You Never Stop Learning How To Cross Stitch

This post was originally in XStitch Magazine Issue 8: The Munchies, and has been adapted.
I don’t know many people that don’t love food. You might be the type to crave a Thai, to devour a roast, or even to suck a boiled sweet. I have no doubt that reading this mag you’re already thinking about food, and that has its evolutionary advantages, but also comes with disadvantages in the age of plenty. However whatever you’re thinking about; does it ever live up to the hype in your mind? Is it always that perfect plate you’re after? And when you cook it yourself, is it better, or a little disappointing, however proud you are of it?

3D donut cross stitch by NickelAndGraceStudio (source: Etsy)
3D donut cross stitch by NickelAndGraceStudio (source: Etsy)

You don’t have to be Wolfgang Puck to cook a meal. You don’t have to be Mary Berry to bake a cake. We’re all capable of cooking a meal, even if that means chucking something in the microwave…
The key is following the recipe. A simple stab it and nuke it for 5 minutes, or a 30-page list packed full of buzzwords and new techniques for a sophisticated dish, so long as you take it step-by-step, you can achieve it.
A recipe allows a relative novice to make anything by buying the right ingredients, preparing them in a set way, measuring the quantities, and then following the discipline of times, heats and application by having the right equipment to hand. Following the process precisely results in raw materials turning into an Insta-worthy plate to be proud of.
The same principle can be applied to any task where components are obtained and instructions are followed; millions of us are now quite proficient at building flat-pack furniture from IKEA or applying makeup thanks to YouTube tutorials. Cross stitch follows the same procedure, assemble the parts and equipment, and following a pattern. The result is a piece of art.
Cross stitch methods, component structures, patterns, and processes can change in a similar way to the preparation of food. You can railroad, use metallic threads, the dreaded French knot. Over time, and with more practice, the amateur can apply the more skilled techniques. With time, experience, and a little trial and error, we can all become quite proficient. A home cook can get to a point where eating at home is as good as many restaurants.
Cherry Blossom Cross Ctitch by Peakcock & Fig (source:
Cherry Blossom Cross Ctitch by Peakcock & Fig (source:

And in a similar vein, any hobby or skill that follows the same methodology of following a pattern, whether that is bought or self-designed, enables a novice to quickly produce a quality end result. Cross stitch is your skill of choice and much like different cutlery tastes, cross stitch has a massive breadth of applications and themes it is pre-disposed to.
But a time comes when every home cook has to step away from the recipes, be that a massive step like becoming a full-time chef or just trying a cookie with your own flavor combinations. And so at some point, you must step away from cross stitch patterns. This step is the hardest one in cross stitch.
I’ve spoken about changing patterns, adding parts, taking away, or just stitching parts. It’s this process that turns you from a person learning a skill to someone using a skill. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t still learning.
The first project you might chop and change might fail. But that’s OK. You have to learn to stick to what you can get away with at first. It might be changing a skin color in a pattern, or changing the text on a sampler, but you’re still a chef, you’re still doing your own thing.
I’ve had a large number of people contact me in the past about setting up a shop, or designing their own patterns, or just how to do edits. I’m happy to answer any email I get, but these emails all say the same thing; I’m not sure how to let go.
Patterns and recipes are things we can cling to, things that protect us from getting it wrong. When it comes to cooking you can chuck those burnt cookies away, or not snap a shot for your social feed. But with cross stitch, it feels different. You put so many hours into a piece that it feels like you’ve wasted your time, like you walked out into the world, only to see it was terrible.
Cross Stitch Pattern on Squared Paper by vmstack (Source: Instagram)
Cross Stitch Pattern on Squared Paper by vmstack (Source: Instagram)

That’s the thing about taking risks and doing your own thing. It’s scary. But it’s also worth doing.
I’ve never been 100% happy with any pattern I’ve created. Not one. But I put it up on my social feed anyway. I show it off. I put it out into the world expecting people to laugh at it. But they don’t. They don’t because the cross stitch community is a nice one, but they also do it because cross stitch, whatever it looks like, is art.
You can’t have a bad piece of art. You can’t make a bad cross stitch. You can be stitching fairies or cats, and I might not be interested in the subject matter, but any pattern is one that shows the artist off. It might not have worked the way you wanted, but it opened the world into the way you think, the way you stitch, and that, is what matters.
I don’t mind if you come away from this wanting to stitch your own patterns or try a pattern edit. I don’t mind if you ignore almost everything I say, but I want you to know, that you can stitch anything, anyway, and it’ll always be great. So next time you see a failure, accept it, embrace it, and show it off. You’ll see that it wasn’t a failure at all.
Happy stitching!
Lord Libidan

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Susan B Farmer

    Sing it LOUD!! This needs to be said loudly and often!!