A Minor Obsession with Subversive Cross Stitch

A Minor Obsession with Subversive Cross Stitch

WARNING: language — but you probably knew that already, you smart cookie.

Last year I found myself pinning cross stitch and embroidery images.  Wildflowers and birds are a favorite, but it didn’t take long for me to discover subversive cross stitch.  I love them.  Their snark speaks to me!  But I’m not really a cross stitcher so I pinned without a plan (as if that’s something strange to do, hah!).

Then it was summer, my husband was gone on a business trip, and I had an impulse to just do it.  I had floss.  I had Aida.  I had needles.  (This is what happens when fiber arts are your jam!)  I printed out a free pattern and was off to the races.

Domestic Cross Stitch in progress

The beauty of it was hearing friends and family reminisce about stitching they’d done and how they’d like to do it again.  And cheers from my cross stitchers.

I Put the Mess in Domestic Cross Stitch

My tasteful, funny declaration worked out just fine!  Cross stitching went faster than I expected — and I anticipate that one could go even faster with experience.

Behold! The Cross Stitch Pattern to Rule Them All!

But this wasn’t really what I wanted to make.  I wanted to justify buying a pattern that I had been eyeing for months.  It wasn’t expensive, but as a knitter I know how slippery the pattern buying slope is and I wanted to make sure cross stitching wasn’t a hateful way to spend my craft time before I committed cash to a project.

Behold the Field cross stitch detail

This one took longer.  I made more mistakes.  But I stuck with it and eventually finished.

Behold the Field cross stitch

This piece speaks the secrets of my soul.  Now you know.

“Where Are You Going to Hang It?”

Many people who saw me working on it thought it was funny.  Several silently nodded and moved on.  People were really curious about what I was planning to do with it.  Were they worried I would give it to them?  Kudos to my sister-in-law Abby, who offered to own it if I didn’t want to keep it.  But no, this beauty is all for me!

Things I Learned Whilst Subversively Stitching

I learned that I don’t want to do larger pieces.

I learned that I love doing letters!

I learned that filling in shapes was boring.

I learned that I am not going to wake up one day and exchange all my yarn for floss.  But I might indulge in a little X-X once or twice a year.

Have you done any subversive stitching?  Got your eye on any patterns?

A Minor Obsession with Subversive Cross Stitch

They put me in charge

Close up of handspun BFL yarn

Close up of handspun BFL yarnHandspinners of the world, I have good news!

Spinzilla sign-ups start today and I am a team captain.  For $10 you can join Team Happy Fuzzy Yarn Spinners and have a jolly good time with yours truly.

For the record, you can also spend $10 to join another team or, ye gads, go alone.  I will still talk to you, but our relationship may never be the same.

You don’t have to be a “good” spinner.  Wheel or charka or drop spindle or tahkli are all welcome.  This is a judgement-free zone and, in fact, this is a great time to learn from others — whether you are just getting started or (like me) trying to kick it up a notch.

Although this is technically a friendly competition to get the most yardage, we are in it for the laughs and the excuse to spend an inordinate amount of time making yarn for one week.  (Hellllo, stash busting!)


I think there should be team prizes, don’t you?

Everyone Loves Fingerless Mitts

Photo of handknit fingerless mitts
There’s been a craze ‘round these parts.  Young and old alike, male and female, everyone’s gotta have a pair of fingerless mitts.
It started with the Pageturner Mitts, which was barely a pattern, but gave me a jumping off point. I had a lone and lovely skein of Noro Silk Garden, aching to be knit. I enjoy wearing my fingerless mitts in my chilly basement office:
Photo of Noro fingerless mitts
Then I made a pair in teal blue as a gift:
Photo of handknit teal fingerless mitts
My daughter, fashionista that she is, immediately demanded a pair.  In pumpkin orange:
Photo of orange fingerless mitts
My mom wanted cranberry red (modeled by Matt):
Photo of red fingerless mitts
At the same time I was making my mom’s pair, I was also designing the Fabulous Fingerless Mitts as a free pattern for Happy Fuzzy Yarn (I also did the photography). They use one skein of DK Silk yarn.  Special consideration was taken to not only use the entire skein — no more, no less — but also to knit them at a tighter gauge because silk does not have the bounce back that wool does:
Photo of handknit silk fingerless mitts
Matt needed a pair of fingerless mitts too.  He loves warm accessories and has a desk in the basement office too, which he was using daily last fall and winter.  Somehow I don’t have finished picture of these, but I used a beautiful sea blue-green-grey color of Shepherd’s wool left over from making myself a sweater.  I should get a picture of them now because it’s great — he has worn them a lot and it shows. The only thing better than knitting for loved ones is having them use and use and use your handknit gifts.
My neighbor Amy wanted a neutral-colored pair of fingerless mitts.  For these I bust out a deep stash ball of Rowan DK Tweed in grey that I bought at a tiny wool shop in York, England.  I love the nubby texture of these:
Photo of grey handknit fingerless mitts
Meanwhile, Ellie gave her orange mitts (which were really too big) to her brother, and asked me to make her another pair, one blue and one lime green. I think they represent sky and earth:
Photo of handknit fingerless mitts
(No, I didn’t ask her to pose like this.  Yes, she is a ham.)
All the random single skeins in my stash suddenly have definite purpose.  But still I bought this beauty — DK Silk in Granite — and have plans to make myself another pair of Fabulous Fingerless Mitts:
Happy Fuzzy Yarn DK Silk in "Granite"
Fingerless mitts are great for in-between weather, when it’s not hot or cold and a chill can creep up on you suddenly. They’re also a little punk, a little grunge, a little counter-culture.  Fun for kids, practical for adults. Quick to knit and a great way to use single skeins and leftovers.  What’s not to love?

When Your Space Heater Dies in May, Knit Up Some Fingerless Mitts

Photo of Noro fingerless mitts

Feels a little bit like I’m living in a Dickens novel, but I am stubborn enough to wait until fall when space heaters are available again at the corner hardware store.

Photo of a fingerless mitt

Meanwhile, in this cold spring, after working for an hour or two in my basement office, my hands ache from the cold.

It probably goes without saying, but taciturn I am not: it is really hard to take pictures of your own hands when one is using a cell phone.  Do I have a fancy camera that attaches to a tripod and has a timer?  Yes.  It is a DSLR hand-me-down (oh, but we paid for it) from my fancy brother.  I wish I knew how to use it better.  I also wish there were 25 hours in the day, but my tiny tyrant is home in an hour and I need to get this posted, pronto.

Photo of a fingerless mitt

I take breaks from grousing to admire my lovely Pageturner Mitts knit out of Noro Silk Garden.  The yarn was a random lone skein I had and lone skeins, especially those that are beautiful, are so hard to do something with.  Maybe that’s just me.  Now I want to make myself a pair of mitts for every day of the week.  The pattern is the classic and elegant, yet simple Pageturner Mitts by Sarah Jo Burch.  I cast on 40 stitches instead of 30 because I wanted some extra coverage.  I knit each block of garter 6.5″ before sewing up, which gives a nice amount of negative ease.

Pageturner Mitts would make a great quick gift if you use a beautiful yarn, like Noro Silk Garden, or something tonal or handpainted.

I finished these on Mother’s Day weekend and haven’t even worn them out of the house, but they are getting noticed.  My five-year-old thinks they’re the bees knees and keeps stealing them so I am making her a pair.  She is normally into pink, as our species demands of these young females, and when I pulled out pink yarn for her she said, “No, I want orange.”  Okay darling, I will make you orange ones.  And I am.

Matt laughed to see me wandering the house in May, wearing wooly-silky fingerless mitts and all I have to say to that is: polar vortex.  It is still happening, my friends, even if it is only in my mind.  It may not be snowing, but damn this weather continues to be weird.