You know how there’s The Joy of Painting, with Bob Ross? And it’s genius and soothing and hilarious and entertaining and just down right rad? All of those good feels are the same things I feel about needlework. Probably because I don’t paint.
When I say needlework, I guess that’s kind of an ambiguous term. For me, it means cross stitching, embroidery, or anything else I do by hand with a needle and thread. Except not mending. because I actually hate that. Everyone hates that, so don’t ever ask a person who sews if they’d like to do your mending. They might say yes, to be polite, but truthfully, ain’t nobody got time for that. But yes, cross stitching and embroidery are good for what ails ya.
I first learned to cross stitch as a wee lass. It’s probably actually one of the very first crafts I learned. My mama taught me because she always worked on cross stitch kits and I asked her if I could make one. I’m pretty sure I never finished it, but I remember thinking it was fun and enjoyable. Flash forward to my adult life, when I wanted to make a giant cross stitch for my second baby’s nursery.
I designed my own pattern for this moose and poked holes into a canvas so I could cross stitch it on there. It was kind of tedious actually, but it reminded me of how much I loved doing needlework. Ever since then (that was three years ago!) I’ve always had at least one needlework project going at at time. They are perfect for traveling, long waits at the doctor’s office, or when I sit and visit with family and friends. My husband teases me because I always have to bring my needlework.
I wanted to share a couple recent projects that I’ve finished. It tends to take me awhile to finish needlework projects, not because they take a long time necessarily, but just because I only pick them up here and there. This first one I started when I was pregnant with my baby, and I finished a few months ago when I finally put his nursery together.
If you can’t read my handwriting (or hand stitching, as it were), these are the lyrics from one of my favorite David Bowie songs, Golden Years:
I’ll stick with you baby for a thousand years
nothing’s gonna touch you in these golden years.
I have always loved David Bowie, and he passed away when I was just a few weeks away from having my baby boy. I love this song and I thought this lyric was particularly meaningful and descriptive of how I feel as a mother. I want them to have golden childhoods and protect them with all that I am. Anyway, lest I get too carried away and start weeping uncontrollably, as I often do when I think about mothering my babes, let’s get back to the needlework, shall we?
I asked my talented sister Chloe to draw me a scallop pattern, which I transfered onto my fabric, which is a Cirrus Solid by Cloud9 Fabrics (I’m absolutely bonkers for these solids. I don’t actually choose solid fabrics very often, but when I do, it’s almost always one of these. The colors are just so rich and beautiful.) Then I transferred the lettering, which I just typed into the computer in a font I liked and then traced it on my fabric. I was an idiot and used a fine point Sharpie, which bled onto my fabric, and I was so upset I almost scrapped the whole thing, but I just stitched more thickly over it. There are much better ways to do this, like using a frixion pen or freezer paper, which can transfer things you print directly onto your fabric. You live and you learn, eh?
I finished it off with little French knots, which are so much fun to do. I painted a wooden embroidery hoop black and mounted it to hang right in the hoop. I love the way it looks in the nursery and the sentiment it holds. We had family photos at my house a couple months ago (you’ve seen some before, and you’ll see them again, because I’m obsessed with them.), and our mind-blowingly brilliant photographer Meg took this photo of it without my even knowing. I was so glad she did, because she did a much better job than I could ever do.
Speaking of family portraits, here’s my other latest needlework project:
Here we are! I have wanted to do one of these for literally years! I started with this post as my inspiration. Oh Martha. The Patron Saint of a Handmade Life. Anyway, I drew individual patterns out for each family member. I did this when my baby was a newborn, and originally my figure held him in my arms. It was so cute, I kind of wish I’d still stitched it that way, but I didn’t get around to actually stitching it until about a month ago, and now he’s one, so it seemed more accurate to stitch him this way. I also had to add two little gray Russian Blue kitties, our Remy and Pippa, because we recently adopted those rascals into our family.
I cannot tell you how it thrilled me to make this. Each figure I finished brought a little squeal from my heart. My littles love it too; they got so excited when they saw themselves and kept saying “Look Daddy! It’s me! Look Daddy, it’s Remy! It’s you!”
These are obviously caricatures, so there are some inaccuracies, and you can’t capture everything about everyone, but there are some little nuances that I love. My little red Saltwater Sandals (I wear salties pretty much every day from March until October. I have many pairs.) My boy’s little turquoise glasses. My husband’s plaid shirt. He’s supposed to be much taller (he’s almost a foot taller than I am) but I didn’t realize it until after and no way was I redoing that plaid shirt. I was too proud of it and it took me a million years.
I love this so much, my only problem now is figuring out where to hang it. I want it somewhere I can always see it because it brings me so much joy. I’m excited to make another one a few years down the road when the kids are bigger (and when we have one more little one, if I can convince my husband first!). It was such a sweet project to work on and I’ll always treasure it.
In conclusion, if you’ve never tried needlework, you totally should. It’s so relaxing, helps me feel more justified in my Nextflix binge watching because at least I’m doing something while I watch, and it really is just a lovely art form. Just like Bob Ross, man.