I can stitch that

Having secured a large, noisy, and dirty creative hobby for outdoors I eventually decided that I needed a small, quiet, and clean creative hobby for indoors. I wanted it to be something which I could do in front of the TV with others around, so writing and guitar playing were off the table. I thought about painting, but that’s not clean. I thought about drawing, but I’d have to spend time learning actual technique and I didn’t want to take that on. I’ve wanted to learn to sew since I’ve been with DeLyle, but again, it’s noisy and hard to do in front of the television. Knitting or crocheting were on the table, but DeLyle likes to crochet and I wanted something that was more of my own. After spending a week or so thinking about this the one activity I landed on again took me back to a parent’s hobby from the 1980’s, my mother’s counted cross stitching.

small cross stitch project featuring a flamingo standing on one leg in shallow water
Cross Stitch Project #1, Flamingo

I had a familiarity with the craft from her, of course, and one or two attempts as a child to do some myself. At the time, I had not the attention span to finish a project or the cultural confidence as a boy to do something I had only known girls to do. It was the 80’s in middle America where toxic masculinity was a cultural touchstone (and, frankly, it still is there). Even assurances that, “Rosey Grier did needlepoint,” weren’t going to help me because (a) his name was “Rosey,” a bit queer if you were to ask 8 year-old me, and (b) I didn’t really know who Rosey Grier was. Some old football player from the 1970’s? Might as well have been from the 1870’s for as far as I knew or cared. And it was the 80’s. The internet existed only in DARPA experiments and for high level academic and military research. We knew nothing of such things in our sleepy little Missouri hamlet, so finding evidence of men doing needle crafts, designing and making cool pictures with thread wasn’t something available to me. Furthermore, the only access to patterns were whatever my mom had around the house and whatever the local sewing store had on the shelf. Lots of country style anachronistic designs or flowers or something. None of it was going to appeal to a young boy with masculinity issues.

Tolkien inspired cross stitch which reads, "The Road Goes Ever On..."
Cross Stitch Project #11, The Road Goes Ever On…

Luckily, it was now 2020 and not only did the internet exist, but so did Etsy. There, I saw all kinds of fun patterns available to purchase, many of which related to my favorite cultural touchstones; specifically, certain Sci-Fi and fantasy franchises. I started small with three kits purchased at the craft store. From there, I started purchasing patterns from Etsy and bought a program to design my own. Now the ball was rolling and it hasn’t stopped since. I’ve completed something like 18 projects and currently have three more in the queue. This is what I do when there’s something on the TV that I’m not that interested in, or when I don’t want the TV on at all. I can do it alone or with others; in quiet or with music playing. In bed or in the living room. I’ve taken it camping, and I’ll be taking it to Missouri in February.

TARDIS with the message "A Traveler of Both Time and Space."
Cross Stitch Project #3, TARDIS. My first original design. It marries my love for Doctor Who and Led Zeppelin all in one.

With both woodworking and cross stitching you can see my need for progressive activity. In both I get to design and build craftworks, and sometimes even artworks. I get the type of mental and emotional satisfaction that I need, and I don’t need a profession to provide for me. Since I lost my last library job I’ve been working throwing stock at a liquor store. I get paid very little and my work, while useful, has no great social import. I don’t need my job to provide me with a sense of purpose. I am able to provide that myself with my hobbies. Now, my biggest need is a job that pays enough that I can keep my house should something happen to DeLyle. That’s the material need, but the emotional need? I’ve got that covered.

You can see our finished needlecraft projects, as well as our woodworking projects in our gallery.

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