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The Influence of Cross Stitch on Bookmark Designs

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In the early days of the fifteenth century, respect for all books was second only to respect for the Bible alone. Books were few in number and considered valuable due to the fact not many were printed at any one time.

Queen Elizabeth I was the first to receive a book marker as a gift at the end of the 16th century, during a time when books were so valuable that harming the pages of a book, was considered a very bad thing to do. It was during the 1850s that detachable book markers began to appear, eventually being called the bookmarker (or bookmark) in modern times.

These first bookmakers were made from silk, cross stitch, or made with embroidered fabrics, while eventually other materials, such as paper, were used after the 1880s. Today, bookmarkers can be found anywhere in the thousands, and patterns for their design fill the Internet to the brim.

Behavior that we take for granted, such as lying books face down on a table or turning down page ears to mark selected sections, were not acceptable in these days. Writing in books was not accepted either, so the bookmarker was eventually developed to protect these valuable assets.

To this day, my mother will not write in any of her books or magazines, frowning at me and almost shuddering when she sees me do so. When I purchase a book, I “work” the book – not just read it. I tell her, Ahem… it makes no difference at all.

Some of my favorite gifts are bookmarkers that have been cross-stitch designed from my grandchildren or nieces and nephews. They are simple, small, and are tremendous in quality and value.

They are excellent projects for children to start with, as they are small in size, and their attention doesn’t wander while doing them. And they make excellent small gifts for the person who has everything and you don’t know what to get them. Small gifts are not necessarily insignificant, only small in size. The work that goes into them adds meaning and quality.

Some simple instructions in for bookmark preparation can be changed into any design along with any color or type of thread:

When making the bookmark, make sure the bookmark material is either a blank Aida fabric or one with a pattern on it, such as one in a kit. Be aware these come in plain or lacy borders, since they are for cross-stitch or embroidery.

If you did not buy the bookmark fabric in a kit, make sure you have a design in mind that fits the occasion. You can get many ideas online, which can be transferred onto your fabric after being downloaded.

Always keep your bookmark designs simple and use every bit of space accurately, even if you have to reduce the size to fit. Keep an eye on the border, unless you want your design to float off the edge.

When choosing project thread, use embroidery floss and an embroidery needle.

If you have a kit, and don’t like the colors in it, you can change them by purchasing colors of your own. Use the kit’s original colors for something else.

Check online how to reduce or enlarge your design, if not using a kit. The actual design area should be from the center of the design and going outward.

Be neat at all times, trimming any excess threads that are hanging around.

A growing number of websites offer a service that transfers photographs onto patterns for items such as pets or children, or pretty well any subject you choose.

Ask if they will reduce a small photograph of your own to fit onto the marker, perhaps combined with one of your favorite sayings. Of course you may choose to use one of your favorite sayings on its own – it’s your design and your choice.

John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of Patterns Patch an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website has a small team of writers who are devoted to our cross stitch club and enjoy writing about their hobby.

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