I’m a cross stitch geek.
I like stitching—I have tons of patterns and materials and boxes full of cool projects I’ve started. My fingers start to twitch if I haven’t stitched for awhile. Whenever I’m sitting still (watching TV, around the gaming table, talking with friends, etc.) I want to be working on something. Most people in my life have more stitched stuff than they know what to do with—since cross stitching best lends itself to being framed, there’s a distinct limit to how many things you can make for people!
Stitching itself is just a tiny part of my geekdom, though. When it comes down to it, I have trouble finishing big projects and I get intimidated by fancy stitches. I prefer my projects simple, fairly quick, and straightforward—probably because I’m watching TV or rolling dice while I stitch! (If you like quick cross stitch projects, you have to check out weelittlestitches—they’re quick, easy, and adorable! My kids are learning how to cross stitch by making Christmas ornaments of the Harry Potter characters on plastic canvas.)
Where I really get geeky, though, is in design. I love to get out the graph paper and a good mechanical pencil and one of those white erasers that work so well. (Maybe someday a tablet computer and stylus will recreate this experience, but so far using a mouse to make designs on the computer just doesn’t do it for me.)
I like to adapt existing designs to suit my purposes, whether that’s changing colors or the size or combining different patterns into something new. I think my favorite thing, though, is adapting an existing picture or symbol into a pattern. I know, there’s software that supposedly does that for you. But in my experience those things make odd combinations of lots of colors that look more like a Monet painting—which is great if that’s what you’re going for, but generally I’m looking for something more traditional. I like the challenge that comes with creating a pattern that also isn’t too annoying to stitch, which a computer program typically doesn’t handle to my taste. (The other day my 9 year old son made his first pattern—a Voltorb from Pokemon! I’m so proud.)
My mom knits these awesome Christmas stockings (bear with me—this ties in) which are big and stretchy and durable (mine is her first, and more than 40 Christmases later, it’s still in great shape!). They’re also personalized—you ask for anything, and she’ll knit it for you. She’s done Peanuts characters, dragons, the John Deere logo, sports teams, you name it. How can she do that? Well, I do her designs. It’s a fun challenge—it needs to be 30 stitches wide by 80 stitches high (although wrapping the design around the back allows for some play in the width). You can’t do half or ¾ stitches in knitting, so making curves has to be handled carefully, too. I can’t use too many colors and those colors need to be worth bringing in, because apparently that’s a pain. Back stitching is also a pain (mostly because she won’t do it, which means I have to do any back stitching I’ve put in the design!) so I try to make sure the stitches alone convey the picture well enough. I don’t know how many stockings I’ve designed over the years, but it’s in the high double digits. Most of the kids (and many of the adults) in my life have a stocking I designed and my mom knit.
I often think that this actually ties in to why I like to edit. I’m not particularly good at creating things from scratch. But if you give me something to start with, I can see ways that it can be adapted and changed to better suit your purpose. I’m also pretty good at looking at the smallest minutia, while seeing how it fits into the big picture. I look at something and I see the possibilities of what could be in addition to what’s already there. It’s an exciting (if occasionally overwhelming) way to look at the world.