A Kid Among History
There was a poll posted in one of my Facebook cross-stitch groups last week. The question was, how old is everyone? There were some options – 30 through 40, 45 and up – and then people began adding their own. “Old enough” one option said; “retired with free time” said another. The majority was split between two groups – most were in their late 30s or early 40s, and then 55 and up. There were hundreds of comments discussing ages, when they started stitching, how much they stitch now, and more.
Out of a group of more than one thousand people, with hundreds of voters and comments, I was one of three people in the “20 and under” category.
I was introduced into cross-stitching by my mother and grandmother when I was eight years old, which was eleven years ago. I’m now nineteen. And prior to discovering that the Internet held groups for people who stitched, I was the only kid who cross-stitched. I never knew anyone my age who stitched. Most of them didn’t even know what that was. The ones who did knew it because it was something a grandmother or an aunt worked on and they had been given gifts.
Maybe my lack of fellow stitchers had something to do with the fact that my class didn’t have a Home Economics course in school; we were a transitional class, the old Home Ec. teacher having retired the year before, and the teacher that replaced her turned the class into an experimental “Life and Mathematical Sciences” class, where we made food once every two weeks and did math worksheets every other day. The sewing and “life skills” had been cut out completely. To this day I have a sewing machine sitting in my closet that I don’t know how to use. That class was such a let-down.
Counted cross-stitch is most often associated with “being old.” It’s something a grandmother does in her free time as she knits hats and sweaters and plucks away at her sewing machine. It’s reflected in samplers hung in frames on a wall from a long-dead relative and the bookmarks and pillows and holiday ornaments strewn throughout the house. I once rescued a gorgeous framed Paula Vaughan piece from being thrown away. It’s used in marketing and graphic design to bring up memories of home and “days gone by” – a cookbook I bought from a local festival had cross-stitch art as its cover design for “the best homemade recipes.”
Cross-stitch reflects back to the days when girls learned needlework in school and covered samplers and clothing and anything else with their own designs because that was how a girl demonstrated her sewing skills. She would have to make her own clothes and it was how she added detail to an otherwise plain design. (If you ever have the fortune to visit Ellis Island in New York, a lot of the cloth in the exhibits are covered in cross stitch.)
People may consider cross-stitching a “grandmother’s hobby,” but that just isn’t the case. Everyone has to start somewhere, and, like me, the majority of the group said they had been stitching since they were young children. I just happen to be a kid among history, one of the youngest to enter into the age-old craft. And at least among a group of one thousand there were two others like me. I’ve been stitching for eleven years but I’m still more than 30 years younger than the rest of the group! Where are all the other kids? Where is the rest of my generation, the ones who learned from their grandmothers and sit at home and stitch in their free time?
Maybe I am the only one. I certainly feel like I am at times.
“Random Corner” is a place for all articles related to all manners of cross-stitchery and the cross-stitch community that don’t fall into the topics covered in the regular segments. There is no set schedule for Random Corner articles, they’re just random!
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