cross stitch may be just the thing for you. Learning to sew a cross in fabric that already has neat squares formed in it is as easy as pie. Plus there's the advantage of being able to make something beautiful, whether simple and bright or a more complex design and having the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself! Even if you're an experienced embroiderer, cross stitch offers a wonderful world to explore.
I grew up with a female family tradition of handicrafts. There were embroidery cottons in rainbow colours, delicate crocheted edges to towels (for best of course) and some delicate heirloom pieces which my mother still uses. I learned to set a satin stitch at an early age and got taught to knit (a skill I've since forgotten). Try as she might, my mother tried to teach me to sew my own clothes but it was the less useful side of sewing that always drew me.
As a teenager I learned tapestry stitching and spent hours engrossed while half listening to TV. Then one day in a craft store I saw gorgeous cross stitch pictures on the wall . It hooked me - easy to make if I could sew a cross and count my stitches. There was an infinite variety of designs to tempt, from the small and simple to the large and intricate. Here's my first cross stitch piece - I love samplers as they make an impact but you don't have to embroider the whole cloth. This one has an Australian bird, animal or flower for each letter and I fell in love with the lazy koala sprawled in the centre.
Since then there have been larger projects like this Noah's Ark - lots of fun for an expectant mother to work on, as well as a range of smaller projects that make me smile, either because they're light-hearted and cheeky (I have a dragon devouring chocolate that's waiting for me to stitch him) or because of the reaction of people who receive those pieces.
Cross stitching is marvellously relaxing too. I can concentrate on my work and have a chat or listen to music and there's plenty of time to ponder. I think the repetitive movements are particularly soothing when life gets a bit too frantic. But if you want to be challenged there's always the option of designing your own cross stitch project. I was daunted at first, but with graph paper and patience it's not too difficult. If I can do it anyone can!
In the last few years, especially as I focus on a computer screen so much for my writing, I've had less time for other activities and my sewing has stopped. Look at this project - so close to completion and I haven't touched it in ages. The nice thing about writing this blog is that I'm determined to make time for the pleasure of cross stitch, even if only a little each week.
Have you tried cross stitch or some other sort of decorative sewing? Do you have a favorite project you've always wanted to try?
Annie's current heroine, Tamsin, has never tried embroidery, she's been too busy learning old languages and the care of ancient books. You'd think she'd have plenty of time on her hands now she's living in a picturesque alpine kingdom where roads get blocked by snow in winter. However, I suspect that her handsome prince, Alaric, may have other plans for her spare time. Their story, PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE, is a Presents Extra release in early February. You can read an excerpt or enter a contest to win it on Annie's website. Or if you don't want to leave it to chance, you can buy a copy from Harlequin, The Book Depository or Amazon.