Cross stitch was my first craft. My first serious crafting memory was working with my mom to cross stitch either a dragon or a dinosaur onto a bib for my then-not-born/now-22-and-6-foot-tall brother. I think the dino/dragon was purple and green. I would have been about 5 years old then. Since then, I’ve cross stitched on and off, starting and abandoning a lot more projects than I finished along the way. I think the first project I actually finished on my own was a little jump-roping bear design that said “No pain, no gain.” Such a weird project for a kid. After that, I think it was a Precious Moments design that my dad still has hanging in his church office. Which is all to say that I have not always made crafting look cool.
Honestly? Cross stitching makes me feel kinda dowdy. I’ll talk about my knitting from here to kingdom come, but I keep quiet about the cross stitching like it’s my craft shame. When people find out that I do cross stitch, I get uncomfortable and start looking for ways to sweep it back under the rug. There’s probably something deeper at work with my craft shame, but the design market for cross stitch certainly isn’t helping. The majority of cross stitch designs seem to fall into a handful of unappealing categories: motivational sayings, cutesy cartoons, country florals, religious stuff, and cultural appropriations. (Seriously. The number of cross stitch designs described as “oriental” is disturbing.) I know there are a host of independent cross stitch designers on Etsy and such, but a lot of these designs don’t appeal to me for an entirely different set of reasons—a lot of them strike me as very twee, but they also tend towards small-scale designs that are moreso aimed at beginners. I find myself wanting more complex patterns that will take me longer than an evening to finish and that I can put to good use. That is, more complex patterns that don’t involve dragons or Jesus. They’re just not my jam.
This project is helping me reconcile my relationship with cross stitch. It is another gift of sorts, on it’s way to California for my friend who is also the recipient of the monster-themed baby gift. Her family is making a quilt for her baby that will be made up of 5” squares contributed by family and friends, with each quilt square representing a different family. So she asked Aidan and I to contribute a square to represent our family, and after some discussion, we decided a little typewriter design nicely reflected my writing and Aidan’s vintage typewriter collection. I found this little cross stitch design from Tiny Modernist on Etsy and managed to stitch it up over a weekend. This is the first time I’ve downloaded a cross stitch design from an independent designer, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. The pattern came with a full color chart that was very easy to follow. Since it was a small design, I just worked on it with my laptop open next to me, but the pattern also comes with instructions for printing a folding design onto card stock, which is a nice feature for people who are more motivated than I am. Tiny Modernist has a lot of really great designs—I really like this kitchen gadget design and I’ve already started working on this sewing machine, which is part of the same vintage series as the typewriter design. I can definitely see myself making more her work since they do not fall into any of the aforementioned no-no categories.
The finished design measures about 4”x3”. Some quicky internet research suggested applying a lightweight interfacing to the back of a cross stitch square meant for a quilt as a way to secure the stitches, so that’s what I did. I also added our fake last name (which is a hybrid of our respective last names that we use as a funny short-hand with friends), as well as the Rukeyser quote. I’m not totally sure this is what my friend had in mind when she asked for a square for her quilt, but she specifically said “it can be anything” and I take these kinds of instructions very seriously. Anyway. I hope it is appreciated, and I hope it lets our new little baby friend know that we are weird and dorky people.
Am I the only one who experiences craft shame?