I am a frustrated crafter. I was all thumbs when I was growing up. I failed miserably in many craft-related projects and while I would get outstanding marks for Math and Science, my lowest grades were always Work Ed and predictably, PE (I was fat too, heehee.)
For some reason, there was always a disconnect between the vision in my mind and the things my hands could create. Science was easy compared to Work Ed. Everything was precise and accurate with Science; all you needed were steady hands, keen eyes (even myopics could handle the graduations in many cylinders) and an objective disposition. (Hey, my recipes look like chemistry notes! Honest!)
Arts and Crafts, however, were a whole new world altogether! You have to gauge the tension of your crocheting so the chains don’t wind up too small and too tight or too loose and too large. Knitting was an awful way to poke my eyes and rushing to the ER for a consult was an even more humiliating experience. (Lucky for me, I just scraped my corneas.) Embroidery was another one of my failings: I could never achieve the kind of satin stitches my mother could make. Mine always looked ragged, sparse, and bald. Boohoo.
Somewhere along the way, however, I discovered a craft that appealed to my less nimble fingers. It was no less tedious or creative or beautiful, but it was easy enough to start with for someone like me. It also felt more predictable to me (more so than other stitching crafts which relied a lot on gut feel and instinct) and to make things easier, I could use a cloth with holes! Hallelujah!
And so I discovered cross stitch, in the last few months of senior year in high school. This was my very first pattern. I bought it for PhP7.00 at SM North in 1985.
My first attempt, although awful looking and raggedy by serious standards, was still a considerable feat on my part, clumsy fingers and all. I gave it away as a gift to a friend, who did my self-esteem a favor by graciously displaying it in her new baby’s room. I have kept this pattern with me since then, and when I look at it, I remember my first project with great pride and joy.
Over the years, I have kept at this more than any other craft I dabbled on. Eventually, I did learn the basics of many crafts but nothing ever really caught on like cross stitching for me. I remember cross stitching my way through Psych rotation during clerkship in medical school. I always had a small project with me in my bag, for the very rare times when there were no emergencies of any kind on a duty night.
When Alphonse was diagnosed with autism, it was cross stitching that helped saved my sanity. Imagine the long hours waiting for therapies to finish and you can imagine how I lived many years in waiting rooms of different schools and therapy centers. Books helped, of course, as also the Gameboy (this was before the era of other handheld gaming consoles) but nothing eased those long hours like the repetitive motions of stitching.
Let me digress a bit and share a funny story from those cross stitching days:
Alphonse was two years old at that time, and still in diapers. I was cross stitching one afternoon while watching him play with a ball. He went up to me and tugged at my right hand. I looked at him but could not understand what he wanted me for. So I told him, “Baby, wait, just a few more stitches.” He waited a bit and tugged me again. I said the same thing again. A few minutes later, I saw him run to the bathroom. I dropped everything and ran after him. Then he stopped in front of the toilet, reached inside his diaper, grabbed a big round poo, dropped it inside the toilet and flushed it down the drain! Then he held out his grubby hand to me with a huge grin, as if to say “See, Mama? Now, wash me!” Well, you guessed right that I learned from that lesson very well.🙂
I stopped stitching in 2009, after the trouble with my neck started. I couldn’t stand bending my neck for hours then. My arms and hands felt thick and even clumsier than usual. I packed away all my stitching books and supplies, a little sorrowful at the end of such a long relationship.
Recently, however, I rediscovered my stitching bug. And it all started with this wonderful picture by my friend Pornphan from her page called Sylvanian Corner:
I kept thinking, “What if I tried my hand on those pillows? Can I do it?” I wasn’t even convinced I could do it again, not after almost three years of a stitchless existence. But then, as it often happens to me, the universe sends me the answer another way. On the same day I found Pornphan’s picture, I discovered one of my friends (Hi, Sandee!) was into cross stitching too when she posted a picture of her weekend project. One comment led to another and soon after, she invited me into a Facebook group of Filipino cross stitchers (Hi, Margaret! Hi, Mamila! Hi, Michelle!).
So now I am rediscovering my old love for cross stitching. In the frenzy of finding a new community with a similar passion, I went to straight to work and unearthed my old floss box, my dowels and stands, my old patterns, books, and magazines.
After that, I organized a new box for my supplies, pink and Kittified, of course.
And then I went back to digging some more. Inside the storage box of supplies, I also found some finished, but unframed, projects. Who knew I could stitch? They bring back so many memories- and they all make me smile, of course.
I love the Hummel patterns and I collected quite a lot of the patterns in booklets. My father-in-law (who is based in New York) never forgot to send me one or two when he spotted them.
I love Japanese ladies and I like stitching patterns that go well with my house’s Oriental interiors.
These Chinese vases deserve a spot on my wall!
In the process of reconnecting with my stitching past, I also discovered a couple of WIP (Works-in-progress) that have shamefully lain dormant for years (they smell funky too, boohoo!). No excuses, there, I’m afraid. Bad Kittymama!
I haven’t touched a needle in ages before this last month and when I look at the projects that my new friends display on the community wall, sometimes, even my normally unflappable self feels a little daunted. Still, I am not giving up hope that someday, I will find my stitching mojo again, the one that kept me going through all those years. Cross my stitchy fingers! In the meantime, I console myself with the thought that once in the past- and hopefully again in the future- these fat, stubby, clumsy fingers created something beautiful out of pieces of thread and a cloth with holes.🙂
Cross (Stitch) My Heart! I made this!
A project for my mother which, to this day, hangs in her room.