Saturday, June 20, 2015

Completed Cross Stitch – “Wicked Night” by Isabella Abbiati for The Primitive Hare

This piece is stitched on a 28-count Ivory-coloured Lugana cloth, dyed with Dylon’s Velvet Black and stitched with one thread over one.  The dyed piece's dappled effect reminded me of the moon’s surface at a magnified level and I found the pattern to match after the dye experiment. 
If you are not entirely familiar with your different cloth types for stitching just yet, Lugana cloth is an evenweave fabric.  Evenweave looks like a piece of graph paper and Lugana is a smaller version of Aida cloth, which is a larger evenweave.  The nice thing about working with an evenweave fabric is that it provides an easier way to count your stitching against the pattern, allow for overall stress-free stitch placement, and nice uniformity.

What makes Lugana different than Aida is not only the size difference (Aida is typically 14, 16, 18, or 22) and Lugana has a higher count such as 25 or 28 but there is also a texture and dye-ability difference which I will get into in a bit. 
But what do all these numbers mean?  Well, just like your computer monitor or TV, the more squares or dots per inch means a higher or stronger resolution and the less squares per inch means, well, it looks more blocky the bigger it gets (Minecraft is a good model).  Think of micro (small) vs. macro (big).  So, for example, in this piece there are 28 stitches per one inch.  The pattern size is 77H x 163W.  H = height and W = width.

By doing a little math, you can figure out how big or small your work will be.  For example, let’s divide 77 into 28 and 163 into 28.  Remember we are still working in inches, so the design will be 2.75”H and 5.82”W on a piece of 28-count Lugana cloth.  The size of the cloth I am using is 5” x 14” which is important to know as you need to have an extra few inches around your design.  If you don’t have a few extra inches of fabric around your design, you run the risk of it unravelling or making it hard to stitch and/or frame.  See how it works?  It’s called scalability.
Getting back to the graph paper example, it would translate to 28 squares per inch and in the case of a TV or computer monitor 28 dots or pixels per inch (dpi or ppi).

So, why isn’t there an Aida cloth that has a 25 or 28 count then?  It’s the ingredients used to make the cloth.  Aida is made out of 100% cotton which is of course good right?  It is but only to a degree.  The cotton fibers are too large to work with after a 22-count and the evenweave openings look more like pinholes instead of uniform squares making it very difficult to work with as far as stitching may go.

In order to get around this problem, Lugana cloth reduces the amount of the cotton blend and increases an intermingling of part viscose rayon.  The combination is roughly a 50/50 split give or take a 1%-2% difference between the blends.  Viscose is plant fiber and viscous rayon is plant fiber that goes through an additional chemical process to smooth out the fibers a bit more.  With smoother and more refined fiber, smaller weaves can be achieved.  The overall texture between Lugana and Aida is smoother/flatter versus slightly coarser and raised fibers respectively.
As you may have already guessed, plant fiber and cotton fiber absorb water and/or dye differently which definitely has an impact on your specific or experimental dye job of creating artistic-looking cloth for the background of your work.  Cotton will absorb liquid more quickly and rayon will slightly repel liquid before absorption.  Picking out the right cloth is a combination of personal preference and technical requirement for the piece you wish to wonderfully create and both fabrics are lovely to work with in their own special way.