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Monday, October 03, 2005

x stitch is ...

I was discussing waste canvas and cross stitch with Linda of chloe's place and it led me to wondering how I feel about cross stitch. A little background. I started cross stitching when my children, now 15, 13 & 12 were little. In those days small portable projects which didn't require too much attention at the end of a long day were ideal. Cross stitch has the same meditative quality for me that plain knitting has. I always undertook quite large projects too, for weddings and christening presents and birthdays. My preference was for designs with poinient sayings appropriate to the occasion.

Some of these early works included apache wedding blessing and My child sampler which were just right for the recipients, I also started and 4/5ths finished :) the poem for the red hat society - must finish that one day! Of course I did the usual Christmas cards and pincushions as well.

This year my enthusiasm for cross stitch was rekindled by some members of the forum discussing their stitch along project for 2005, sleeping beauty. This project was begun in January and I have done no more since:( Various things prevent it's completion - none of them insurmountable. I just have yet to surmount! The eavenweave is tiring on the eyes, I need better illumination, the stand and threads etc. are annoying to take out and put away each evening and the colours are so close together that it requires a huge amount of attention to sew which I do not have at the end of the day. The chart is very small and I haven't gotten around to enlarging it. Plus, and this is the main distraction, I have moved on to other things :)

So my question is, notwithstanding the difficulties of larger projects, is cross stitch 'cheating'? Some cross stitch is very beautifully and carefully executed to be sure. It involves techniques for starting so that both threads lie in the same direction of twist, there is tramming to consider and the use of laying tools etc. but in the end no matter how carefully and time consumingly done the aim seems to be to repeat as exactly as possible someone else's design. Indeed often the designs are replicas of other media, paintings and the like, interpreted in cross stitch.

I always felt that compliments about my cross stitch were undeserved, after all anyone who can count can cross stitch, can't they? Now anyone following a pattern, in quilting, patchwork or embroidery uses the design of somebody else as a starting point, but variations in materials, skill, and the adaptations of the seamstress will generate differences from the original which become the essence of the new piece. Cross stitch seeks to be identical with the model, using the same threads and the stitch throughout. Of course this is probably a generalisation, some stitchers will use the closest threads they have to hand or go to the extremes of having hand dyed fabrics but generally I do not think this is the case, at least not in my experience.

My question really is about what I have found in returning to embroidery, after all the years I spent cross stitching, that I did not find in cross stitch itself. Partly to be sure, it is me who is different, my circumstances which have changed. But the cross stitch with waste canvas has a raw edge to it which that on Aida cannot have, by the way the stitches are formed, not through the exact hole each time. The choice of motif, the threads used, the placement are all purely that of the sewer, no third party designer dictates.

Overall it does not matter one jot. We all sew for different reasons and go where our likes and dislikes take us. At the time that I used every spare hour to cross stitch then that was what I needed to do, but I am so happy to move to new territory and even happier to feel that I can take some of what I learned there and continue to use it in CQ. Thank you Linda :)

1 comment:

Chloe said...

Pleasure is mine. :)

The most important thing for me is that everyone should develop their own style, and not imitate that of others, using whatever they need to do that - be it technique, interpretation, exploration or whatever. Therein lies to joy. And the growth.

Thank you for a thoughtful post.