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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sewing (02/22/07)

TITLE: Cross-stitching
By Kathy Alvarez


My first stab at counted cross-stitch was a birth sampler for my son. By then I had two children, a boy and a girl, and I came across two merry-go-round themed kits...one a horse that was designed for a boy, and the other an elephant that was designed for a girl...and I thought it would be nice to have two coordinating samplers for my children. In each pattern the animal is on a pole under a striped parasol-like covering. The horse and the elephant are both gray; the difference is the pole and parasol for the boy is green and blue, for the girl they are green and pink.

They were actually fairly easy patterns to follow, as the stripes were one color green, blue, or pink; the horse and elephant solid gray. So it was simply a matter of counting how many stitches were needed in each row to create the picture.

With time I advanced into more complicated patterns. One is a cross-stitch picture that I did of an English Springer Spaniel that I even adapted to match the markings of our beloved dog, Matty. In this case, however, the brown is not just one color brown, but a mix of several variations of brown, tan, and white. So rather than being able to go across one row with just one color there are, for example, two stitches of one shade, one stitch of another, three stitches of a third, etc., to create the shading. Very similar to paint-by-number only you end up with all these threads hanging from the back of the piece.

Through experience and exposure to others' work I learned what makes a quality cross-stitch piece was not just how it looked from the front, or outside, but how neat it was on the inside...the part unseen when framed. There is a technique to 'carrying' the threads, weaving them in such a way that the back of the piece is as smooth as the front. Some people never learn this technique, or don't bother, and while their work looks wonderful on the outside, turn it around and it's a jumbled mess. Framers and others familiar with cross-stitch notice this, and I wanted not only to be proud of my work in their eyes, but to have the satisfaction of knowing I did the job well.

Even with this knowledge there were times I made mistakes...threads would knot, I'd use the wrong color, perhaps miscount the stitches needed. Sometimes I'd have to correct the mistakes, other times my experience gave me the ability compensate in some way for the mistake so that it wouldn't be noticed. Each cross-stitcher has their own 'signature', created by the tension they use in their sewing. Also, no two pieces are alike in that each person will have made their own 'mistakes', varying the original pattern to some small degree.

As is often said, our lives are works in progress. With time more threads are added to the picture to create the shadings of life. Like the cross-stitch pictures I sew, knots occur, mistakes are made, the pattern isn't always followed exactly. Yet we have the confidence that through Christ the final picture will be one framed in beauty and perfection, each unique, both on the outside and the inside.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jacquelyn Horne03/02/07
Yes, learning to be particular is important in our sewing and also in our lives. Good pov.
Joanney Uthe03/08/07
Great message. I like the image of God framing our lives, mistakes and all, and seeing them as beautiful. Well done.