How new does something have to be to be new? I have new-to-me sunglasses, but they aren’t new-new. The kids’ toys, which were new on Christmas morning, are having trouble being new to them now a week later. Some things are new on the shelf at the store, but have been there a long time. This thread has been in my stash for a while, waiting for me to turn it into a finished piece, a new pattern tempting me away from the ones I have in process. But though it’s sitting on the shelf, it’s still completely new, untouched. There’s nothing like a new pattern and a sheaf of thread skeins for me, the possibility, the excitement – with none of the tedious finishing details. I love picking out a pattern, going to the store, sifting through the colors to find the set I need, going home and organizing a project to start.
I wanted to take a picture of a new pattern, but I don’t think a screenshot of a pdf counts for a photo-a-day. And that’s how most of my patterns are these days – pdfs or jpegs of simple designs, downloaded from various sites. The fun thing about cross-stitch (one of the fun things, anyway) is that there are lots of small designs out there for free. DMC, Krenik, Brookes Books, Lizzie and Kate, Victoria Sampler; I have pulled freebies off of all their sites lately. I have a stash of designs that are saved to my computer to be stitched “when I have time.” A whole lot of the freebies are Christmas ornaments or Halloween designs – my interests just don’t lie with intricate designs and a lot of finishing work.
And of course, I have a stack of patterns that I have purchased – kits mostly, but some straight-up patterns. Some of those came with thread, and some of them I have already bought thread for, and some of them are still just paper in the binder. I’ve taken to scanning in my paper patterns and printing disposable copies to work with, rather than fighting with big unwieldy fold-outs. Etsy is an evil, evil place for a pattern lover – there are TONS of designs (and most of them are simple!) for just a few dollars each. I’ve held out against temptation for the most part; I haven’t purchased any yet. I’ve favorite-d a lot of them, and even saved off some of the simple whole-design images. I mean, where else am I going to get patterns for Dr. Who’s weeping angels (Don’t Blink!) or for Army of Darkness quotes (This is my BOOMSTICK!)?
One thing I face when I look at any pattern is: what am I going to do with this when it’s complete? The Christmas ornaments are pretty straightforward – they just get hung on the tree. Several of the designs on etsy are meant to be left in the hoop(s) and hung on the wall. But beyond that? I don’t do pillows or framed designs, and I feel weird finishing a design and leaving it rolled up in the closet. That doesn’t stop me from doing so, and I have a couple finished pieces that just live in my top dresser drawer. They are things I wanted to stitch, but now don’t fit my life (like my sorority crest). Cross-stitch isn’t a hobby that appeals to a mass audience, so it’s hard to find someone who would appreciate them as a gift or to sell them on ebay or etsy. I stitch these pieces because I enjoy the process, and it gives me something to do with my hands, and filling out all those little squares appeals deeply to my orderly engineer self.
Right now, I have 6 pieces in various stages of completion. One of those has been in process for over 10 years (yes, I am shamed). Another is a huge, intricate design that I probably won’t get to work on again until the kids are well into their school years. Toddlers and 100+ color patterns just don’t mix. Three of them are going to get completed this year – I refuse to let them continue to be UFOs (unfinished objects) any longer! The others – well, they might get worked on, they might get restarted, they might just continue to hang out and wait while other new lovelies capture my attention. That’s another fun thing about cross-stitch – you can let a design sit for years and years, and yet come right back to where you left off at any time. As long as you don’t lose your design or your color key, there’s nothing stopping you from starting, stopping, setting aside, pausing, or continuing at your own pace.