Confession

I have a confession to make. My name is Misty and I am a cross-stitch-a-holic.

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When I was a teen my mom cross-stitched cute little pictures of grapes and pears for the kitchen. She progressed on to dilapidated, country gas pumps and old cars. I liked the hobby but lacked the interest in farm equipment. I worked on a Jesus sampler in a desultory fashion for about 6 years. I carried it from Arkansas to Alabama to North Carolina.

While in North Carolina, I realized I needed a hobby to keep me busy while Stephen was working 100 hour weeks at grad school. So out came the sampler. When I finished the Jesus sampler, I wanted to work on something that would please Stephen so I took him shopping for my next project. This is how “The Map” came into our lives.

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While Stephen was ogling “The Map” in the store, I thought to myself, “That’s not so hard, there’s lots of empty space on there.” So we bought it and I started the project. Not too far into working on it I realized I had made a huge stitching error. So I set aside the map and didn’t work on it for several years.

Stephen teased me about not finishing “The Map,” A LOT. So one day, I got it out. I took a good look at it again and decided that the error wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought and that only someone looking at it very closely would see it. So I started working again and realized it was something that I really loved. I mean, really truly enjoyed. It was something I looked forward to doing while I was at work. I daydreamed about what project I would do next. It was my secret obsession.

Why was it secret? Cause it was an old lady hobby. I knew that only old ladies did handwork. Twenty-somethings go to clubs and get tattoos, they don’t stay at home and do handwork. At least that’s what I thought. Then I found a cross-stitch store in Cary, North Carolina. It was very close to where I worked at the time so I went during lunch one day.

To say You Count with Freda was a revelation seems like an overstatement. But really that’s not too far from the truth. I don’t know if the products I saw that day were always available or if something happened between the time I started cross-stitching in high school and the time I picked in back up in North Carolina. But there was some truly beautiful stuff in that store. More than just country pink and blue, more than just old-fashioned samplers, there were fantasy pieces, oriental pieces, large eye-catching detailed masterpieces in linen and silk. I had no idea you could make pictures with cloth and thread.

And the people in the store were young! Maybe not as young as me (24-ish) but the owner, Freda, was in her early 30s. So I started to feel not so weird having this hobby.

Then I started with the buying. I was good at first, I only had about 3 projects at any one time that I had materials for that was either waiting to be started or already in progress. When we moved to Alabama in October 2002 I was sad that I was leaving one of the best stores ever created but I had amassed enough stuff to keep working for a while so I didn’t mind too much. And I had finished “The Map.” I gave it to Stephen as a graduation present. It only took six years.

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Just before we moved I started working on Mother’s Arms (above) by one of my favorite designers, Nora Corbett. So I was in a stitching frenzy to finish it. I wanted it completely done so I could hang it in the baby’s room. I wasn’t even pregnant yet but I knew that would hang in the nursery. I finished it and had it framed well before Eli was even thought about. I worked on a few other projects off and on but felt sure that I wouldn’t cross-stitch after Eli was born. So I worked very hard to finish the very last project while I was pregnant.

I was sad for a while, because I thought I’d have to give up my hobby for my kid. And I did for a while. I didn’t every actually try to nurse and cross-stitch at the same time but I knew instinctively that it would be a disaster. But then some time passed and it became clear that Eli wouldn’t fill my every waking moment. So I started working again and for Christmas this past year finished Shimmering Mermaid (also by Nora Corbett) for my mom. She loves it!

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Unfortunately, I’m so much slower now than I was pre-Eli. I’ve continued to buy the things that interest me but I don’t have the same amount of time to work on stuff as I once did. So my collection is large. I probably have 3-5 years of stuff to work on, right now, without buying another thread or bead.

Here are a few other projects I’ve finished over the years.

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The best part is I’ve sucked my friend Ashley into my obsession. Before Christmas this past year she decided she’d make some presents. So she started cross-stitching stuff. I have a sewing circle now! I have a partner in crime! I have someone who understands about the husband getting mad when you spend $50 on stuff you might not complete before 2010! She and I got hooked on a designer named Terrance Nolan. Between the two of us I think we have nine of a possible 13 of his Wee Beesties collection. So far I’ve finished one and a half.

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Currently, my thing is samplers. I used to hate them because they seemed so old-fashioned. Why would you spend so much time doing what is essentially the ABCs? But even that has changed with the fashion. Or maybe Eli sings the ABCs so much it has rattled my thinking.

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The Remember Me Sampler (above) is an English adaptation of various European band samplers with a beautiful verse by Robert Bridges called “I Love All Beauteous Things” at the top and updated colors to make it feel more modern. What is in the picture above is the top half.

The whole thing has 58 of those green leaves.

I only have 39.5 more leaves to go before I can start another project. I can’t wait!

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