I had been crocheting for years before I realised that I could potentially use cross stitch patterns for crochet projects. It was only when I was having a huge spring clean and I was amassing some books to take down the charity shop that I happened to flick through an old Country Living collection of cross stitch patterns that the idea dawned on me. Once it had, I felt a little silly, why had this not been obvious to me before? A whole new world of potential designs was unlocked and before long I was imagining all the beautiful blankets I could create for the house.
It turns out that things are not as easy as they may first appear. Having tried out a few different patterns, and using a fair bit of trail and error, I have come up with some pros and cons which I though I would share with you…
The most simple designs often work the best – There are various reasons for this, mostly revolving around why very inherent properties of cross stitch and crochet. With cross stitch you are working on aida or fabric which have even thread. You are effectively working on a grid where all the rows and columns line up perfectly. With crochet you are (generally) working lines back and forth. The stitches don’t line up perfectly over the one below, they stagger slightly. Therefore, if you are using a pattern which requires perfectly straight lines, you are going to come unstuck fairly quickly. This may not bother you, if so go for it, but it is best to be aware that the pattern is going to look a little different from what you see on the page. For this reason if you are planning on cross stitching letters, you might want to try out a test swatch first to make sure it is still legible afterwards.
Lots of colours = lots of tangles – Unless you are someone who loves weaving in lots of ends (and let’s face it, who does?) you are going to want to find a way to carry your yarn with you when you change colours in your pattern. You have two options on this, you can either crochet over the colour you aren’t currently using and pick it up again after the design or, if you are making a cushion or jumper or something where the back side doesn’t show, you can drop the colour and pick it up later. The first method is fine if you are only changing one colour (and you can live with the yarn showing through slightly) but it is not going to work if you have too many colours otherwise the crocheted over yarn is going to start bulking out your stitches, making them a different height to the rest of your row. The second option, where you drop the yarn, is the better option for several colours but can quickly lead to lots of tangles if you are not VERY disciplined at controlling your yarn. To prevent this you can make sure you line up your balls in the correct order for each row, reversing them as you work the next row up and so on. Or you can consider putting smaller amounts of yarn on bobbins and unwinding as you need to. Either way you are going to keep yourself to a fairly limited palette of colours or you will cause yourself no end of grief. My white cushion only had five colours total and I almost cried with the amount of tangles I got into.
Cross stitch patterns can definitely be a boon for crocheters but it does take a bit of time and patience to find out what works best. If you don’t crochet, then you could also use the patterns for Hama Beads, latch hooking, knitting, mosaic or lots more. I’d love to hear your experiences using cross stitch patterns for other craft projects and feel free to share any pics with me via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram