Work in progress: my barn owl cross stitch

My new barn owl project

I have a new project. Again. That’s probably not a huge surprise to those of you who know me, or have been following this blog for a while. (See the mini pond, the hedgehog box, the mammal footprint tunnel, the British Animal Challenge, the Photography Challenge, the pallet planter…) But this one is a bit different. It’s a cross stitch.

I love new projects – I love researching them and planning them in great detail. I love setting myself a goal, and working to reach it. I love watching it progress, and, eventually, seeing the finished result (although I have to admit I don’t always get this far – some of my projects are rather ambitious, and it’s the planning stage I love most).

I am an occasional cross stitcher. I like having something to do with my hands when listening to the radio or watching TV. It’s satisfying to see the design gradually emerge out of seeming chaos, stitch by stitch. And it’s methodical work that doesn’t require too much of my brain.

A recent trip to Hobbycraft got my fingers itching for a new craft project. Making clothes is banned until I finally finish hemming the curtains (dull, time consuming, awkward work, since I will insist on doing them by hand). But none of the cross stitch kits there really took my fancy. So I decided to give designing my own a go.

First I sorted through my favourite wildlife photos for a fairly simple one that would work well as a cross stitch, without lots of distracting background details. And one that I would be happy to have up in my home, when (if) finished. I settled on this barn owl photo.

Barn owlNext I found a website that turns your image into a cross stitch pattern. You specify the size you want, and the number of colours to use, and it comes up with a chart you can download and print. It took a few attempts to fin the right balance between something that looks good, and uses a sensible number of colours. The more colours you use, the more it looks like the photo, but the more complex it is to stitch. In the end I settled for 35, but that may be rather ambitious.

barn owl cross stitch pattern
Barn owl cross stitch pattern (the black lines just indicate where the page breaks are on the chart)

Next I had to source the aida and embroidery thread. I was pleased when this worked out to be less expensive than I feared, meaning the project will be cheaper than a kit, plus I will get all the leftover thread for future projects.

Then I created a thread organiser, labelled with the chart symbols to make it easy for me to find what I was looking for. Having sewn grid lines onto my fabric as a guide, I was ready to go.

I have been working on it slowly but surely, doing a bit most evenings when I am in. So far I’m still on the black background, and only about 6% in, but it’s good to see my gradual progress. If I ever finish it I will post a picture on the blog (if not you can safely assume it’s been stuffed in the chest of unfinished projects).

Work in progress: my barn owl cross stitch
Can you tell what it is yet?

My previous cross stitch projects have either been small scale, or unfinished (I get distracted by newer projects). But this is the first time I’ve stitched something of my own design. Who knows how it will go…

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