Friday, March 12

To Stitch or Not to Stitch?

When I was little my mom taught me how to cross stitch. I was really into if for a few months but then I stopped for like, 15 years. Now I'm thinking about starting it up again. Cross stitch is one of those things you never forget how to do. Plus, it's totally mindless so you can do it in front of the TV or at the pool or in line at the DMV or where ever.

So what do you think? Should I take up this traditional folk craft again or is it too...what's the phrase...

Golden Girls Cross Stitch Pattern

Speaking of old, cross stitch has been around for centuries. It can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty in China (618-906 AD) and has been a popular women's craft in virturally every culture since the middle ages. (1)

We saw some gorgeous examples of Chinese cross stitch and embroidery on a recent trip to China but unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures! (When a communist government says no pictures, they mean no pictures.) Chinese street markets and shops are filled all kinds of hand stitching, from exquisitely ornate to hideously tacky. I did alot of browsing, but in the end I didn't bring any home. The prices for works of noticeably good quality were steep and I wasn't willing to take any chances on buying something that was a fake.

Here are two beautiful examples of Chinese needlework from Ruby Lane:

Quiq Framed Embroidery, c. 18th century
Nicole La Bay via Ruby Lane

Suzhlou Silk Birds, c. 1950's
Bittersweet Antiques via Ruby Lane

By the 1600's the popularity of the Sampler was on the rise. (1) The first known sampler was made by a British woman named Jane Bostocke in 1598 and it is currently on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Samplers grew to play a major role in the education of young girls and traditionally included the alphabet and numbers. More detailed works included bible verses and primitive depictions of animals and flowers.

As the role of women in society and the work place changed and technology evolved, samplers become simply an amusing pastime. By the WWII, the cross stitch sampler's popularity had waned almost completely.

Antique Sampler
Ken's Antiques and Auctions of
Kingston, Georgia, Photo via Luxist Blog

Lately, cross stitch has seen a bit of a revival, which I believe is thanks to the wide variety of clever free patterns available online. As both a nerd and a child of the late 80's, this one by Johloh cracks me up:

Duck Hunt Cross Stitch

(PS: Johloh runs a website called Sprite Stitch, which is dedicated to "Video Game Crafts." I kid you not.)

While I do believe that the basset hound would look really good in a Duck Hunt bandana, I think I'm going to start out with one of these cute printable patterns by Andwabisabi Cross Stitch:

1) The Cross Stitch Guild, Threads of History by Jo Verso


  1. Hi! Thanks for showing my Golden Girls cross stitch from my shop. You two have a really cute blog!

  2. Thanks Babs! I love your pattern and I love the Golden Girls...having their faces on a pillow would be awesome!