Monday, April 4, 2016

Cussy Cross Stitch

I'm participating in the Blogging from A-Z Challenge again this year. Today's post is brought to you by the letter C.


When I was 15 or 16 years old and going through a particularly hard time in my life, I was introduced to cross stitch.  I was living in Arkansas back then, and one of my many tries to escape an abusive home life had been thwarted.  As a compromise, my Grandpa Rogers and his wife, Lois, had agreed to let me stay with them until me, my Mom, and step dad could "work things out".  I was struggling with a lot of anxiety and suicidal thoughts and though I can't say exactly, I imagine I wasn't the most fun person to be around.  

I don't remember how she approached me or if there was a specific incident that prompted it, but one afternoon my Grandma Lois asked if I was interested in learning to cross stitch.  She had taught some of her other Granddaughters and they enjoyed it, so she thought I might want to learn, too.  When I agreed, she handed me a cross stitch kit that included a stamped pillow case.  Again, the details of that day are fuzzy because it was 2 full decades ago, but I do know I was hooked right away.  Of course, as a teenage girl with a reputation at stake, I didn't dare share this new-found love with anyone my own age!

First I finished the one pillow case, then moved on to a set: a his and hers pillow case combo that I wanted to put into my hope chest.  By the time I started that set, I was living at home again.  Thankfully stitching is a cheap hobby so it wasn't difficult to convince my parents to buy me supplies and kits.  After finishing a couple stamped projects, I decided to try out counted cross stitch.  I began with tiny kits that included a little square of Aida cloth and pre-cut floss and a pattern.  Once comfortable with that, I started bigger projects.  Nothing very detailed, but I tried to find things that would require me to learn new stitches (french knots, back stitch, etc.).  

I made this little gem for the Bloggess, Jenny Lawson
and gave it to her when she was on tour with her 1st book.
Stitching provided an outlet for me, although the projects I did were super cheesy.  Back then, I had no clue how to create a pattern of my own, and there sure as hell wasn't Etsy or Pinterest, or any of the other wonderful resources that we have now.  The idea of a pattern that had anything other than lighthouses, cats, or baby footprints was unheard of. 

In the past 3 or 4 years, I have openly admitted to having this old lady hobby and discovered sites that offer the most amazingly hilarious, cool, nerdy, perverse patterns ever! I've graduated from kits to simply buying pdf patterns online.  I maintain a decent supply of DMC floss and Aida cloth in a several different shades/colors.  I have found some little tricks to make it easier and more enjoyable.  I'm no fancy-dancy embroidery expert at all, but with each completed pattern, I find my work less becomes sloppy, among other improvements. 
I made this for my besty's wedding gift

Stitching is my biggest anxiety reliever.  The simple act of stitching, of seeing a project come together, and actually finishing something makes me feel calm and accomplished.  Since there's not a house big enough for me to keep every project I complete, I started making a list of projects to gift to friends.  Sometimes I find a pattern that reminds me of someone, sometimes they find one they want me to do for them.  With each name ticked off my list, I add 2 more in it's place. The only time I have charged for my stitching was right before Trin and I went to Arkansas.  I sold 3 cross stitch projects for $10 each to help raise money for our trip.  Otherwise, I don't sell what I make.  

While cross stitch continues to gains popularity, as does the general public's acceptance of profanity, a whole new market has been created: cussy cross stitch.  There are patterns that contain beautiful hand stitch flowers or hearts, and the word "fuck" in the most gorgeous fonts you've ever seen.  All across the far reaches of the internet, people are making and selling patterns like this and they're almost always in pdf format and cost between $1-$10 each.  There are even several websites that offer free patterns. With the cost of floss and Aida or fabric being so low, it's a hobby that even a white trash, poor piece of crap like me can afford.  
This was the first project I sold for profit. It was part of
my fundraising efforts for our trip to Arkansas.

While I haven't stitched a whole lot of cussy patterns, I have found some really awesome ones that I would love to try out at some point.  I have even kicked around the idea of making my own patterns, stitching them, and selling the projects on Etsy.  Several factors keep me from pursuing that little pipe dream of mine.  For now, I'm more than happy to work on my list of gifts, ticking names off, adding new ones, and gaining knowledge and some small level of expertise in the ways of cussy cross stitch.


  1. "Old Lady Hobbies" ... well, you know, it's all about a tradition that has existed for so long. Maybe not the coolest pursuit for a teenager, but certainly, when you find something you love to do, and it brings you a sense of peace and safety, and calm, a creative and healthy outlet to just breathe, then you learn to hold on to that. And clearly, times are changing .... so enjoy and happy stitching!

    1. I figure by doing patterns that are less old lady, it balances out the old lady hobby. *lol* Thanks for reading!



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