My First Cross Stitch

I know I mused about this a couple of blog posts ago: “have I shared the story of how I began to cross stitch?” I don’t think I have, so it’s as good of time as any to do so today.

Some years ago, I entered a contest (I didn’t win anything) where you had to write a “stitching story or experience” with a strict word limit. I chose to share this story, and, well, since I already have it written, why not just share it here with all of you?:


(this picture is at an angle because of the glare on the glass)

I was 15 and fate brought the magazine to my family’s mailbox.  Cross Stitch & Country Crafts was the title and it was a sampler issue, sent to encourage a subscription.  At that time, and to this day, I have no idea how my name (MY name, not my mom’s, not a generic “to whom it may concern) got on this mailing list.  No one in my family was a stitcher.  

This was sent to me as a “Sample Issue.” I have come to learn that this little girl was featured in a regular issue of the magazine.

This magazine had the most enchanting image I had ever seen – a little girl, having a tea party with her dolls.  I could not believe that such detail could be created with thread.  I was enthralled and, despite my very limited experience with cross stitch, decided I wanted to create this.  

Some time later, I was able to get my mom to drive me to the craft store, where at least I knew enough to recognize that the numbers on the chart’s key represented colors of DMC floss.  The idea that I was picking out nearly 50 different colors to use was unbelievable.  My mom saw the pile of threads growing as I sat there on the floor of the store and gave a look.  I knew how to interpret that look.  I can so clearly remember responding, “Mom, I’m using my babysitting money to pay for this.  I not asking you for the money.”  Her response back?  “I don’t know why.  You are never going to finish that.”

In all fairness, her comment was reasonable.  I think I did have, at that time, the reputation in my family of not necessarily finishing some of the projects I started.  Or being rather enthusiastic about a particular toy or particular project that I begged a parent to buy only to abandon both the project and enthusiasm in a short time.  Something about this was different, though.

I stitched her. Finished her. Framed her (professional framing paid with my own babysitting money).

That little girl lived in my mind and my heart and my hands for months. Twenty-five years later, she still hangs on my wall.  My needlework passions have stretched in many directions beyond cross stitch, but that little girl in the blue dress was clearly my beginning.  To this day, when I encounter certain DMC floss colors, I know where I first learned them:  926 and 927 on her dress, 676 and 677 and others in her hair, the 758 that I had to restitch three times in her arm…I could go on.  

So much of my personal stitching history hangs on my walls. This little girl is a piece of that.

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