I waffled on giving this project an “achievement unlocked” headline because I don’t know if it qualifies as a “sewing project” per se…So, as a quick browse through the archives will make clear, I haven’t been sewing a lot in the last few months. Especially since the whole cancer diagnosis, I’ve been pretty tired & having a fair amount of pain. Whether it’s actually related to the cancer, or the anxiety around the cancer, or the blood infection situation that I am still fighting off, or some combination of all three, I have been spending a lot more time in bed & lot less time with my sewing machine.
I’m in this Facebook group for crafty moms, & one of the women started a stitch-along for a cross stitch pattern. My mom did some cross stitch when I was a kid, & I have foggy memories of trying it myself when I was in elementary school. I can’t remember if I ever actually completed a project back then. Maybe a little bookmark or something, to earn a Girl Scout badge. (I would have thrown my own grandmother in front of a train for a Girl Scout badge. I am counting down the moments until Ramona is old enough to join up.) I didn’t really think about it again for thirty years, because most cross stitch you see is just really not my jam. Like wall hangings of Precious Moments characters with Bible verses. Um, no. I tried to get into embroidery a couple of years ago, because that seemed more “modern” & elegant. But it just didn’t work for me. It seems to require a level of visual creativity that is beyond my ken, & the “hip” ready-made patterns tend toward a rockabilly aesthetic that just doesn’t appeal to me.
This is the pattern that was chosen for the stitch-along:
& here is what I produced:
& now I am obsessed with cross stitch! It’s something I can do literally while I am laying in bed. It’s fairly easy to pick up & put down if a child suddenly summons you. The required supplies are very affordable–I bought everything I needed for this project for less than I’d pay for a single yard of fabric. & it sends me into that same flow state I get from sewing. I would sit there & stitch for an hour & suddenly come out of my happy stitching head space & remember: Jared doesn’t have a job. I have cancer. Trump is president-elect. Everything is fucking terrible but I just forgot about all of it for an hour.
Another thing I like about it is that it takes for-fucking-ever. Maybe I’m just really slow at cross stitching & I will get faster if I stick with it, but this sampler took me about forty hours. Maybe you are wondering how this could possibly be considered a good thing, when that is longer than it takes to make a pair of jeans from scratch. It’s good because lately I have kind of been wondering how many clothes I really need. I love to sew, & I love to sew clothes, but my handmade wardrobe is pretty full. I don’t really have any holes right now. I am able to dress head-to-toe handmade without even trying. Anything else I make right now would just be for the love of sewing…which is a GREAT reason to sew, don’t get me wrong. But I do stress sometimes about the expense involved. & the potential gluttony of having more handmade clothes than I could really wear in a month.
It turns out that cross stitch is a great way for me to express my stitch-y creative energy, at low cost, while I’m laying around in bed. Even complicated patterns are just a matter of putting the right X of colored thread in the right spot & building from there, which means it engages my attention just enough to be challenging & fun, without asking me to use visual skills I don’t really have. I can have hours of stitching fun without feeling like I am adding a mountain of material goods to my space.
I took some progress photos as I made this sampler, to share with the other ladies in the craft-along:
The finished sampler is now hanging on my bedroom wall (even though Ramona asked me to put it in her room: “Mama, will you hang that in my room so it can be my most favorite decoration ever that I love so much?”–I declined only because she is in a big “all surfaces are canvases for my marker art” phase & I don’t want her scribbling on it during her quiet time) & I’m plugging away on a second sampler. I designed the new project by borrowing a pretty flower motif with a saying I didn’t love from another cross stitch pattern. I loaded it into Flickr & erased the text, & then added my own text & adjusted the colors a bit. I sent the updated image through an online cross stitch pattern generator. It’s pretty cool. It lets you choose the size of your finished project & it gives you lots of different options for how detailed you want your pattern to be. It gave me the choice of using anywhere from ten to seventy different thread colors (& it actually tells you exactly what colors you will need, which is handy). I went with something in the middle, & have been stitching away. I might try a portrait of Ramona next. I kind of want to do a cross stitched version of Ramona’s birth photo, despite the gore…
Hard to believe that was almost four years ago. Her birthday is on Wednesday. When asked what she wants gift-wise, she says, “A circle, a triangle, & a square.” ??? I might just take her to the toy store & let her pick out a few things.
Any other cross stitch aficionados reading this?