Sunday, November 24, 2013

Renewing an old friendship -- Counted Cross Stitch

When I was in law school many years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to counted cross stitch.  She was making a gift for someone, and came back from a needlework store with all kinds of stuff -- a chart, fabric, embroidery floss, and so forth.  When she showed me what all of it was, and what you did with it, I was entranced.  That happenstance introduced me to what became my primary hobby for quite a few years.

Well, then life intervened.  I had two kids, developed arthritis in my hands, and found that my eyesight wasn't what it used to be.  It got harder to see those tiny embroidery stitches, and my hands would often hurt after cross stitching.  So, somewhere along the line, I stopped doing cross stitch and took up scrapbooking, card-making, and rubber stamping.  I did think about cross stitch sometimes, mostly when I had occasion to go down to the basement and see my several boxes of cross stitch supplies, all neatly packed away.

My kids are now 19 and 13, and as best I can remember, I stopped doing cross stitch within a year or so after my younger son was born.  So it's been at least 12 years since I picked up a needle and floss.

Then a funny thing happened.  In September, someone on the scrapbooking message board where I hang out posted for advice, saying she had not done counted cross stitch in many years and wanted to get back into it.  Several people posted, saying they were in the same situation, and other active stitches put in their two cents.  I recommended some designers to the poster, and later that night, as I lay in bed, I started thinking about how much I used to love cross stitching.  Although I knew most of my supplies were in the basement, I also knew that I had a few things in the bottom drawer of what used to be my stitching table.  So, the next day, I rooted around and I found the three projects that I had in-process when I had decided that I couldn't cross stitch any more.  Over the next couple of days, I found everything -- my favorite hoop, the box of floss I had all organized with the colors I needed for those three projects, my needles and scissors..

I started thinking.  I still have arthritis in my hands, but I take a daily pain reliever now and the pain is much more manageable.  My vision is still bad, but somewhere along the line I discovered reading glasses and how great they are for failing , "over-40" vision.

So I decided to give cross stitching another try.  One sunny Friday afternoon that I had off work, I took out the project that you see in the picture above, I threaded a needle, opened up the chart for the design, put on my reading glasses, and... took a stitch.  

Friends, I don't know how to put it into words, but the best I can do is to say that as I made those tiny crosses that afternoon, I literally felt calmness and serenity wash over me like a soothing ointment.  I couldn't imagine why I had ever stopped cross stitching.  You see, I love everything about it -- the texture of the tiny crosses on the fabric, the feel of a beautiful piece of linen in my hand, the orderly precision of all of those rows of Xs, all lined up, the unfolding of a beautiful design.

So, long story short, I've been cross stitching like a madwoman ever since I renewed this wonderful friendship.  The design I'm working on at the moment, pictured above, is called "Spring Queen," and it's by one of my favorite designers, Nora Corbett of Mirabilia.  I'm close enough to the finish on this design that I'm working on it exclusively.

I'll post a picture when I'm finished!  In the meantime, is there a hobby that YOU once left behind, for an understandable reason or for no reason at all?  Maybe it's time to revisit something that gave you so much joy.  I am ecstatic that I rediscovered my love of cross stitch, and I don't see myself putting down my needle again for a long, long time.