My first Biscornu – in cross stitch!

Years ago, I was a cross stitcher. I have Christmas stockings that I made which are used yearly.  Then life got busier and I moved away from needlework. When I came back to it, I did surface embroidery, including goldwork and canvas work. I didn’t attempt any cross stitch and now I know why.

I can’t count. I spend more time counting than stitching on this project and I simply don’t have the patience for it any more. Nor do I have the eyes or the concentration! My admiration for those of you who can cross stitch is enormous. I love the pretty orderliness of a beautifully cross stitched piece. I love samplers – especially ones designed by Amy Mitten – that use different counted techniques. Sadly, I think they are not, nor will they ever be, something I can accomplish without a great deal of frustration.

For the past two weeks I’ve been working on my first Biscornu for an exchange my EGA chapter is having with a chapter in New Zealand. I signed up thinking “I can do this much cross stitch. It isn’t much. How difficult can it be?”

It was difficult, confusing and frustrating in turns. I got lost, counted wrong, pulled stitches out, put them back and pulled them out again.However, I persevered and finally finished the front and back today.


You cannot imagine how relieved and happy I feel. Firstly, it’s finished! Secondly, I did it! There are some mistakes where the threads aren’t perfectly taut but I can fix that with a few gentle tugs at the back.

The pattern is from Etsy. You can find it here.   The design is charming and I chose it because I knew I would keep stitching to see it finished. All of the designs from Rainburst Embroidery are pretty and I wish I could whip them all up in a few days. Not weeks.

Having received no “training” in cross stitch, I know there must be tips and tricks to learn to make a piece that’s perfect and cleanly stitched. Some of the members of my EGA chapter do amazing work and I admire them all the more now that I’ve cross stitched my own biscornu!

Next, I need to assemble it and find a darling button for the top. Then I’ll bring it along to my meeting where it will be boxed up with all the others and sent off to New Zealand. I hope the recipient is happy with it and I can’t wait to see the one that will be sent to me! I only hope whomever stitched it had a less frustrating time than I did!

15 thoughts on “My first Biscornu – in cross stitch!

  1. How I understand you! My feeling with cross stitch is just the same – No patient for so many wrong counting – that’s why I never tried blackwork though I like it so very much, but it looks like a lot of counting as cross stitch. But your cross stitch looks great!
    Hope you are feeling happy with your returning to U.S.

  2. Oh yes! I tell myself cross stitch is too boring for me but the truth is I can’t count either and I hate all the double checking the chart. Surface embroidery is much more intuitive and forgiving for me.

    I did enjoy working on a tiny little project when I was dealing with a nursing baby. Tons of counting errors but the stitches themselves kept me sane.

    Your project is lovely. I am sure the lucky recipient will enjoy it.

  3. I’m a person who has no issues with counting, but I found that after trying other techniques like goldwork and whitework I couldn’t go back. I especially couldn’t go back to using aida. It took me weeks to make a small name tag for my guild’s seminar.

    • I have done advanced gold work, needle painting and other techniques, but am very happy to do cross stitch. I use antique Aida from my primary school days. Soft and 18 count per inch. Beautiful to work with. No starch.

  4. I have “a lot” of cross stitch I did when in the “eyesight” of youth…even then I found it “tedious” . It is still a beautiful type of embroidery! Then I found the freedom of “thread painting” and never returned. I just am unable to deal with the confinement of cross stitch. I like looking at a project and knowing (even though someone elses design) that the stitching is mine and without a set parameter of bounderies for each stitch! I actually did “machine embroidered cross stitch” and that was so much easier because you could do it on just about any fabric. Even machine embroidery does not have the satisfactionfor me that “hand” embroidery does now!!

  5. I hated cross stitch for many years and had no intention of ever doing it….and then i fell in love with samplers…..and had to make a promise to be patient with the technique and myself. That patience was actually key for me all the way around…that and deciding that i would make my very best effort in whatever i was doing. I find it very helpful for big and small embroideries to run a tacking stitch both horizontally and vertically every ten stitches(or whatever count you like)….and i do not start in the center….i start in the top left corner and just work the section that is on the photocoppy of the chart….anytime i started in the center it was a total disaster! So there you have it…the sum total of any help i can offer….not much, but maybe it will help a little.

    • Thanks everyone for your comments! I did run tacking stitches every 10 holes in the Aida fabric and it did help (great advice) but certainly didn’t keep me from making mistakes! Now that the piece is finished (watch for photos soon) I must say I like the results. Perhaps I could learn the patience (and the skills) to eventually embroider one of Amy Mitten’s samplers…there’s always hope!

      Liebe Grüße,


  6. A nice looking project but more counted thread than cross stitch! I prefer other types of counted thread such as blackwork or pulled thread as once the base is established…no need to look at the chart…that is my problem…strong readers to stitch but they are too strong for the charts!

  7. I am glad you are pleased with the finished biscornu and I am sure that the recipient will be very happy with it.
    I have done a little cross stitch in the past and found it very frustrating. Not the stitching but the counting. I would count the chart, loose count, recount, start stitching, forget how many, count the chart again, forget many I had already done, count the stitches, stitch some more, forget how many …. I think you know what I mean
    I attended a class with Amy; it was amazing. Amy is such fun and an excellent tutor. Her workshops are really well designed, as are her kits. The class was a sampler, not really my thing, but it was a class with Amy so not to be missed. And a learnt a lot! I was sitting next to Nicola Parkman of Hands Across the Sea Samplers, who I did not know prior to the class. When we began stitching the first motif, I had gone through my count, recount, loose count routine and just about managed to stitch two short rows when we stopped for a break. I looked across at Nicola’s frame (her stitching is sublime) and she had nearly completed the motif. I asked how she managed to do so much in a short while and she gave me a very good tip; when doing a motif, stitch the outline of a coloured area first, then relax and just fill in the shape!
    I have been lurking on the HATS Facebook page since meeting Nicola and other Sampler enthusiasts, watching and admiring, and gradually being more and more drawn to them. I have just signed up to join in a stitch-a-long for a beautiful band sampler. Reading your post made me smile. You have reminded me that I have a real problem counting, so know I am wondering if I have made a terrible mistake 😮

    • Hi Carol,

      No, you haven’t made a mistake! There are so many people who do counted cross stitch that surely there are tips (like the one from Nicola Parkman about filling in the outline first) that will help it be easier. That what I kept thinking throughout my entire experience of stitching the biscornu…and I hope I’m right! It’s such a pretty technique that I don’t want to give up on it. That said, it wilL never be my favorite – I’m a surface embroidery stitcher all the way!

      Liebe Grüße,


  8. The ETSy link is bad.
    Love your work. I’m slowly moving away from cross stitch – finding the freedom to do small improvisations a lot of fun

  9. I’m primarily a counted thread gal. I signed up for the BB in order to expand my horizons into surface embroidery more. It rather terrifies me when I don’t have an exact ‘hole’ where I know my needle goes LOL.

    I must have a lighted magnifier lamp for counted thread work. There are some really decent LED lights on the market now. My best advice is to make a working copy of the chart and mark off (in pencil) when you finish an area or color (however you prefer to work) and do that marking frequently.

    Your work is lovely, and thank you for the link to the designer’s shop. I love the delicate floral motif on this piece.

    • Hi Karla,

      Thank you! I feel the exact opposite of how you do about having a hole to put the needle through – it just confuses me to find the RIGHT hole! Good thing we all like and excel at different things – makes needlework so interesting!

      Liebe Grüße,


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