Of course, everyone has their personal favorites. When one goes missing or is on the fritz, that day's stitching can be hellish. But these are the five -- and the specific brands -- that I consider must-haves:
- K's Creations LaPetite Lap Frame -- This balanced, light-weight frame rests comfortably and securely on your lap and is ideal for stitchers who use Q-snaps or scroll frames. Since I prefer using the stabbing method rather than sewing in hand, There's no need to hold the frame, which leaves both hands free for stitching. I'm right-handed, so I pass the needle up through the fabric with my right-hand positioned below the project, then down through the fabric with my left-hand above. This allows me to stitch more quickly since I use the stabbing method rather than sewing in-hand. I have the clamp attachment for Q-snaps, but you can choose an attachment for scroll frames, if you prefer. The knobs securing both the clamp and frame arm are easily adjusted so you can position your work properly. The frame easily holds 8x8 or 8x11 Q-snaps. Other models are available for larger frames and projects.
- Q-Snaps -- Lightweight, easy to assemble and less expensive than scroll frames, Q-snaps are a popular choice among cross-stitchers. I find they kept the fabric much tauter than scroll frames. And because the pipes are interchangeable, a set of 8x8s and 11x11s accommodate practically any size project. I prefer to use combinations of these sizes even for larger projects. I just place the Q-Snaps in the area I'm working on and fold the excess under the clamps or roll it up secured with binder clips. For smaller projects, I use 6x6s.
- Help-n-Hand Chart Holder -- Keeps charts upright and at hand. It works best with Q-Snaps, and can be positioned either on the top or sides of the frame.
- Fingertip Trolley Needle (or laying tool) -- I use this to smooth threads so that each strand lays side-by-side. Some wear it on their thumbs, but I prefer it on my left-hand middle finger. I've heard stitchers express concern that they may accidentally poke themselves in the eye. I've never had that problem. It just takes a little practice to get accustomed to having it on your finger.
- Ott-Light -- Proper lighting has become more essential with age. Especially when working on smaller count fabric. A good light and a pair of magnifiers, and I'm good to go.