Embroidery Kit Makeover: Allo-Aro Unicorn

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

For @aggressivelyarospec‘s Aggressively Arospectacular 2022 week-long event, I have again undertaken a quest of daily creative offerings.

Today’s piece awakens my slumbering make-over series with an allosexual aromantic version of a K-Mart unicorn embroidery kit:

A freehand embroidery piece on cream drill or canvas, set into a bamboo embroidery hoop. The piece consists of a unicorn outline stitched in white with strands of light and dark green hair and a yellow and gold horn. Beneath the unicorn sits a row of daisy-type flowers, leaves and coloured dots in the aforementioned colours. All stitching is done in backstitch; only the centres of the flowers and the unicorn's horn have been filled in with tight backstitched swirls. The hoop sits atop a blue microfibre blanket.

I bought this kit for $3 AUD from K-Mart’s toy (not craft) section. I stress that because this kit is of far better quality than K-Mart’s adult embroidery kits! If you want a design that celebrates sweetness or cuteness, or you just like unicorns, this kit is almost perfect for a pride makeover.

Like all previous kits, this provides a guide for the intended stitches: running, back and satin. Instead, I worked this design in backstitch so that even filled-in sections are comprised of tight backstitch spirals. Because I like the look of thinner stitches that can’t always hide the printed design’s lines, I used two strands of floss and stitched on the reverse side of the fabric. I also added extra lines to the mane so it would look properly full.

My only problem, design-wise, is my choice of flag and use of colours: white floss poorly contrasts with cream fabric, so the unicorn’s body is hard to parse from a distance. Filling in the body with satin stitch could help, but I think this kit is best for pride flags that don’t use white.

I framed the finished piece with a bamboo hoop, as shown above, but I worked it on the provided hoop. Unlike rubbery-and-hard-plastic flexi-hoops, the tension on this pink plastic hoop is adjustable via a metal screw. The outer ring contains a tab which slots into a hollow inner ring and holds the fabric in place. This means, unlike with many cheap plastic and bamboo hoops, I don’t have to constantly re-adjust shifting, slipping fabric. And I don’t get splinters!

The components of the unicorn embroidery kit, sitting atop a blue microfibre blanket. Components include: black drawing of the unicorn and flowers printed on cream fabric, a silver needle, a pink plastic screw-type hoop unfastened so that the outer ring sits atop the inner ring, and four skeins of embroidery floss in light pink, pink, mint green and lavender.

In contrast to K-Mart’s adult embroidery kits, this includes a sturdy drill-like fabric. The edges are also overlocked to prevent fraying! This fabric is wonderfully forgiving for beginners like me who struggle to keep even tension on stitches: it didn’t pucker or gather as I stitched. I did need a thimble to create the spiralling backstitch, as very-close-together stitches resulted in a thick block of floss on the reverse side, but you shouldn’t need one to work the kit as intended.

You should acquire a sharp embroidery needle, however, as my kit provided a blunt tapestry needle. (Ironically enough, K-Mart’s adult cross-stitch kits come with sharp embroidery needles!) I suspect this is because of the kit’s 8+ age rating–even though the leaflet warns for sharp points–but pushing the provided needle through thick fabric won’t make for an enjoyable stitching experience. Get another needle if you want to save your hands and control your stitch placement.

Despite the lack of contrast and my crooked stitches, I’m happy with the finished piece. Allo-aros are typically considered the inverse of qualities associated with/symbolised by unicorns in Western culture, so it felt empowering–despite my preference for traditionally gender-neutral designs–to craft one in our colours. We too can take joy in being soft, sweet, cute, innocent or childlike; our allosexual aromanticism doesn’t limit us to adult-themed narratives, symbols and spaces. Not to mention that our beautiful pride colours of green and gold make a pretty unicorn!

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