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Awaiting Spring!

Hello spring ... almost! There's just something about seeing March on the calendar that makes me smile. Easter is coming; plus, I've been itching to plant for months, and I start sketching out my yard March 1. Growing up in southern Alabama, my great-grandfather's rule was planting only after Good Friday, and I still hold to that. Easter has to be my second favorite holiday, trailing not far behind Christmas. We'll talk more about Easter, friends, when it gets closer. This year, Easter comes early, so my planting might have to wait a little longer since we can't seem to shake this crazy winter weather. We've had snow/ice events three times already this winter. I know that's not a lot in most places, but it's insane here in Alabama. Our claim to fame is college football championships and hot summers, not snowy days. Everyone is ready for bright colors, warmer temps, and budding plants. Previously brown and "dead" plants and grass begin to tentatively show signs of renewal. Then, as if overnight, buds and blooms mingle with bright green lawns and leaves, and it's as if winter never happened. I mean, seriously, how amazing is that?

Until then, I'll get my spring fix through stitching. One of my favorite ways to work flowers is using specialty stitches. Specialty stitches have shown up on cross-stitch pieces for hundreds of years, and they add such beautiful interest and texture. Let's take a look at another classic stitch -- the Algerian eye stitch.

"Wholey" Algerian Eye Stitch, Batman
We created dimension with the Rhodes stitch in the last update. This time we're going to add texture with the Algerian eye stitch. Similar to the eyelet stitch, the Algerian is worked in circular motion and skips threads between every "leg" of the stitch. The Algerian can be worked in a traditional square or other shapes. It can also be made more or less full, depending on how many threads are left between the legs. Each leg is pulled gently to create an opening in the center of the stitch. Pull the legs a bit more firmly to open the center even more. It's delicate and dainty, but it makes a huge statement in a project.

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Algerian eye stitches worked over eight threads. The stitch on the left is worked by skipping two threads between each leg, while the stitch on the right is worked by skipping four threads between each leg. Note the difference in dimension, fill and texture.

Now, let's take a look at how to work the Algerian eye stitch. You'll also find this stitch worked on this update's Featured Pattern. Grab some fabric and thread that needle. Let's do this!

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1. After securing your thread on the back of the fabric, bring the needle up as indicated by 1 on the stitch illustration. I prefer to start mine at the top center, but you could also start at any corner or on a side -- totally whatever makes you happy! Next, sink the needle where indicated by 2 on the stitch illustration below. Do not pull the stitch yet.

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2. Bring the needle up where indicated by 3 on the stitch illustration. Gently pull this leg of the stitch to start opening the center of the stitch. Then sink the needle at the center of stitch.

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3. Continue working the stitch, gently pulling each leg as you work around the stitch. Take care to only pull the stitch when you are bringing the needle up at odd numbers. Watch your tension and thread placement as you work. Don't pull too tightly or you'll distort your fabric and the stitch.

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4. When the last leg of the stitch is reached, pull the last leg a little more firmly to finish shaping the stitch if necessary. Secure the thread on back of work. Voila! You've worked a beautiful, textured Algerian eye stitch.

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Remember: Don't be discouraged if your first Algerian eye stitch looks off-kilter or catawampus. Most of the time, these can be adjusted, using the tip of your needle to carefully separate strands or adjust the tension. But also remember that practice will make perfect. These little beauties take no time, so work as many as you can until you find your groove. I find them very therapeutic and calming. Yes, I know that sounds a little strange, but again, we're all friends, right? Once you're pleased with your stitches, you can try other shapes. Go crazy, my friends!

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Rounded Algerian eye stitch and Diamond Algerian eye stitch worked over 12 threads.

For other stitch illustrations, check out Annie's Stitch Guide here.

Annie's Creative Studio Content & Giveaways
Have you taken time to check out the new Annie's Creative Studio? New content is uploaded almost every day, and these tutorials and product reviews will amaze you.

One of the videos focuses on covered buttons. This makes my heart so happy because I love having the option of making a delicately stitched project into a button, and this video removes the intimidation from the process.

There is also a video focusing on needle threaders. I use threaders when working with pearl cotton or metallics because they make things easier and make me a little less cranky. And we all need that, am I right?

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Annie's Creative Studio is a service that debuted just this year. It contains more than 450 videos and patterns. It's a membership-based service, offering a free 30-day trial for new members, which is even more exciting! Another exciting aspect of Annie's Creative Studio is their monthly giveaways, which are open to subscribers and nonsubscribers! What? Who are you kidding -- sign up!

For more information, to sign up for your free trial or to enter giveaways, click here.

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