I just finished a counted cross-stitch picture that I plan to hang in my living room. Start to finish, working on it off and on and procrastinating it to death, it took about six months to complete. Cross-stitch is definitely not one of those quickie projects.
But it’s one of my greatest joys. I picked up the art some thirty years ago when I got sick and the doctor ordered bed rest. I had four little kids at the time, and their father thought I was making it all up to get attention. Needless to say, that was a really bad year. But I needed something to do while I was lazily lounging in bed, so I did this. Cross-stitch is the only good that came out of that year. And I’m enjoying my “selfish indulgence” to this day.
It’s not hard to do counted cross-stitch. The stitch is simple — just an x. I think the real talent lies with the people who know how to make the patterns. For me, the challenge comes from placing those colored x’s in the proper places to create a picture. Think of it as paint-by-numbers with needle and thread. But I love how it takes that thread and turns it into a 3-dimensional painting. I tend to select classic art for these projects (I’ve got one of DaVinci’s Last Supper on my dining room wall). But there are so many really beautiful options to choose from — birds and lady bugs, princesses and fairies, flowers and landscapes, cars and trains. Whatever you little heart desires, you can find a cross-stitch picture of it.
They say counted cross-stitch is a dying art, like quilting. I think the reason might be that it takes so long. I worked on one project for a full year. That does take a bit of patience, and it doesn’t fit too well with today’s penchant for instant gratification. Personally, I’m not too worried about its ultimate demise any time soon. I belong to a Facebook group that boasts 20,000 members (yes, I typed that number right). We swap stories, ask advice, boast about thrift store finds, post pics of our latest creations and “stitching buddies” (aka our cats), brag up husbands who pull out their wallets and build cabinets to store thread. In short, I found myself a home where I’m welcomed with open arms. I fit right in. Except for the doting husband and cat, anyway.
As I put the finishing touches on this picture, I let out a deep sigh. It was so deep and contented that it actually surprised me. Here I am, sitting in an apartment that I found and paid for myself, which has been decorated according to my own personal taste, that looks and feels like…me. Here, alone in this safe place, I no longer need to defend my right to sit down to a hobby I enjoy. I don’t have to worry about getting yelled at for “spending too much money.” Nobody is here to guilt-trip me for doing something that doesn’t directly benefit them.
I’m in a very good place. And I’m doing what I love. I’m free to be myself. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to finish washing my new artwork and get it ready for framing.