The Time Cross Stitch ALMOST Made It To Space

xstitch magazine issue 3 cover
A few of you may know that I make patterns for the XStitch Magazine, however starting with issue 3, I also write a piece for each edition in an article entitled “Libidan’s Lectures!”. For the space themed first lecture I explored the relationship space has with art, and the various (and frankly numerus) art instalations held in space. However, during my research I kept coming back to a single question:

Has cross stitch ever flown to space?

Well, the answer was a resounding no. BUT sewing and embroidery has.
Astronauts are a superstitious bunch, peeing on bus wheels, eating peanuts and watching Russian movies aside, they have one tradition of note. During take off, especially in the Soyuz spacecraft, astronauts look directly up, with everything strapped down to avoid it floating once they reach space. However, if that’s the case, how to you know when zero gravity starts? In comes the cuddly toy!

r2d2 in space soyuz launch credit starspace (source: StarSpace)
r2d2 in space soyuz launch credit starspace (source: StarSpace)
Russian cosmonaut Alexandr Samokutyae with his zero gravity toy (source: StarSpace)
Russian cosmonaut Alexandr Samokutyae with his zero gravity toy (source: StarSpace)

In order to show when you’re in space, you dangle a cuddly toy from the control panel. Now, these are genuine tools used in space, dont be confused with their cuddly exterior. Whilst they used to be plastic pens, as time progressed astronauts let their imaginations go wild and picked a whole series of things to travel with. Many include sewing and embroidery in a series of styles. I looked through hundreds (I’m not joking) of toys to see if any had cross stitch. Nope.
 
In addition to toys flown from Earth though, there is one other interesting example worth exploring.
NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg's stuffed toy dinosaur floats on the International Space Station (source: NASA)
NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg’s stuffed toy dinosaur floats on the International Space Station (source: NASA)
In 2013, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg brought to space an idea; to craft. Using tools found around the International Space Station Karen created a small stuffed dinosaur to bring back to her son on Earth. Now, this isn’t the greatest sewing on earth, however lets just think about something for a minute. There are no needles in space. There are no scissors in space. There are no threads in space. Karen managed to make her tools while she was up there too. Now that, is impressive.

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