Cross stitch was my gateway craft. My mum used to stitch and I can still remember the first time she bought a kit for us. It must have been the Christmas holidays because it was a little kit for a poinsettia picture, framed inside a dark green card. She bought the kit, some extra fabric and cards and matched the threads from her little stash kept in a slightly warped Tupperware bacon box, and we all sat around the big table in my sister’s bedroom and started stitching. I was hooked from the start. It was like painting by numbers, only with fabric and thread, and from then on I would stitch kits and projects from the covers of magazines and then I started on bigger pictures, and finishing off some of Mum’s projects – the embroidered band that went around our Christmas cake and a picture of flowers falling into a pool she called “weeping hysteria”.
But as I grow older and spent more time commuting on trains, and rediscovered my love of knitting, cross stitch has rather fallen by the wayside; it’s not as easy to do on the train, and at home it’s harder to stitch, keep one eye on the kids and hope that they don’t run off with your pattern than it is to knit with one or both eyes up!
But I’ve not quite given up, and something really special can always tempt me away from the yarn.
Enter onto my screen the lovely Alicia Paulson’s spring pattern releases. I love the crochet animals, the lamb especially, and I’m sure that at some point in the not too distant future my little trio may end up with a bunny or a lamb, but it was the little Spring Ring that really called to me.
Beautiful colours, silky soft linen to stitch on, and a sheep; what’s not to like. So I ordered the kit and by the miracle of international shipping it winged its way a third of the way around the globe (ish) and plopped through my letter box.
Now this is not the first kit that I’ve ordered from Alicia. I have, in my stash, a kit to make a Miss Maggie Rabbit for each of my girls and two if not three of the Christmas ornament sets. It’s not that I don’t love them and want to make them, I do, I think they’re absolutely beautiful and I want to do them justice and make them perfect, and I know that when I’ve made them they will be gone. Does anyone else save things that they know they’re going to love making, or making with, because they don’t want them to be gone?
But the other day I watched the girls playing with a sheet of stickers I’d brought home for them. They were so excited to have them and they jumped straight in; making pictures and moving the stickers around and then sticking them on themselves and their teddies. And the stickers were gone, but they really didn’t care, they’d had so much fun playing with them. So when this little kit arrived I didn’t let it anywhere near the studio; I put it on a dresser shelf, and when the children were all happily playing something that didn’t require too much of my involvement I sat down in a patch of sunshine and started to sew.
An afternoon and a few evenings later, and here it is.
Entirely as the pattern states, right down to the pretty blue felt on the back.
I loved stitching it, as I knew I would, it felt like a real treat to be sitting down each evening to choose which colour to go for next, and I have rather neglected both the knitting and the quilting in its making.
But as every member of the household who can speak in sentences has made a bid for it to be theirs I think it might just have been worth it. And for the record, it’s mine, all mine, even if I haven’t quite worked out where to hang it.
And perhaps it will be an incentive to pull some of those other kits back out of the stash, because I don’t think I mind too much that it’s all gone, although I am very very much hoping that this might be the start of a series of rings and that Summer, Autumn and Winter might come to follow Spring (fingers crossed)