Thursday, February 4, 2021

I'm Not a Stitcher... am I?

I'm struggling with a bit of insomnia. I lay awake next to my husband and stare at the ceiling, toss and turn, and struggle to get my mind to shut the fuck up. I'm also being eaten alive by anxiety. Worried about absolutely everything, even especially things I can't control. So, I scroll social media in the middle of the night. I know this won't help me sleep, but it gives my brain something to focus on. 

While doing this song and dance the other night, I made the spontaneous decision to take on a stitching project someone was talking about on one of my Facebook craft groups. Um, I don't stitch, I diamond paint. Cross stitching has never been able to hold my interest, so I'm not really clear what I was thinking when I bought a pattern for a temperature cross stitch on Etsy. 

Here's the thing, stitching has too many moving parts for me. It's too messy. The chaos of constantly changing colors, counting those tiny little squares, making sure all my stitches are going the same direction, and having little loose pieces of thread everywhere triggers my anxiety. This seems kind of silly, since diamond painting isn't all that different, but diamond painting feels more manageable. And frankly, I suck at stitching. It's something I can do, but not something I do very well. No matter how hard I try, it always looks so messy.

I had plenty of chances to learn to be a good stitcher. My dad's only sister, my Aunt Pam, is an avid cross stitcher. She constantly made us cross stitched gifts. She made other things, like crocheted blankets and porcelain dolls, but cross stitch was always her first love. She tried to teach me to stitch many times, without much success. I remember vividly that we had this yellow gingham fabric in the garage, with big white and yellow squares, that she used the first time she was trying to teach me the basics.

Then, when I was in my early 20s, I did a few small cross stitch kits, but I never finished them, instead losing interest when they were half done. In the last few years, I worked on a stitch project from Subversive Cross Stitch and just about finished it, but the anxiety of having to count the stitches to finish the little flowers on the top and bottom of the project have stopped my progress. I'm a little bit of a lost cause where stitching is concerned.

So, at like 2am, I bought this temperature cross stitch pattern (cross stitching a 5x5 square each day in a color corresponding to the highest temperature that day, look it up) and decided to give it a go. When I woke up the next morning, I realized pretty quickly that I have no idea how to put together the materials for a cross stitch that didn't come in a kit. Kits have everything, patterns are just instructions. It didn't say exactly what size and count aida I would need, it didn't tell me what size needle to buy, though it did say what size the finished project would be. My sister, Candi, is a stitcher like my Aunt Pam, so she helped me figure it out and I got started yesterday. 

It took two false starts to actually get going. The first one, I had too many strands of floss and it looked kind of... quilty. The second time the strands were right but... I didn't follow the damn pattern, so I just had a square of stitches. Fantastic. On the third start, after ripping out the stitches twice, I managed to get it right. Since I decided to go back to January and start at the beginning of the year, I'm a little bit behind, but there's no rush. The weird thing is, now that I've gotten going, I'm actually having a pretty good time with it. If I actually complete this project this year, I'm going to start calling myself a stitcher.