Earlier in the year, I finished a flamingo cross stitch hoop sampler I've began working on in January, and I'm really pleased with the end result, so I thought I'd give you guys a peek at it.
I bought the kit in Hobbycraft in January as I loved the flamingo design, and it looked like it would be a fun, quick project I could stitch together in a week or so before moving on to something else. It was only a fiver (full price, although it's since increased to £6) so I wasn't expecting a high level of quality from it, but I wasn't really expecting any problems, either.
It turns out, there were many.
Firstly, the aida (fabric) was warped, with diagonal lines, so it was totally unusable. I had to use a spare piece I had lying around in my stash.
The embroidery hoop that was included in the kit, gave me several painful splinters when I first began using it. Although, I have to say, as embroidery hoops go,it's not bad- it's sturdy, and holds tension really well. It just needs sanding down a little.
The front of the packet claimed to have easy instructions suitable for beginners, but they definitely weren't the easiest to decipher at first, and a beginner would have difficulty with them.
My main problem with the instructions was that the pattern included quarter stitches as well as cross stitches, and in the key, they were shown in the same colours and symbols as each other because the same colour threads were needed. The lines on the chart were all different widths and heights, with no rhyme or reason, so I couldn't make sense of which were which, even after photocopying and enlarging the instruction chart to A2. (The chart included is quite small). It took me days to finally spot the tiny quarter stitches- they were all hiding on the face of the flamingo. After that, the pattern made complete sense and I was able to start sewing... but I still had the difficult task of identifying the threads.
And that was a nightmare.
The threads weren't pre-sorted and with five similar shades of pink and four orange, I had real difficulty trying to match most of them to the correct symbols. I had to just guess and hope for the best. When I first began stitching the flamingo, the main colour of the body I'd confidently matched up was this horrible dark terracotta colour, and it looked awful, and unlike any flamingo I've ever seen, so I ended up unpicking it, and from there I decided to wing it and give it my own spin. I chose most of the colours as I went along, using some from the kit, and many from my own stash, unpicking and restitching with different colours multiple times until I was satisfied with how it looked. I also did this with the back-stitching; the entire design was supposed to be out-lined in black, but I didn't like how that looked, and chose to use a darker shade of colour to compliment each area instead. I personally think it looks so much better without the harshness of the black,
While I was going rogue, I also changed the colours of the French knots on the flowers, opting for yellow and dark pink instead of black. I'd never attempted a French knot stitch before, and the instructions included weren't helpful, so I had to Google for a tutorial to make sense of it. While the stitch is pretty straight-forward, I found it tricky to get right at first, and it took a bit of practise, but after multiple failed attempts and realising keeping the thread tight is the trick, I got there in the end. They're not perfect, but they're the best I could do, and I'm satisfied with the end result. To be honest, I had to stop there before I pulled all my hair out.
Hobbycraft advertises this kit as being suitable for beginners, but I personally don't agree. I've been stitching for years and I was pulling my hair out from start to finish. The majority of beginners will have trouble understanding the instructions, and difficulty learning the different stitches from them unless they think to Google a tutorial or ask a more experienced cross-stitcher for help. I also think any beginner who starts cross stitching with this kit is going to be put off from the craft for life. Don't begin with this kit if you're new to cross stitching. I don't recommend it.
The pattern is straight forward and would have been quick and easy if the chart was clear from the start, the threads were recognisable, and the supplies were adequate, but it just ended up being one massive headache. It was far from the quick, easy project I'd expected it to be, and it just stressed me out on a daily basis.
If you've got the knowledge, skill, and supplies to give it your own spin, you can get great results from the pattern. It's a lovely design over all, and I love how mine turned out in the end, but I won't lie- it was one of the most stressful cross stitch projects I've ever worked on. It was worth all the hassle, and I'm glad I persevered, but I'm not in a hurry to pick up another design from the range any time soon. I don't have the strength.
If my review hasn't put you off and you still want to give this kit a go, you can find it on the Hobbycraft website here.
Have you made anything lately? Do you cross stitch?
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