I Rediscovered My Love of an Old Hobby

I Rediscovered My Love of an Old Hobby

Sometimes I forget that this blog isn’t just supposed to be about writing and my particular projects. One of my goals for writing here is to keep people up to date about what’s going on in my life.

The main problem is, I often think my life is boring and that I myself am uninteresting. Lots of people have been correcting me of late, however, which leads me to think that I might actually be slightly more interesting than I tend to think.

When I sat down to write this particular post, I had a hard time thinking of what to say. I started thinking back over the last few months. And aside from all the crazy health and house-related things that happened over the summer, I had a hard time thinking of anything worth mentioning.

Until I remembered that I recently started cross-stitching again. That gave me pause.

Crafting runs in the family.

Crafting has been part of my life forever. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom and grandmother sitting on the couch crocheting. There used to be craft fairs in the local mall every couple months, and they often set up a booth to sell what they made.

My mom eventually ran out of time for crafting because work and three kids took up ever more of her time. But my grandmother kept her hands busy with crocheting right up to the end of her life. She made pretty much anything. I still have a blanket she crochet for me after I encountered it in a catalogue and fell in love with it. It’s a simple design of different shades of blue and white, but it’s a large and comfortable blanket and I treasure it.

She also made doll clothes. That was the one I remember most. She would buy little plastic dolls to display them. Sometimes people bought the whole doll and sometimes people just wanted the clothes for their own dolls. Some of those dresses were pretty spectacular, as intricate and detailed as full-sized dresses even though they were pretty much just made from yarn.

I’m sure I can’t remember the full list of her designs anymore. Stuffed animals was another big one. She also made tissue box covers. My mother was also a seamstress – she made custom Halloween costumes for us every year. It was a highlight to get to pick what we wanted to be. Sometimes we picked something impossible and she found ways to modify existing costumes. She even designed me a Batgirl costume out of a Batman design because, back then, Batgirl was impossible to find.

It never really caught on for me.

I spent a lot of time in their craft stand as a kid. It was mostly quietly sitting and waiting in between bouts of exploring the mall (an exciting prospect for a little kid). But I kept right on sitting with them into my early teens. I spent most of that quiet time either reading or writing – two of my favorite past times. But it was inevitable that somewhere along the line they would try to teach me some of their crafts.

I remember learning to crochet. I remember the trick of making the stitches small and tight instead of huge and clumsy like they were at first. But I don’t remember how to do it anymore because it’s been far too long. But I do remember how proud I was of my early attempts.

I never quite got the hang of following a pattern to make anything bigger than a couple rows long. I’m not sure if I can say it was patience, but it just didn’t hold my attention. Not against the deadly foes of reading and writing.

I also learned what my grandma used to call ‘plastic canvas.’ This is a lot like cross-stitching except you use a stiff plastic canvas and yarn for the stitches instead of cloth canvas and embroidery floss. I took to this a bit more than crocheting, perhaps because you can see the pattern starting to take shape. But we mostly used these for tissue box covers, and you had to repeat the pattern 4 times in order to finish one. (A feat I only ever managed to accomplish once.)

Cross-stitch has always been within my awareness.

I can’t really remember how I got into counted cross-stitch. I seem to think I had a few simple kits in high school and just chipped away at them over the years on and off. It was something I kept coming back to. It’s a fiddly sort of craft, and it takes a long time if you’re working on a sizable project. But there’s something so soothing about counting out those little squares and arranging them perfectly along the canvas.

It’s kind of like creating pixel art without digital tools.

I have two finished cross-stitch projects hanging in our house. One is a wolf in a dream catcher and one is a sun and moon design. I have been working on a second wolf cross-stitch on and off for years, but I guess I keep falling out of love with it.

At some point during the pandemic, I stopped cross-stitching all together. I’m not sure why. A lot of things changed during lockdowns, of course. Finding ways to cope with the state of the world occupied a lot of my mind. My friends and I turned to digital hangouts. This revived a lot of my love of gaming – especially Dungeons and Dragons. But the cross-stitch sat unfinished on the side of my desk.

A couple months ago, my lovely friend Flutterdye started doing craft streams. She was attempting to finish up some projects before a major move. She teamed up with my other lovely friend Wuf, who has mastered the skill of crocheting like I never could. It took me awhile to realize I had an easy way of being involved in those chill hangouts – and that they would be a perfect break for the current stress of my life.

I rediscovered the cross-stitch passion.

I picked up the cross-stitch again. And I realized that I’d stopped in the middle of a strand. Because I had to make a decision about what direction to go with the thread and I just never wanted to do that. So for almost two years I just let it sit and wait.

Almost the moment I started working on it again, though, I remembered why I enjoy this activity so much. Why it calms and relaxes me, even when it gets tough. Sure, there are sometimes tangles. I encountered a fairly big one recently while trying to fix some misaligned stitches. It was so bad, I thought I would run out of the color I was working with before I could finish. (Luckily, that didn’t end up being the case!)

It’s particularly hard for someone who is always creating new worlds, characters and stories to quiet the maelstrom of the mind. I think I love cross-stitch because it forces me to think about something, but also allows me to relax.

I have always wanted to make cross-stitch patterns to give my friends. For a long time, I hesitated, partly because of the time commitment and partly because I wasn’t sure people would be interested in such gifts. But when I caught the craft bug again, I decided to go for it!

Currently, I’m working on a Beauty and the Beast cross stitch for Flutterdye, and a horse for Wuf. Both patterns were approved ahead of time and are starting to take shape. (I switch off between them so I won’t get bored of either project.) I’ve also got my eye on a tea/ crafting pattern for our good friend Vinylstencil as well.

We currently craft every Friday evening over on Flutterdye’s twitch channel (though the day might rotate in the future) if you’re interested in seeing progress on the current projects.

What do you do to relax?

4 Replies to “I Rediscovered My Love of an Old Hobby”

  1. In Lockdown I took up weaving… and then weaving led to embroidery… and then embroidery led to cross-stitch. I think my crafts are multiplying at this point! Lol.

    1. That’s awesome! :D I’d be interested in learning how similar embroidery is to cross stitch… I feel like I would struggle without the canvas grid ^^;;

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