Before knitting, I was a crocheter. Ok, that’s kinda untrue…I DID learn to knit as a kid, but stopped probably as suddenly as I started. I’ve always been crafty, though, and can draw, paint, etch, sculpt, sew(-ish),etc… When I was in high school I used to charge $5 to redraw a photograph onto 9×11 paper, in pencil. Call me Kinkos. I only took up the needles again once Yannick and I started dating.
Well the sweater I tried knitting for Yannick for our first dating anniversary didn’t get past 4″, probably because I’d found old needles at home, random acrylic from Wal-Mart, and a pattern from a book at the library, and none of the 3 had anything even remotely to do with each other. I instead taught myself to crochet, and his gift sweater led to toys, shawls, home accessories and more. I found my way back to knitting thanks to the fun fur trend of 2004, when I made a hostess gift for a friend and had to knit it because trying to crochet in fluffy black boa (feather) yarn was rediculous when you couldn’t see a single stitch.
But before getting my heart spiked on a knitting needle and fueling the last 8 years of my life, and after the months-long crochet obsession ending in 2 giant sampler blankets, there was cross stitch. I won’t get into my eBay spending, my binders of print-outs, or the time I filled the cash register tape at 120 items and had to start a new transaction when buying one of every color of Anchor floss. Here are some of my proudest xstitch items:
This was an ornament I made for an ornament exchange. The original pattern had an American flag inside, but my swap partner lived in Australia so I charted my own flag for her.
This is a little (4″ square) pillow I made of our cat Sam, using X-Stitch photo software to convert the pic to a pattern. The back was just lined with a piece of flannel cut off an old shirt.
This is a little piece I made for Robyn when she moved into her first place. (Not my design, it was from a cross stitch magazine I used to subscribe to).
My mom’s name is Betti, and everyone always buys her Betty Boop stuff. This is a vest I’d made her back when she was still teaching. There’s a product called “waste canvas” that is disolvable in water, so you baste it onto your fabric/shirt/etc, do your cross stitch, then wet it and remove the strands of waste canvas, and your cross stitch remains on the fabric below. Here I’d bought the zippered vest and used the photo software to convert a picture I’d found online.
I used a fun, football-jersey-style font to create the “letterman’s jacket” writing on the back, with more waste canvas.
That same year we were getting together with Yannick’s family for Easter, and I made the hourglass picture for his grandmother as a “thank-you” for hosting all of us. The original pattern (from the same cross stitch magazine I’d subscribed to) said something in English, like “time with the family is time that counts”, so I translated it to French since Yannick’s family is French-Canadian. I really enjoyed doing the beading in this piece.
Finally, my most “epic” cross stitch HAS to be this one. My dad isn’t sentimental, but he loves his family, and I always liked this pic of him, my sister and me. (My mom and two brothers were in another photo). I used the photo software to create a pattern using only black, white and shades of gray, and enlarged it to 9×11. I stitched it on black Aida and framed it with a plaque reading “Daddy’s Girls” and a copy of the original photo on the back. I love that from far away it looks like a real photograph and you can’t even tell it’s stitched, but I don’t see myself recreating a project like this any time soon, ‘cus it took 192 hours of stitching! (Luckily I was home on sick-leave at the time, but still…)
Why am I bringing this up now? Well a few days ago I was watching weaving videos on YouTube and saving them in a playlist (yes, I AM that kind of nerd), and a lightbulb struck when I saw a woman making floats for decorative Christmas trees, and checking her “pattern” she’d drawn with Xs on graph paper.
That was when I realized that weaving, unlike most knitting, is square. (Assuming you’re using the same weight yarn in warp and weft, and your tension is even). Maybe I should rephrase to say “plain weave” is pretty darn square. And I suddenly realized that all those cross stitch patterns snoring away in my office could be put to use if I wanted to practice using a pickup stick and weave with floats on top to “draw” designs.
But today it wasn’t a lightbulb that went off, it was a whole fireworks display.
I don’t need to weave the pictures- I can weave my fabric, a scarf, a shawl, placemats, etc…and then CROSS STITCH on it! Using my patterns and my floss stash…after all Aida and linen that you buy for cross stitching is nothing more than woven fabric at a certain number of threads to the inch.
Whoa. Mind-numbing expansion of cross-crafting possibilities here.