Friday 27 June 2014

Siberian Gold Tigers - Day 42 - plus some stuff about the back!!

As the title says this is the 42nd day of stitching and I'm really pleased with the progress. I've slowed down a bit - which I find always happens when I'm nearing a finish - but I still think another 10 days and I'll have it done! I'm really looking forward to seeing it finished, and I'm looking forward to doing something different!

For anyone who's interested I watched another disc of Star Trek The Next Generation Season 5 and The Legend of 1900 while stitching yesterday. Approx. 7 hours worth of stitching.

For the rest of my entry today I want to talk about the back of a cross stitch. There is a lot said about the back, both negative and positive. Some people say it doesn't matter, as long as you're happy with the front. Others say the back should look like the front and be just as tidy.

Personally, I fall somewhere in between. In my opinion if you don't keep the back tidy the front will look lumpy and untidy when you frame it. It's just simple logic.

Whenever I see someone saying "the back doesn't matter" I just think they're crazy. Not worrying about the back at all is just mad. But, if you really don't care that's fine - just don't expect your work to look as good as the people who DO care.

There are different ways of tying off too. Some use knots. Some pass the thread under neighbouring stitches (which can still look like knots when there is lots of confetti stitches).

Here's some examples of my backs.
This is the back of the Siberian Gold tigers:
There is a LOT of confetti stitches in this design (where small groups of stitches are isolated from those of a similar colour), this means a lot of tying on and off. This creates a 'knotty' look to the back of the design. Keeping those knots manageable is the key. Personally, I think this is a moderately messy back.

Here we have another project I'm working on (put aside until the tigers are done). This is a Christmas stocking from Dimensions:

For this design there are larger sections of solid stitching, so less tying off - thereby, less knots or tails (loose ends). I'd class this as a tidy back by my standards.

This is a Flower Fairies design I did about 6 years ago:
Another example of a a tidy back - by MY standards.

For last I have left my Indiana Jones design:
  This is my worst design I've ever done for confetti stitches. There is sometimes a solitary stitch, surrounded by more solitary stitches. As a result the back looks like a rag rug. It's awful - by MY standards. I'm attempting to keep it to a minimum, but, generally, I'm not happy with the back at all.

So, there you go. Yes, cross stitch is meant to be a fun hobby; and I would NEVER want someone to stop just because they can't get the back of their work to be tidy. But, I still think everyone should take as much care as they possibly can simply because of the effect on the front.

Happy stitching!!!


  1. Another reason to care about the back is on some lighter color linens it can/will show through if you crossed over an unstitched area in the back. I recently saw a video where the stitched started and ended her threads on the was fascinating. I'd have to see more to try it...but her back was spectacular. And if it becomes your "style" then it becomes no more work...just different. I'm always looking for ways to do this better without being obsessive about must first be fun. My backs look just like yours...nice work!

    1. I totally agree with you. Keeping the back neat is not a popular opinion to have in the cross stitching world at the moment. But, I was always told that the neatness of the back was an indication of how good a stitcher you were. I always wanted to be a good stitcher so it's what I do and what I teach others.

  2. Because I work on a reasonably heavy, but absolutely superb frame (Millennium Frame from Needle Needs) I have been starting and ending on the front now for several years and I thought to mention how I do it here in case it's useful.

    Please note my first language is Dutch & I find it really tough to explain and if you want to use it, you might want to edit the text to make it understandable.

    It has taken me a couple of years to 'perfect' it for solitary confetti stitches.

    For the start, if it's an even number of threads used in the piece and it's the start of a new thread I loop the thread to start (one double length of thread looped).

    If the thread is re-used (or a single thread) and if it's a decent amount of the same color in that row I start by using a waste knot. Make a small knot at the end of your thread and enter the fabric in the front 4-6 or so stitches away from the first stitch. Then start stitching as you normally would from the first stitch. When your get to the waste knot you simply cut it with scissors. If you were to look at the back you'll see that the thread runs under the stitches between start and where you made the waste knot.

    To end my thread I use a pinhead stitch, which I have fallen in love with. I am not very good at explaining, but there are plenty of tutorials to be found online.

    With confetti I use the pinhead to end as well. If it's a two stitch (or more) confetti you can use the pinhead to start & finish. I use the pinhead horizontal in the first stitch & vertical in the last stitch (don't think there's a logic, I just do it that way and they are always invisible nor add any thickness - hope that makes sense).

    But I had to find a different way to start for solitary confetti stitches. Using a pinhead to start and finish might cause too much happening in between the fabric threads and cause the actual cross stitch to lift because it's not always possible to create two invisible pinheads in one stitch.

    Instead of the 'regular' pinhead I start with two half stitches in the bottom stitch in such a way the thread is perfectly secured. I find it tough to explain, but it's actually really easy and perfectly tight and completely invisible. Then the top half of the cross stitch covers the break between the two quarter stitches that make up the bottom half. I then end with a pinhead stitch in the same space generally vertical, but because the pinhead is now made under an existing stitch.

    If you start & end confetti stitches this way it's invisible from the back.

    I have been cross stitching for about 20 years and even though I am by no means obsessive about the back, I do want to ensure I do not add bulk nor do I enjoy constantly turning my frame.

    Because I work full-time and am a single mom I only cross stitch about an hour a day before bedtime. Therefore it does take me years to complete a project, which is unfortunate as my stash of 'Wanna Be' projects is ever growing.

    I didn't even know people commissioned cross stitch and have always thought that cross stitch is a tremendously underrated art form and that it as such has no sales value.

    This is extremely sad because I think that the fact any artful needlework (whether it be embroidery, needlepoint, cross stitch, petite point etc) has little to no street value is causing this once popular and appreciated art form to become obsolete (and I would consider it to be an unappreciated endangered species at the moment).

    Therefore I think what you're doing is absolutely superb (although I am somewhat envious -- I would Love to cross stitch for a living lol) and I am so glad I found your blog. I look forward to continuing reading it and hopefully pick up a few pointers along the way.