Monday 7 May 2012


I’ve been working on a cross-stitch picture for a friend of mine’s baby and I’m getting to the final stretch.  With some luck, I should have it finished in the next few weeks.

I first starting stitching about ten years ago.  I find it very soothing because there’s a direct tie between effort and result.  Put in the work and you’ll get your result every single time.  Sometimes it’s a lot of work but it’s always a limited amount.  Eventually you get to the end of the piece.

There’s a lot in life where the results aren’t guaranteed, no matter how much work you put in.  Or you discover that the work will never actually end.  Like being fit and healthy.  Despite what diet ads would like us to believe, there is no end-game, no goal.  Once you reach your goal weight or fitness, you then have to continue maintaining it for the rest of your life.  It’s exhausting and discouraging.

But cross-stitch is simple and direct.  Tiny little stitches in cloth that add up to a beautiful picture.  Even if a picture has a million stitches, it’s still a limited number.  I usually work on the paint-by-stitch kits where none of the underlying fabric is visible when you finish.  I did a piece for each of my boys.  Alex’s is a lighthouse on a cliff overlooking a stormy sea.  Nathan’s is an eagle flying over a mountain range and lake, all lit by the rising sun.  Each of them took over a year to complete, working here and there while watching TV.

I like watching something whole emerge from the odd-looking patterns of colour.  There’s a point about three quarters of the way through where the negative space you haven’t stitched yet starts to show a defined pattern.  At that point, it starts to feel more like completing an image than creating it.  It’s a satisfying point of encouragement after a lot of long work.

My one frustration is that a lot of the available patterns for cross-stitch are cutesy, country type images.  Kittens, rustic equipment, flowers.  It’s nice but it’s not to my taste.  However, I found a bunch of programs which transform any image into a cross-stitch pattern.  I was able to feed in some comic book images and got some really interesting pictures.  When I finish the picture for little Sophia, I might see about doing a sci-fi landscape.

Sometimes I think the concept of a comic book cross-stitch or a sci-fi cross-stitch neatly sums up the dichotomy of my personality.  It’s nice to be a house-geek.

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