Getting Cross With Cross Stitch

My ‘real life’ sewing friend and I are always searching for new projects to do on our (pre-lockdown) regular Wednesday afternoon three hour sessions which are interrupted only by two tea breaks and a cake.

Anyway, undeterred by previous rubbish patterns in magazines, we were seduced by this little cartonnage house made with card and fabric and – shock, horror – cross stitch.

If you read my blog regularly you will know that cross stitch is one of my ‘never say never and I mean it’ things, like sea cruises and anchovies, but I thought, nothing ventured nothing gained and she can teach me.  Plus, how cute is that little house with roses round the door and windows.

I should have known better.

For starters, not only was it a French magazine but it was a French magazine translated from the Italian.

For followers, (is that even a phrase?) the pattern was absolutely terrible and the only way we managed to work it out was because we had both previously done quite a bit of cartonnage work.

There were no helpful pictures of the actual construction or the inside to help – only diagrams which didn’t make any sense and photographs of the finished piece.

To top it all, they had you glue each end of the apex of the roof onto the slender tops of the front and rear facade which we decided was ridiculous because if you had anything of any weight inside it would make carrying it around a bit risky in case of droppage followed by spillage and also, it’s quite deep so would be fiddly to reach for things at the bottom.

So, we decided to leave the roof unstuck and, if we’d made that decision earlier, might not have bothered with the handle.

All this faffing around took us several weekly sessions and many cups of tea and pieces of cake to come up with the house shaped box.

And then…….

Came the cross stitch.

I cannot lie.  I very rarely give up on something but, after two sessions of managing a couple of crosses – and even they were wrong – I threw my toys out of the pram, swore fluently in both French and English and refused to continue.  I said I would figure out a way of making those windows and that door out of something other than fiddly strands of thread that you have to separate into thinner fiddly strands and then watch it run out just as you are mid-way through a stitch.  A way where I wouldn’t have to use a magnifying glass to see where to place the stitch and then, when I actually managed to do one didn’t look like a cross anyway because it was so tiny or, more likely, because I’d done it wrong.  Something that wouldn’t send me home feeling I’d wasted a couple of hours and needing to take a painkiller for a headache.

I thought about little felt windows and doors.

Even though I had subjected her to a mini tantrum and ranted about how awful counted cross stitch is and why does anybody ever do it, my friend forgave me and, better still, when I went back the next week, she’d done it for me.

I’m a bit ashamed of myself but I think I did a good job on the yoyos.

At least I now know that counted cross stitch will stay on my ‘never say never and I mean it’ list for ever and ever.

Do you have a ‘never say never and I mean it’ list?

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  1. #1 by Kim on April 25, 2020 - 12:53

    Pretty much any sort of embroidery does me in. I can sew garments but any embroidery I do looks like it’s been done by an air with two left hands. Dismal.
    I love your little house, and how good is that friend!

    • #2 by tialys on April 25, 2020 - 15:03

      She is very good, bless her. She actually did the door for me first and left me to do the windows but, when I returned the following week with two little scrappy felt things I’d made, she’d already added the windows for me. I felt like a petualant child but was very pleased she had 😉

  2. #3 by Kim on April 25, 2020 - 12:54

    Air? I typed ape. 😠

    • #4 by tialys on April 25, 2020 - 15:04

      Blooming auto correct.

  3. #5 by anne54 on April 25, 2020 - 12:55

    It is a very cute little house, and now you have a lovely reminder of what a good friend your friend is…..seeing you can’t meet up with her for a little while. (And a reminder NEVER to attempt cross-stitch again!)

    • #6 by tialys on April 25, 2020 - 15:01

      Some things are just not meant to be. We can’t be good at everything can we?

  4. #7 by katechiconi on April 25, 2020 - 13:00

    It’s a very adorable little house, and I’m glad you had a kind friend to do the loathed cross stitch! My never ever and I mean it is scrapbooking. There are things I can’t do and wish I can. Scrapbooking I’ve never seen the point of. Just my opinion…

    • #8 by tialys on April 25, 2020 - 15:00

      It’s not quite a never ever but I know just what you mean about scrapbooking.

  5. #9 by nanacathy2 on April 25, 2020 - 15:10

    I love your little house, and I for one am delighted to find there is something you can’t do, and even better that I can do. I do need a bigger count fabric than the one you were using so I can see the holes. I can’t do hardanger and drawn thread work, it ends up looking like a dishcloth and I wouldn’t ever try lace making, mostly because I can’t see the point of the end product.

    • #10 by tialys on April 25, 2020 - 19:14

      There are plenty of things I can’t do and some things I just don’t want to do.
      Hardanger! The horror!
      Lace making! The faff!

  6. #11 by Wild Daffodil on April 25, 2020 - 15:27

    Ah – yes, I’m with Cathy – lace making – never! and also spinning wool.
    That little house is cute – maybe needlefelted features would be more up your street. 😉

    • #12 by tialys on April 25, 2020 - 19:15

      Spinning wool scares me mostly because of that big wheel thingy. Maybe it’s a Sleeping Beauty or Rapunzel thing but it’s definitely something I’m happy to leave to the experts.

  7. #13 by Laurie Graves on April 25, 2020 - 15:37

    Well, you have a very good friend indeed. What an utterly adorable house! I have lots of things on my never list, including flying, cruises, mountain climbing… You can see by this list I am not very adventurous. 😉 Also, your piece got me thinking about what the American equivalent to tea and cake would be. I think it’s coffee and muffins. However, I am not a coffee a drinker, so for me it would be tea and muffins.

    • #14 by tialys on April 25, 2020 - 19:18

      In the normal, everyday course of events it would be tea and biscuits but Sandra uses my visits as an excuse to bake so it’s usually cake. I wouldn’t complain either way and coffee and muffins would do me very well too.

  8. #15 by claire93 on April 25, 2020 - 15:39

    what a good friend and lovely 3D house.
    What I can’t understand . . . you can knit, crochet, sew, needle felt, and no doubt do many other artsy fartsy needle crafts . . . why do you not get along with cross stitch? It’s one of the easiest needlecrafts lol.

    • #16 by tialys on April 25, 2020 - 19:23

      I just can’t cope with those teensy, tiny holes and that fussy thread and the endless counting and the fact that you have to go one way and then back the other way to make something so small you can barely make out it’s a cross at all. It would institutionalise me eventually I’m sure.
      I feel myself going into a tantrum again.
      *breathe*

  9. #17 by magpiesue on April 25, 2020 - 19:15

    Well it’s a darling little house, and what a good friend you have! But she probably enjoyed doing the cross stitch and was glad of the opportunity to help you out. 🙂 My never ever and I mean it would be mountain climbing. My husband would love to do that again like he did in his youth. I don’t see the point and have absolutely no desire to put myself to that exertion. I’ll take a horse up as far as it can carry me and be content. Not keen on big cruise ships either, even before the pandemic. I do love to be on the water though. A small, private cruise would be delightful. That isn’t going to happen anytime soon though!

    • #18 by tialys on April 25, 2020 - 19:31

      I think I could just about manage a canal boat or possibly a river cruise. I do get seasick but it’s the whole being stuck on a boat with people I might not like and entertainment I might not (probably wouldn’t) enjoy and whistle stop tours of cities where the residents hate the sight of you but want/need your money that puts me off. Can you tell it really is a ‘never say never and mean it’ thing for me? Even more than anchovies.
      Your husband would like it here in the Pyrénees. I have done a few of the big hills but I’ll leave the snowy peaks to those who enjoy such things. Have you seen the queue at Mt. Everest? What’s that all about?

  10. #19 by thecontentedcrafter on April 25, 2020 - 20:55

    Well the two of you have more gumption than I – I would have quietly thrown the whole caboodle in the bin in the first moment I realised the instructions where naff! The only ‘never ever’ I allow in my vocabulary (due solely to the many lessons life has insisted on teaching me) is that I will never ever say ‘never ever’ because it’s pretty darn sure the very thing just pronounced ‘never’ will show up the next week with a large sign round its neck proclaiming ‘ Make me, do me, be me’…….. However I can concur that it is highly unlikely that I will ever climb another mountain, attempt to make lace, undertake to finish the piece of counted embroidery that still languishes in the bottom of the discarded hobbies box, take up spinning again or weaving for that matter. Pottery had its try and was a disaster and is now sufficiently out of fashion for me not to be tempted to have another go. Cruising was never on the list of things to be done if possible, international travel had become highly unlikely before the pandemic and now is just plain unlikely.

    I should love to hear you swear fluently in both English and French – I would try to imitate you next time I feel like having a tanty about some fleeting annoyance…. wouldn’t that be hilarious!!

    • #20 by tialys on April 26, 2020 - 08:56

      Well, that is why my ‘never, ever’ list is so short Pauline. Like you, I try not to take such a definite negative stance and usually don’t until I’ve tried something but there are some things I just know without trying and a sea cruise is one.
      Is pottery out of fashion? There’s a great show on U.K. T.V. called The Great British Pottery Throwdown which I watch because, although I’ve no desire to do it myself, I find the process fascinating.

      • #21 by thecontentedcrafter on April 26, 2020 - 09:07

        Well I thought it was. It’s possible it’s just me who is out of fashion.

      • #22 by tialys on April 26, 2020 - 09:10

        🤣

  11. #23 by Born To Organize on April 26, 2020 - 04:26

    I haven’t done counted cross stitching in years. I feel your angst. What a dear friend you have! The cartonage is lovely, but what a lot of work it took getting there. Will you do a project like this again? Thanks for always making me smile.

    • #24 by tialys on April 26, 2020 - 08:46

      Well, as you probably know, I used to make cartonnage hexagonal sewing boxes for gifts and to sell in my Etsy shop but they are a lot of work. I’m sort of over making them now and prefer to sell the PDF tutorial so others can make their own.
      I don’t mind a challenging project but this was just a plain bad combination of pattern and instructions (unlike mine 😉) so the process wasn’t really enjoyable at any stage of the proceedings. So, no, this whole project can go on my never ever list and, possibly, most knitting/crochet and general craft patterns taken from magazines which I don’t believe are tested rigorously enough in many cases judging by the problems people often have with them.
      Still, I’m glad it made you smile xx

      • #25 by Born To Organize on April 27, 2020 - 23:59

        I do remember hose charming hexagonal boxes, and in fact bought one for my fried, Marcia. I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection that they were one and the same.

        You are good at a remarkable number of thigns. Why waste your creative energy on something you don’t enjoy?

      • #26 by tialys on April 30, 2020 - 20:13

        Well, the problem is that I didn’t know I wasn’t going to enjoy it until I’d invested too much nice fabric in it to back out. Still, it will be a unique item – in the truest sense – that’s for sure.

      • #27 by Born To Organize on May 4, 2020 - 19:52

        Well then, their is your win! Done and done and in the past. xo

  12. #28 by kathyreeves on April 26, 2020 - 05:01

    A great friend indeed! I know you were glad to have each other as you developed your own directions for building that little house. It really did turn out so cute. My never ever list…spinning, painting, butchering, mountain climbing!

    • #29 by tialys on April 26, 2020 - 08:37

      Were were glad of each other – I think real houses have been built in less time.
      Surprising how many people have mentioned spinning and mountain climbing.
      Nobody else has said butchering but I’m guessing that would probably be on most of our never ever lists if we’d given it any thought 😉

  13. #30 by craftycreeky on April 26, 2020 - 10:21

    I love cross-stitch as you know, I think after this week my anathema has got to be hexagons, especially mini ones, I’ve pretty much given up with knitting or crochet too, love the little house though, very pretty 🙂

    • #31 by tialys on April 30, 2020 - 20:03

      I know you love cross stitch and I always admire it – I just don’t want to do it!

  14. #32 by DawnGillDesigns on April 26, 2020 - 10:59

    That’s the sort of chum to have !

  15. #34 by Emmely on April 26, 2020 - 11:08

    Your friend must really love you to have done the cross stitch for you (or she really wanted to move on to a new project….).
    I suppose knitting is something I am no longer interested in learning. I tried it a couple of times and each time I was baffled with how I ended up with unintentional holes and a miraculously growing number of stitches and several more things like that.

    • #35 by tialys on April 30, 2020 - 20:05

      Yes, I suspect she wanted to move on. Unfortunately, we’ve been locked down ever since.
      Have you tried crochet instead of knitting? It’s faster. I prefer it now except for the fact that I rarely like any crocheted clothing. It’s good for toys/blankets/home furnishings etc.though.

      • #36 by Emmely on May 1, 2020 - 20:48

        Yes, I like crochet much better! I don’t do it often though, I really prefer sewing.

  16. #37 by Dartmoor Yarns on April 27, 2020 - 20:48

    So this is the house. Very cute. Anchovies and cruises are on my never event list too. I also hate with a passion colouring in books or dancing. As for crafts I wouldn’t touch even if I lost my mind there’s paper cutting and learning to cook properly. Unfortunately I have to cook stuff badly or I’ll starve. Now I feel better getting those off my chest.

    • #38 by tialys on April 30, 2020 - 20:11

      Oh, do you mean that paper cutting where whole scenes appear out of a piece of paper and get made into cards or get framed? That would put me into an institution too – if I hadn’t already been checked in to one due to cross stitch. As for cooking, I don’t mind it if it’s something ‘special’. Everyday, cooking you need to actually survive is boring and I leave that to the husband when he’s here – otherwise I’m happy with a bowl of porridge with some lemon curd and blueberries stirred in.

      • #39 by Dartmoor Yarns on May 1, 2020 - 14:29

        Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.
        I could live on porridge with lemon curd and blueberries stirred in – provided there was wine and chocolate too.

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