depending on the size. You can buy pre cut card mounts and sized envelopes for cards. Packs of these cards are available from about £5. Using a fabric called waste canvas, you can also stitch designs on to table cloths or table runners, napkins and similar items. The waste canvas is used to align the stitches, and is carefully removed once the design is completed. Samplers, containing lots of little images, can be created for baby births, weddings, and anniversaries, and in the case of babies, there are hundreds of designs available. It is recommended you stitch most of the design, and then you simply wait for the birth date to complete the project with the name and weight! Cushion kits are also popular, containing everything you need to complete the cushion after the design has been stitched. Many designs on Aida are outlined in black stitching, although my favourite designs do not require this outlining, as the design is good enough in itself. It is ultimately a matter of personal preference. This is not a particularly cheap hobby though. Some kits can cost as much as £50 or more and there is a large time commitment required to complete a project. It is very easy to get engrossed in this hobby and then find you have too many projects on the go. It is also important not to ensure you are comfortable at work, with ad
            equate lighting so that you can clearly see the different shades of thread, and adequate support for your back and neck. Intense stitching can cause your hand to ache too, and you should rest it often. Further Information ----------------------- There are a handful of monthly magazines on the market dedicated to cross stitching. These are available in the larger newsagents and supermarkets. Cover prices are usually around £3 and include a free gift such as a small card kit or a little design book. The books are all stuffed full with designs to sew, and suppliers of kits, blank cards, threads, hoops etc. There are also lots of good sites on the internet, who display the types of kits they have available. If you are interested, a search under ?cross stitching? will have you browsing for hours. So go on and be Creative! Helen Bradshaw September 2002

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              27.03.2002 00:53
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              A Millennium cross stitch kit lured me into cross stitch. My mom said she would buy the kit if I sewed it. When it arrived I could not believe it was simply a blank piece of Aida and that I had to count each stitch. I foolishly thought the design would be printed on. I was very close to sending it back, but I enjoy a challenge and became determined to suceed. Two years on it is still not quite finished as I have had breaks whilst doing Christmas, birthday and even engagement cards. Now I've got the bug, I no longer want to buy cards, but cross stitch them instead. I find designing your own is so much cheaper. I would also recommend buying one or two of the cross stitch magazines on offer at seasonal times to get patterns and ideas. Then buy the Aida and threads separately, i've had some great bulk buy bargains on threads from markets. I have to say though that the card board mounts are expensive, even on the internet. I have made my own but it takes ages and doesn't give the professional edge that you get with proper ones. I would check out internet auctions though, as there are many patterns and accessories available. I love country music and got one with a country and western theme, I cannot wait to start it. I'm so glad I sent off for the Millennuim cross stitch kit, as i've had so much fun since. When it is finished I am going to dedicate it to my Grandad who sadly died last summer.

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                21.01.2002 20:54
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                I started cross stitching as a child. My mother was always doing something creative, and i always wanted to help. I think, in the end, she got fed up with me always pinching her needles and threads. I was really pleased, when she bought me my own things. To get you started, you will need: *Aida, this is the material, that you stitch onto. It comes in 14 count, 18 count ect. The count determines how big the holes are. *Threads. These vary in cost, but i do recommend that you buy the more expensive ones. In the end your work will look a lot more pleasing. Plus the cheaper ones tend to knot. *Needles. You can buy these in a variety of sizes. Make sure your needle is not to thick for the holes, in your material, or you could pull it out of shape. *A patern. There are plenty of cross stitching magazines out there. They are not badly priced either, the majourity of them. *A hoop. This is not an essential, but it helps to keep the shape of your work. If you are a beginner, then try to start on something small and not to tricky. Try and stick to whole stitches. When you have mastered this, you will then be able to go onto half stitches and back stitch. As far as hobbies go, this one will keep you hooked for days, not just hours. It isn't expensive. You can pick material up for less than a pound in some shops. They will be cut off bits, but they are big enough to get a two or three smaller designs on. You will need a bit of patience, and be able to follow a pattern. As long as you can do this, you will be fine. It is an ideal hobby for people of all ages. I think it is especially good for children. It helps with there hand and eye coordination, as well as there creativity. You can make a lot of things from cross stitch. Some of the things i have made are: *Cards *Bookmarks *Glasses holder *Key rings *Coasters *Book covers Anot
                her thing i like, is that you can cross stitch onto more a less any fabric you like. If you have a plain boring bath towel, why not cross stitch a fish border on the end of the towel. This can be achieved, by tack stitching a scrap bit of aida to the towel. Cross stitch your design, making sure you sew through the aida and the towel. When it is complete, dampen your stitching with a wet cloth. Then slowly and carefully, making sure you don't pull the design out of shape, pull the aida out, one strand at a time. This can be a time consuming project, but the end result can look amazing. I do suggest you keep this technique for the small designs though. It can be too tricky, with a big design. If you are a serious cross stitcher, why not make a load of things and then go to a craft show, and sell what you have made. If you have made a good job, then your work will sell. Cards are always in demand, so are keyrings and bookmarks.

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                  14.09.2001 08:09
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                  I mean there are worse things to be addicted to aren't there? I mean I've written about others before (alcohol etc)! In this case it is a hobby which has become an addiction offering me fulfilment, enjoyment, relaxation and admiration - now you can't say that for many addictions! Still confused? I'm talking about cross-stitching - not just the reserve of bored housewives and grannies - I know of a few of us younger folk that love it. I first become entranced by this hobby about a year ago - stuck at home all day through illness and unable to pursue most of my prior daily activities I was at a loss with what to do with my spare time. I loved knitting but found this awkward due to muscular problems - I needed something easier to handle, light but not too difficult. And so I discovered it - cross-stitching! I started off by completing very small, basic kits aimed at children which were available for a few pounds from Tescos. Then I began to buy magazines on the subject, started buying larger more complicated kits and was given cross-stich design software as a present. Now I am totally hooked! It is a relatively inexpensive hobby to take up as a beginner and very easy to learn although more complicated designs obviously demand more experience and expertise. The finished articles can be framed as pictures, made into greetings cards, fridge magnets, clothing decoration - the possibilities are endless and inspiring. Having said that most of my finished projects remain stored in a box as I am always to eager to start the next project without framing ( or whatever) the one I've just completed. However whenever I have someones birthday or an occasion looming I always stitch a special card rather than buy one. Pre-packed kits can be bought for anything from about £4.00 upwards and generally contain everything you need - material, threads, chart and needle - so no purchase of special materials need be u
                  ndertaken. If you get slightly more ambitious - like myself - you can buy magazines and join special clubs which supply the charts for myriad designs and you then select your own fabrics and threads to complete the designs to your taste. This can, sometimes, work out more expensive than buying kits but I often find I am left with a lot of leftover thread from kits which can then be utilised on freelance designs. Charts can be bought from about £5 upwards, lengths of material (usually Aida count or Evenweave) can be bought from about £3 upwards and threads can only cost about 40-50p per hank - so the total expense can be entirely within your hands depending on what you want to make. When stitching your piece it is advisable to use an embroidery hoop or frame to keep the fabric taut to obtain an even, undistorted design and allow ease to see what you are stitching - especially on larger designs. I am completely taken by this hobby as you can probably tell, I find it totally absorbing, relaxing and de-stressing and recommend it to anyone remotely creative!

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                    02.09.2001 03:55
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                    When I had cross stitch lessons at school I thought it was a hobby for ladies of middle age or older, or characters in Elizabeth Gaskell and Jane Austen novels. Now I am quite addicted to stitching, I find it a good way to relax and be creative at the same time. I started out with kits and still stitch them now and again, but generally I design my own charts for myself, family and friends. I find that most people really appreciate a gift that you have taken the time and care to design and stitch for them. Getting started.... I think that the easiest way to start is to buy a kit from a craft shop. These contain a chart,instruction leaflet, aida fabric, threads and a needle, so you can start right away. The only other item you will need is a pair of scissors. Start with a small project at first , that way you won't need a frame or hoop, and you will be more likely to finish it. Stitching does take time, on average one square inch per hour, so it's best to start small. Skills needed... All you really need is to be able to count and sew a simple cross stitch and maybe backstitch for outlining. The easiest fabric to start on is called aida, this varies in the number of holes, most kits contain 14 count fabric which has 14 holes per inch, this is quite easy to see and work . You can get finer counts 16 or 18 for finer and more intricate designs, but remember the higher the count the longer it takes to complete. The main thing is to read the instructions, sort your threads and label them, find the centre of the fabric and start from there, once you have the first few crosses made there will be no stopping you. Fabrics and threads...Aida is the most popular and simple fabric to cross stitch, but you can also buy linen, evenweave, afghans, aida band to decorate towels and other fabrics to work on, in many colours. If you want to stitch little motifs on to clothes, you can buy a product called waste canvas, which you put over the ga
                    rment to give you the squares to count, and then is pulled out when the design is complete. The most used thread is a six stranded cotton or floss, the two most popular makers with many shades are DMC or Anchor. The main thing to remember is that you hardly ever use all six strands at once, mostly you will use two strands whilst cross stitching. You can also buy metallic threads, beads and buttons to add to your projects. Things to stitch... Pictures, wedding and birth samplers, cushions, bibs, towels, bookmarks, cards, clothes, curtains, you are only limited by your imagination. I started off with a couple of babies bibs, then moved on to pictures, a family tree sampler I designed myself, cushions and an afghan throw, and a millenium sampler, once you start its hard to stop. Once you are hooked you will probably want to get a few extras.. A frame or hoop for holding larger pieces of work, gold plated needles which go through fabric more easily, a chart holder, a lamp and possibly a magnifyer for detailed work. I also keep a look out for antique pin cushions, sewing boxes etc. as it's nice to have special accessories when stitching. Your own designs... This is much easier than you may think and you don't have to be a great artist to get a good result. An easy way to start is to draw or trace a simple outine onto graph paper to make your chart, you may then want to progress to a design software programme. Design Software... You can get programmes starting at around £20 for the beginner going up to hundreds for the professional. The beginner programmes are quite good and save all the tracing, rubbing out and graph paper. They also come with motifs that you can arrange to make your own design. Some of them also have a feature for converting photographs into designs, but you need a really sharp photograph to make a useable chart, I have found this feature useful for converting simple cartoon images into charts though.
                    Books... The library is also a great place for cross stitchers. Here you can find books to show you basic and advanced stitches, copyright free patterns and of course inspiration. Magazines... You will find plenty of cross stitch magazines on the newsagents shelf, these offer advice, ideas, free charts and list suppliers.They often offer a small kit as a free gift. Supplies... You can buy cross stitch kits in needlework shops, craft shops, gift shops,garden centres, some supermarkets and even Argos and Index. More specialist fabrics and threads from needlecraft shops, mail order and the internet. The Internet... There are lots of sites offering charts, advice , supplies, message boards for cross stitchers. Clubs... You can often find out about local stitchers groups from your library, needlecraft shop or national groups like the Cross Stitchers Guild from magazines. Local groups are a good way to make friends, exchange ideas, and even start a large joint project to be given to a Church or Communtiy centre. Fund raising... Cross stitchers are popular with fetes , school fayres etc. as you produce bookmarks, pincushions, needlecases to sell from scraps of fabric and thread at little or no cost. Think your too young or cool to cross stitch? Well Liz Hurley is reputed to relax with a little needlepoint, I just wonder why someone who can sew had to hold her dress together with safety pins. Stitching is also sociable in that you can still chat with your family and friends, watch TV or listen to music whilst sewing. One thing you can't do is eat, so it could be an aid to slimming as well. So it's relaxing, creative and fun, for all ages and sexes. Have a go! Daisy.

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                      07.08.2001 05:14
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                      Am am now 27 years old and have three children, until I got my computer and connected to the net, I could be found every evening, and most of the day before I started work, sitting in my favourite chair cross stitching. My first project was a little birth announcement card which I completed just after the birth of my first son, who is now 7. Until then I hadn't really thought of cross-stitching as something I could do. From there it became almost addictive, and has helped me to cut down on my smoking as I get so engrossed in it that I don't want to stop. From that first tiny piece I have moved on to bigger and better things, and whilst holidaying at my youngest son's Godmother's house found a beautiful poem about hugs, typed on a small piece of paper, so decided to give designing a go. I got some squared A4 paper and started. The finished chart was on 9 A4 sheets. I stitched it and sent it to my son's godmother's daughter so that it could be given to her at her surprise 50th Birthday party with a message to say sorry we couldn't be there. The only problem is that I cut it so fine I didn't get a piccy of it. I have also completed a beaded design of Henry VIII and all his wives which I thought I would never be able to do as the beads were so tiny. There are so many kits about that I have ended up with a big box full of kits that I like and haven't got round to doing yet!! I will eventually. Since there are so many different styles and designs about at quite reasonable prices there is something for everyone, and I tend to find myself doing things for other people. So far apart from my son's Godmother, my mother and father in law have one each, my mum has one, my sister, my children, and I have one on the go for my fathers 50th birthday in January 2002. I think that anyone can do cross stitch, and personally I love seeing a blank piece of canvas turning into a p
                      icture before your eyes. One hint, if you want to start, then start small as the satisfaction of completing your first project will be enough to spur you on to bigger and better things.

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                        02.08.2001 15:28
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                        3 years ago I genuinely felt that cross stitch was for old people - not for someone like me. My 51 year old mother-in-law has cross stitched for 20 years and spends every night engrossed in some form of needlework. And then my perception was shattered when a friend of mine who is the same age as me brought her cross stitch into work. I took the mick out of her and her 'hobby for the old'! She took it well and said I ought to give it a go. I laughed at her and said that it wasn't my cup of tea. I would rather go to the pub or watch TV. So, 3 months on (Dec 1998) I had this bizarre urge to buy a cross stitch kit! I have no idea why as I had shown no interest before. I bought a little kit from John Lewis of 2 metallic gold letters from the Coleshill collection. I was going to stitch my partner's and my own initials (how sweet!!!). At the time, my partner found this hilarious and took the mick out of me, calling me 'old woman' and 'mother hubbard'! But I persisted, and now.....well, I am totally addicted!!! I find cross stitching so relaxing and the sense of achievement when completing a project is amazing! I love to stitch anything related to my homeland of Cornwall, lighthouses and cats. I also stitch presents for my family and friends, such as wedding samplers and cards. I love giving people my work because it has a personal touch. When I was at school, sewing was never my strong point - in fact my teacher used to laugh at my efforts as they were so poor!! I would love to return to her and show her my capabilities now. I am extremely proud to be a cross stitcher. Since taking this hobby up I can honestly say I have never ever been bored. It fills so many gaps, and relieves stress after work. I can highly recommend it. It is also an inexpensive hobby if you want it to be - I find many a bargain on eBay. Give it a go!!!

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                          25.05.2001 21:23
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                          The appeal of cross-stitch is one of the mysteries of loife... I picked up a small kit just over a month ago and am now hooked. Most people start off with 'kits' which have everything you need in them except for a pair of scissors. From small kits which are great for carrying around with you (what else that comes in such a small size can occupy you for so long) to the more complex kits, the relaxing challenge of cross stitch is strangely addictive. Although kits may not seem good value, the hours taken up by the projects far outweigh any other similarly priced activities. With large craft superstores opening up everywhere, it is becoming easier and cheaper to take up this hobby. No problems with literature either because there are more cross stitch magazines on sale than you would believe at your local WH Smith! Of these, I recommend 'World of Cross Stitching' which is useful for both starters and advanced stitchers. It also features nice designs that you might actually want to stitch! For more advanced stitchers looking for beautiful designs that are more challenging, I recommend Cross Stitch Gallery, which also sells kits of all of its designs at low prices. The flipside of cross stitching is the design. This could be a hobby in itself - there are a variety of software packages available that help you design your own patterns from scratch or from a photograph. I'm currently working on my first design. Seeing the idea run from conception to completion is even more rewarding. I would only recommend this route if you're experienced with computers though. The appeal of cross stitch is maximised by its simplicity - you don't need to sew to be able to do it. I think I should stop trying to explain how enjoyable it is. Try your hand at it yourselves! I recommend starting with a cross-stich magazine with a free kit as these are often basic and all the instructions are within the magazine itself.
                          Fuss free!

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                            20.11.2000 21:14

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                            I love Cross Stitching I have been doing it since I was about 13yrs old. I have been doing on and off for the last 15 yrs. That gives away my age. It can be an expensive hobby. But it is on that will create treasures that people will love and keep for the rest of there lives. I once had from a cross stitch club a pillow but rather than make it in to a pillow ( I am really rubbish at normal sewing.)So I mounted it on some board and put it in a frame and my mother loved it as her xmas present. And even had the cheek to ask me if I had done it myself. I go to a well know hobby shop and buy my sets from there. But there are plenty of places even on the web to buy products. The last time I went there I spent about £42 but came out with a 8 kits. That will last a long time in my house as we have other hobbies such as reading and the internet in our house. But I do not like it. I spent all afternoon wrapped up in a blanket on my sofa doing my cross stitch. It is suppose to be a present but I am not sure if I will get it finished in time. As I have to send it away. So I have about 2 weeks. As long as I do nothing else of course like eat and sleep and go to work. Even my husband cross stitches he is still on first one. It has taken him nearly two years. After keep going back to it and doing an OU degree. But trust him to choose a really hard one. But that is men for you. I would recommend it to any one .

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                            12.11.2000 21:08
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                            I started doing cross stitch about 15 years ago. I was getting bored just watching the television everynight so I thought that I would give it a go. I dont know what made me choose cross stitch but I saw a little kit in a shop so I bought it just to see how I would get on with it. Now, fifteen years later I am still addicted to it. I have always got a project inhand although these days it does take me ages to complete one. If you are just started out on this, I would recommend that you buy a kit as this will have everything you will need in it. You get a piece of cloth that you will be sewing your masterpiece on, all the threads you will need plus the pattern. The pattern may look daunting at first but they are really easy to follow. Each square on the pattern is one cross stitch and each symbol is a different colour. You will have a list that tells you which colour relates to each symbol. Thats all there is too it! Simple! Once you feel that you have mastered the basics you can move on to a more complicated patterns. This usually means alot more colours so I tend to use a pencil just to shade the stitches that I have done so it is easy to find where I got to. I find it easier to put each colour on a little plastic bobin and write the number of each colour on it. This keeps the threads all tidy so they wont all tangle up together. The main type of fabric I use is called Aida and you can buy it in different "counts". This mean that you can have so many holes to an inch. You can get 12, 14,16 or even 18! I tend to use 14 as it gives good results but you can actually see all the holes. If you are a bit on the creative side you can make all sort of things with your cross stitch works. You can make cards, cushions and even Christmas stockings for the kids. I tend to just frame mine and they do look very effective. So if you are bored in the evening why not give cross stitch ago. I did and now I am hooked!

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                              30.08.2000 04:41
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                              I discovered cross stitch when a friend sent me a cross stitch wedding invite. Up until then I thought that it was only pictures that you could cross stitch, once I discovered that you could do all sorts of other things I was hooked. I tend to cross stitch for other people, i.e. I do special cards such as weddings, birth of babies etc. There's load of different card mounts to buy and for a pack of five at around £2.50 it's quite a lot cheaper then buying a card in the shops. My favourite item to stitch is a guest towel, basically it's just big enough to wipe your hands on and it has a little Aida strip down the bottom of it. However, it is extremely useful to give someone who's just had a baby. It's ideal for slinging on your shoulder whilst nursing the baby and for mopping up all the "spills"!!! Stitch a suitable baby motif and it's a lovely gift. I've also stitched using waste canvas. This enables you to stitch a design on an item of clothing or something like a table cloth. You place the waste canvas on the material and stitch through them both. Once the design is finished to wet the design and the waste canvas becomes all soft and you can just gently pull it out. I find cross stitch lovely and relaxing and really enjoy making something for someone else. I also find that the recipients are really touched by the fact that I've made something for them. What could be better then that? Give it a go, it's not difficult to follow a pattern and the materials aren't that expensive to get you started. I'll be starting on my Christmas cards soon!!

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                                21.08.2000 01:36
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                                I'm sure every cross stitcher has read the adverts for this book club in cross stitch magazines. I finally gave into temptation and joined this club last year. Like all book clubs you can buy a lot of introductory products very cheaply if you agree to buy one product out of each club magazine. I was very pleased with the introductory products I received. I got several cross stitch books for a few pounds each plus free aida and threads. My only complaint concerned the fact I bought an afghan as part of my introductory offer. When it arrived it was afghan cloth and therefore unhemmed, in the advert it was made to sound like a completed afghan blanket. The magazines were sent once every few months which pleased me as I was worried I'd be expected to have to buy something once a month. You also receive a general catalogue with the cross stitch one which gives you more choice and there were some lovely books in this catalogue. The discounts aren't that great especially once you've added on the postage costs which are quite high. I expect you could find cheaper books on the internet. One thing you have to look out for with these clubs is that they choose a book each time a catalogue is sent out. Everyone will receive this unless they choose something else. If you are the sort of person who is a bit forgetful you might end up with an unwanted book. Friends have particularly enjoyed getting cheap kits from this club, I am horribly fussy when it comes to kits so I didn't buy any. I didn't have any problems leaving this club (something I was concerned about, as I have seen reports about other bookclubs on Watchdog!). I would recommend this club, although you shouldn't be surprised if it's not as cheap as you thought. They do offer a wide range of products, if you find it hard to get to a craft shop it would be ideal. Many people get maximum benefit by leaving as soon as the four issues are up and then re-joining in order to get more cheap intro
                                ductory products!

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