SBQ: Other crafts?

This week­end’s Stitch­ing Blog­gers Question:

Are there oth­er crafts that you have tried and aban­doned? Why do you like stitch­ing better?

Short ver­sion: Because it’s one of the few visu­al­ly-beau­ti­ful things I’ve ever been good at.

Long ver­sion:
My grand­moth­ers quilt­ed and cro­cheted, and while I helped Grand­moth­er top-stitch some of her quilts, and tried to learn cro­chet from Mama Sadie, I did­n’t real­ly take to either. In fact, I did­n’t man­age any­thing bet­ter than a lit­tle fin­ger chain with the cro­chet. I could­n’t ever man­age the needle.

Grand­moth­er, Aunt Mer­cedes, and my cousin Wade spent some time with us one year when I was a teen. Aunt Mer­cedes was stitch­ing, and I was fas­ci­nat­ed with the floss. She was work­ing with cot­ton DMC, most­ly, but also had a skein of white ray­on floss, so silky and gor­geous.1I know now that the stuff is a bitch to use, but I still love how it looks and feels! I like the feel of silk even bet­ter, though.

A week or so lat­er I got the mate­ri­als to make a birth­day gift for my friend Michelle. The design was a big one, a gor­geous uni­corn from Can­damar Designs. It was an insane choice for a begin­ner, but I learned a lot! I wish I had a pho­to of it. In any case, I was hooked and left my job at Davi­son’s2Fore­run­ner of Macy’s in the Atlanta area for a job at Rod­er­ick­’s Arts & Crafts in the big new mall clos­er to my school.

I tried oth­er things while I worked there. I can­dlewicked a pil­low top for my par­ents, but again, I don’t have a pho­to3My sib­lings got rid of it while “help­ing Mom clean” when Mom was out of town a few years lat­er. They did a lot of things like that. It had noth­ing to do with the pil­low, which they assumed was store-bought. I tried my hand at some­thing that involved punch­ing holes through met­al in a pat­tern — tin-punch? It was real­ly pop­u­lar in the coun­try dec­o­rat­ing style that was in style back in the 1980s. I did some­thing a tiny bit of needle­point, some chick­en-scratch, and a lit­tle black­work. I tried to learn knit­ting but was a total flop at that and bow-tying. Bow-tying was a big deal then, really—I took the class for that two or three times before I quit try­ing.4Peo­ple paid a ridicu­lous amount of mon­ey to have those bows tied, so I had to make sure an accom­plished bow-tier was always sched­uled to work with me. Seri­ous­ly, I don’t know why they did­n’t pay less to just take the class!

But I could do cross-stitch. It’s real­ly like paint-by-num­bers with a nee­dle, except that you can frog5Rip out — get it? Rip-it, rip-it! That’s tru­ly what it’s called, I did not make this up! any mis­takes and nobody else will ever know that you made them. Since I’m a total doo­fus with a paint­brush, and can’t draw rec­og­niz­able stick fig­ures, being able to make love­ly pic­tures with a nee­dle was fair­ly amazing.

I’ve done some bead­ing, too, and made some love­ly things. It isn’t near­ly as portable as stitch­ing is, though, and far more dif­fi­cult to do in the kids and cats chaos that has ruled much of my time for many years. I’ve always want­ed to try weav­ing, but haven’t had the oppor­tu­ni­ty. I wove a met­ric but­t­load of pothold­ers as a kid, using a lit­tle plas­tic loom and cot­ton6Prefer­ably because the poly­ester ones melt if exposed to much heat “loop­ers,” which was the only thing I actu­al­ly learned in Brown­ies. I enjoyed that, as lim­it­ed as it was, so I fig­ure the real thing might not be beyond me.

I fell out of the habit of stitch­ing when I was mar­ried to hus­band v.2, because he was so damned neg­a­tive about every­thing. I picked it up again in 1996 after surgery for a repet­i­tive strain injury that left me with­out any feel­ing in most of my left hand. Why pay for bor­ing occu­pa­tion­al or phys­i­cal ther­a­py that I had to trav­el some­where else for, then had noth­ing to show for after­ward, when I could do it bet­ter myself with needle­work? Today, nobody knows about the numb­ness unless I men­tion it.

I found myself very bored by the same old pat­terns by then, though. The rest of the world moved out of the “coun­try every­thing” style, right? So why did­n’t the cross-stitch design­ers and pub­lish­ers? Oh, well, there were also the ump­ty-mil­lion ver­sions of that “Foot­steps in the Sand” glurge, for a change! Or lots of dif­fer­ent sam­plers fea­tur­ing the same Bible vers­es, over and over again.7Some day, I swear, I will design some­thing based on select pas­sages from the Song of Songs.

Since I had a web­site by then, and seemed to keep post­ing the same links to rec.crafts.textile.needlework over and over again, I start­ed pub­lish­ing lists of atyp­i­cal pat­terns, then added pagan needle­work, and lat­er Celtic designs. Then I began design­ing my own pat­terns.

I also real­ized the val­ue of stitch­ing as a med­i­ta­tive prac­tice at some point. I’m not good at the “emp­ty mind” sort of med­i­ta­tion. Stitch­ing keeps my mon­key brain busy and lets the rest of me get on to bet­ter things. I get ner­vous if I don’t have some way to keep my hands busy, so it’s a good anx­i­ety release, too. I’ve heard peo­ple say the same about knit­ting and cro­chet­ing, and claim that they’re even bet­ter for that pur­pose, but unless I some­how man­age to get past my ear­li­er fail­ures in those two areas, I’ll nev­er know for myself.

All the graph­ics are pieced I’ve stitched, though not ones I designed. I did­n’t have access to a very good cam­era for some of the pho­tos, unfor­tu­nate­ly. There’s also glare from the glass on the framed pieces. More pieces, and infor­ma­tion on these, are over here. Yeah, yet anoth­er sec­tion that needs to be moved into Word­Press and updated.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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4 thoughts on “SBQ: Other crafts?

  1. Pingback: » SBQ: Other crafts?
  2. Your work is beautiful 🙂

    There are plen­ty of crafts I’m not doing right now, but that’s more for lack of time than lack of inter­est. I was con­sid­er­ing aban­don­ing stitch­ing some years ago, but then I found a fly­er of small but­ter­fly charts 🙂 And I was­n’t going to pick up real­ly fan­cy stitch­ing, but then Waya lured me with TW’s free designs; I’m like­ly to start one of those soonish. 

    And now I need to decide what I’ll do for today’s Thing a Day thing 🙂

  3. It struck me fun­ny how you picked up stitch­ing because you could do it. Thats the same rea­son I picked up bead­ing as a hob­by. I could­n’t for the life of me seem to find any oth­er thing where the end result did­n’t end up like crap!

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