Cross Stitch: Elder Futhark Patterns

Cross-stitch was one of my first hobbies.  I’ve never gotten into crochet and knitting (I could never get my stitches tight enough), and sewing came much later.  I enjoyed picking out new skeins of thread (back when one could buy four for a dollar at the local Pamida).  They were little brightly colored threads of potential.  Winding them on little cardboard bobbins was incredibly soothing.  The limited number of stitches and the structure of the Aida cloth were less intimidating to me than freehand embroidery (I could never get my stitches even enough to look right).

At some point I stopped stitching.  I got busy with the sewing, and then the publishing, and then the stress of just getting through the day.  Sitting down and working on something just for myself seemed indulgent and irresponsible.  The boxes of thread, the Aida cloth and cross-stitch books got pushed to the back of shelves to make room for bolts of cloth and serger thread and depression.

Design cross-stitched on linen, turned into a pouch to hold items and hang over the door.

In November, as we reorganized the garage into a workshop, I found all of my cross-stitch supplies.  They were dusty and wrinkled, but no worse for wear.  I sat down one evening with some linen and waste canvas and my Celtic Cross Stitch book by Gail Lawther.  I had an idea to create something I could hang over the front door, a pouch I could fill with herbs, stones, medallions, whatever represented to me safety and love and protection.  I have an affinity for Hestia, who is often represented by a circle, and Stephan has a strong connection to his Celtic roots.  I picked a design that was circular and got to work.

The actual stitching took a week or so, working in the evening.  The whole time I had to remind myself that it was okay to take this time for myself.   And as the pattern emerged, as I looked from design to fabric and back again, as my hands worked, I stitched pieces of myself back together.  Those parts of me that had been torn away because I felt I didn’t have the right to self-care were reattached with careful rows of Xs.  Breathe, I told myself.  This is okay.  You get to do something solely for the joy of it.

And it worked.  It was soothing to concentrate on the rhythm of the needle going in and out of the fabric.  I had to give all my attention to keeping the thread from tangling, to the number of stitches, to the tautness of the fabric.  There was no room for other concerns.  I made sure to tell Stephan several times how much I was enjoying this one simple act, to reinforce the good feelings.

Hecate’s Wheel cross-stitched on my bag in green and red. Design from http://crossstitch.about.com/od/freecrossstitchpattern1/ig/Wiccan—Pagan-Symbols/Hecate-s-Wheel-Pattern-Chart.htm

After the pouch, I embellished my bag with a design of Hecate’s Wheel.  I started having issues with leaving the house last year.   Not so much agoraphobia, as anxiety about being around people.  I thought that carrying a reminder of Hecate, a goddess that I associate with strength and protection, would help with my feelings.  I am taking medication and am in therapy, both have helped with this particular issue (among others), and I think that the cross-stitch has aided in my healing.

Me being me, though, I started playing around with the idea of creating my own cross-stitch patterns.  I’m also working on another book with Stephan, and I am looking to incorporate the cross-stitch into that.  To those ends, I pulled out some graph paper and started with a topic that seemed easy enough: the Elder Futhark.  The runes are all lines, with definite proportions.  I wanted to design something that could be repurposed for various projects, and thought of all the alphabet samplers that one finds in various cross-stitch project books.  I researched various viking design elements for the borders.  The actual drafting took several weeks of graph work and then stitching out the designs to see how they looked.  In the end I drafted two samplers, both on the small side so that they can be completed in a single sitting.

The first design you can see above, the runes are four stitches high by one or two stitches wide (depending on the rune).  The finished design is approximately 2 1/4″ tall by 3 1/4″ wide on 14 count Aida cloth.  It has been worked with two threads: the runes in red and the border in red and black.

The second design (below) is even smaller, the runes two stitches high and one or two stitches wide (again depending on the rune).  The finished design is approximately 1 1/8″ tall by 2 1/8″ wide on 14 count Aida cloth.  It has also been worked with two threads in the black and red colors.

Worked in two threads over 14 ct. white Aida cloth, this sampler features the Elder Futhark runes and a Viking inspired border design.

Both designs are done in back-stitch (making them less cross-stitch patterns, but that’s the term I’m going with).  The stitches include half and quarter stitches, so you have to work between the weave at some points.

I used the program KG-Chart LE to make the charts.  I will definitely be buying the program as it very easy to use and does exactly what I need it to do.  I highly recommend checking it out if you want to make your own patterns.  You can view the designs by clicking on the links below:

Elder Futhark Cross-stitch Sampler Large Pattern

Elder Futhark Cross-stitch Sampler Small Pattern


This post originally appeared on January 23, 2015.

Friday Craft Day: Spooky Cross Stitch

Spoooky Halloween Cross Stitch!

It’s Friday Craft Day! Help yourself to some Spooky cross stitch patterns to make over the weekend. I’ve got a mix of free and for sale patterns covering the Halloween aesthetic. So get your stitch on.

https://www.pinterest.com/idiorhythmic/halloween-cross-stitch/

Cross Stitch: SF Swear Words

I’m a word nerd and a science fiction geek.  I also love to swear.  Like, really fucking love to curse. My swearing is sometimes a problem (like when my children started dropping f-bombs as toddlers).  But mostly swearing offers me a release for frustration.  (Also, swearing has its benefits.)

Which is why I love science fictional swearing.  You get to express your anger in a way that won’t lead to judgmental looks from those around you.

This cross stitch sampler is my love letter to the swears used throughout fandom.  The pictured sampler was stitched on white 14 count Aida cloth using two strands of floss.  Download the free chart by clicking on the download button below, or clicking here.

A white arrow over a white rectangle, both centered on a bright green circle.
Click here to get the PDF chart.

If you get your stitch and bitch on, please post a picture in the comments.  I’d love to see how it turns out for you.


This post originally appeared October 2, 2017.

She’s Got It, Yeah, Baby, She’s Got It!

On the bullentin board behind me is a pin I bought years ago at a Worldcon.  It reads: “I have the body of a goddess—the Venus of Willendorf.”  A guy friend who was with me at the time said, “roach, you aren’t fat.”  While I appreciated his attempts to soothe what he saw as my mocking my body, he missed the point of why I wanted that pin.  I wanted it because I thought the wording was clever and I love the Venus of Willendorf.

I have several reproductions in stone and clay throughout the house.  I like how they feel in my hand when I hold them.  Of all the goddess images I’ve encountered, hers is the most pleasingly tactile to me.  When I started playing around with creating my own cross stitch designs, I knew I wanted to eventually make my own Venus to hang on the wall.

I will admit to being a little intimidated when I started out.  I don’t view myself as an artistic person.  I tell myself that I can’t draw, that my color sense is limited to a base functionality.  The rune designs I’ve done so far were easy-peasy in that they were just straight lines.  Here I was faced with curves and perspective and shading.  It felt like jumping from stick figures to Rembrandt.

The technical details weren’t the hardest part to overcome, though.  As I was creating the first design, I found myself constantly fighting the automatic inclination to slim her down.  I kept shaving down her curves, dechubbinating her thighs, giving her breast reduction surgery, one stitch at a time.  I found myself trying to figure out how to make her breasts even, how to round her face more.  A lifetime of living in a society that reduces women to cardboard cutouts was fighting to whittle this goddess image into a Bratz doll.

The process was difficult and halting.  Every time I caught myself making her less than she is, I had to go back and see if I had missed other instances.  She and I had talks about her rejecting the tyranny of symmetrical breasts.  I took to calling her “Boobs McGee” and referring to her “bodacious tatas” while I worked.  It was as much about ripping out all the ugly stitches of body shaming, as it was about creating a piece of embroidery to hang on my wall.

Venus hangs on the wall near the front door, now.  She is a constant reminder that bodies are meant to take up space, big and small.  She tells me to lead with my tits when I walk out of my house.   She informs me that I am an artist, just working on a different canvas.  And she passes on a message from Sheela na Gig, “Time to finish up my design.”

If you like the Venus of Willendorf design, you can buy a copy directly from me for $4.00 by clicking this link.  If you make it, please share pictures in the comments.


This article was originally posted May 19, 2015.