For the last few years a popular crafts and calming activity for my kids has been cross stitch.
It’s simple, it’s relatively inexpensive, and there are loads of patterns to be found for free and low cost online (we mostly go to Pinterest)
I thought I could share some of the basic things you need to get started, and some tips on what to do to get started. Please note: I am definitely an amateur with this craft so I’m sharing how we do it to the best of my understanding, not necessarily what the experts might advise :)
embroidery thread (you can get this at most craft stores for under $1 per colour and for even less if you buy a bundle of colours. You’re looking for the smooth stuff because you’re going to need to be able to separate the strands)
an embroidery hoop (these are only a few dollars as well if you start with a simple bamboo hoop)
needles (they don’t need to be sharp - you can look for embroidery or tapestry needles in the craft shop, or just see what you have hanging around)
How to set yourself up
You’ll want to cut a piece of Aida cloth that is big enough to overhang your hoop by at least a couple of inches. Place the inner circle of the hoop on a table, place the aida cloth over top and then unscrew the outer ring of the hoop enough to be able to press it down over the inner hoop and the cloth, pull the aida cloth tautly and screw closed the hoop
The needle and thread
Cut a length of your embroidery threat (I usually take about 2 feet at a time). The strand is actually made up of 6 individual threads and for this we’re only going to need 2 (embroidery thread goes a LONG way!) so use your fingers to separate the strands and slowly peel 2 off, and then thread your needle with the 2 strands.
Makes some Xs
Now you can start to make some Xs. You pull your thread through the cloth starting from the back and leaving about 2 inches at the back. hold it with your finger as you make your first X. After that, the thread will hold itself (no need for knots.)
Look at the little holes in the aida cloth and make one diagnal stitch and then cross it from the other direction to make your X. Then start making a line of Xs. When I’m done with one colour I slip my thread through the back of one of the Xs to keep it tight and then just start with my next colour!
So what are you going to make and where are you going to find the patterns (and how do you read the patterns?)
There are definitely kits that you can find online and in craft stores with the pattern printed on the cloth, but counted cross stitch is really common and that just means that you have a pattern in a grid that you follow an you count along with how many stitches you need to make in each colour in each row. There are many of these to be found online and a quick google or pinterest search will find you MANY. My kids like to make video game characters and have easily found all kinds of patterns online. You can also design your own with a piece of graph paper, or start with rows of rainbow colours to get some practice!