[as tumblr has decided to remain, in the subtle terminology of my boyfriend, fucked, my reverb post is here again. back to normal programming in both locales when tumblr, quoting the boyfriend again, unfucks itself.]
"what was the last thing you made? what materials did you use? is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?"
i am no one's conception of a handywoman. i'd be the one who ends up with pictures all over the internet of the spectacularly improbable injury i'd somehow give myself, entertaining millions with my natural grace and giftedness. but surprisingly, i do have a couple of areas of handicraft in which i specialize. we've all been entertained with the ongoing saga of magnolia v. sewing machine for halloween. and while that was shockingly successful, that's not one of my strengths.
i do two things quite well when it comes to tangible works: i make food, and i cross-stitch. i've also regaled you with tales of marathon cooking spates on football sundays, embarking on culinary adventures to the dulcet tones of the greatest football broadcaster ever, scott hanson on NFL red zone. (i totally have a non-sexual crush on this guy. he's AMAZING.) but as for my needlework, well, that's a side of me you may not have seen coming.
when i was in seventh grade at a nondescript middle school in my gulf-coast hometown, we had what could charitably be called a dearth of electives available for us. there was a dearth of a lot of education in that place, though by god, they tried. there was a real "hey, kids, let's put on a middle school!" vibe around there. i started the year in a computer class with 25 students and ONE apple IIe. i was in seventh grade in 1992-93, at which point the IIe was nearly a decade old. clearly, this was not going to work. my only other option, however, was home arts. seriously? well, at least we get to cook, was my thought process. i like cookies, and this class did not disappoint.
our midterm project was a cross-stitched christmas ornament. she gave us a really simple pattern of a tree, and all we had to do was the actual cross-stitching. she did the back-stitch and knot stitches to finish. it took us two weeks, and i was stunned to find the process of preparing the thread, stretching the aida cloth and taking needle to canvas extremely... soothing, really. of all things, a lifelong hobby was launched at that moment. (i got an A- on the project; one of my rows was a little off. i also got a B on my final for that class; we sewed tote bags on sewing machines, and my seams weren't straight.)
so to this day, i tend to save time here and there for large-scale cross-stitch projects. i'm currently waiting for the end of the semester, so that i can finally, finally finish the huge one i started around this time last year. christmas break is a good time to sit on the couch, watch movies or sports, and stab a needle into cloth. not only do you get this really cool-looking piece of art when you're done, but there's a nice amount of stress relief in taking a sharp implement and plunging it into something over and over again. many cases of malicious wounding have been avoided by me using visualization techniques to transfer the urge to stab real people into stabbing cloth.
as everyone would, i'd love more time to sit and stitch for hours on end when i am so inclined. but that's not the kind of life i've chosen for myself. but that's what makes my favorite old-school hobby so much of a treat when i get to do it: it's a rare pleasure. and when i finish a piece, look at it and see all the work that went into it, i am proud as hell. no doubt about it. hell, yes. i made that. it's so, so damned satisfying. that's why making things is still something humans like to do, i guess; any source of validation in a tough, sometimes-crushing world is welcome, but when it's self-validation, it's about a hundred times better. and who couldn't use more of that?