Cross-stitch is not for the weak

While I was in Chicago recently for a few work conferences that were back to back, conversations with girlfriends and boyfriends often turned to DIY and the crafting movement. All the cool kids are doing it, it seems. Now I’m no stranger to the DIY/crafting world as I’ve been dabbling on and off for a few years, including but not limited to the following:

But the one that seems to be all the rage in my circles is cross-stitch. I can name half a dozen people off the top of my head who currently count this as their number one crafting past-time. Their constant yammering about their projects, and since it seems you really don’t need to know how to do much other then thread a needle and sew, appealed to me. I like the idea that it is essentially paint by numbers, but with thread. (I will also admit TheHusband has asked me to put the knitting needles down as my hats keep getting more and more interesting. The latest one ended up shaped like a used condom.)

Since having an instant support group for any kind of activity appealed to me, I took myself off to Hobby Lobby tonight after work to get supplies. Since I was not fond of getting a pattern that was “of the lord” or of a fruit basket, I bought a bag of 150 colors of floss, rolled up tube of cross-stich fabric, a hoop, needles, and other accouterments as seen in the picture above. I figured I come home, have dinner, find a pattern, and go. And if I hated it, I would pawn the lot off to Kristin.

No. Not that simple.

The cross-stitch world is complicated. The surge for wanting things handmade has increased the amount of information on the topic, which makes sense since there are thousands nay millions of pages on just about any topic in the universe, according ye olde googles. But I’m a librarian! I should be able to find stuff easily. No, not quite true either. Bad taxonomy and tag stuffing also thwarted my plans. After an hour of looking for patterns, for an easy one I could do in a few hours, turned out to be horribly wrong. I had thought of coughing up a few bucks to Subversive Cross Stitch, whom I long amired, only to find as I was going through their patterns, nothing appealed.

Kristin suggested creating my own pattern, using something like MyPhotoStitch to generate the colors and patterns for me. But the problem is that I wanted to do something BIG AND FLASHY vroom vroom, when I still need training wheels. So instead of creating something that requires 44 different flavors of floss, I need something that has say, eight. Tomorrow when I’m not feeling so emotionally drained, I’ll probably create a TARDIS or something Doctor Who related.

And hopefully this time, nothing will come out shaped like a used condom.


1. The proof that I broke even on my investment with Excessively Diverting proved to me that I could make and sell something of my own creation, which is a huge confidence boost. Now only if could apply that to other things in my life.

1 Comment

  • Michelle B

    17 May 2012 at 13:59

    Hi Lisa. I read your post with interest and then amusement. I am in Chicago and I have been an avid cross stitcher since 2003. I do have many friends that stitch now or did in the past but I had no idea it was suddenly now the “new hip thing” among “cool kids.” I think I am about 2 years (?) older than you. I thought knitting was still in that top spot. Everyone seems to be on ravelry. I wish there was similar for xs. Or at least an app where I could track what DMC and other floss I own so when I shop I know what I am missing.

    I would suggest you get a kit rather than buying all the separate pieces. First, no way to know if the fabric you bought will work with the pattern you like. For instance, Aida is most available at HL, in counts like 14-16-18. Personally I detest Aida and rarely use it, so most of the patterns I like call for linen or evenweave. Of course you can adapt patterns but I wouldn’t do that on your first try out.

    Anyway a kit will include the pattern, the correct size and count of fabric, needles, all threads, and thread organizers. You can buy one and just start right away. I have seen them at HL though in the last 5 years stitch offerings at bigger craft stores have really dwindled.

    You can also find lots of great patterns online and some in kits. Like The Library by Little House Needleworks:

    My favorite that i have done so far: The Oak Island Mystery pirate map:

    IN fact I love ALL of the literary designs from Lynn Nicoletti

    That Doctor Who Angel project was very cool. I myself would not do it bc 1) I hate Aida. I stitch over 2 and with Aida I can only stitch over 1 (1 thread). 2) I love patterns with words and letters but I hate to stitch words and letters. Sadly. 3) I like more color in my patterns. There were a lot of floss colors but the pattern looked mostly black and white and gray. To get that photographic look, you would need to do a lot of half stitches and 3/4 stitches to get the curved lines. Those can be tough against black especially.

    Some of the cool patterns I’ve pinned that I want to do…
    Zombies! http://pinterest.com/pin/89790586290229239/
    Martini Witches! http://pinterest.com/pin/89790586290229270/
    Voodoo! http://pinterest.com/pin/89790586290191032/
    Big Bang Theory http://pinterest.com/pin/89790586290182431/
    Breakfast Club http://pinterest.com/pin/89790586290178864/

    If you are ever in the Chicago area I recommend Welcome Stitchery — they sell patterns, kits, all the fabric you could want or need, beads, buttons, scissors, everything. They also sell online.

    I just don’t have enough walls in my house….