Not your grandma’s needlework

When I was in the seventh grade, I bought a cross stitch project because 1) it was of Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, and 2) it was on clearance. My mom saw that the project was as big as a piece of computer paper and she figured I would never complete it.

I finished all except the backstitching because my 13-year-old self was frightened of the monstrous backstitch (note to beginners: it’s really not that bad). Because backstitching is primarily used to outline designs, Winnie and his friends looked like a big blob. Still, I was impressed that I was able to pull it off as well as I had, considering I had no experience cross stitching.

Here’s a picture of what my first cross stitch was SUPPOSED to look like, with outlines and without the creases from my cross stitch hoop.

I rediscovered cross stitch a decade later thanks to Pinterest. It was a completely different kind of cross stitch from traditional styles. Instead of images of intricate borders, flowers or variations of the “Home Sweet Home” theme, I found geometric animals stitched with a rainbow of colors, witty sayings (such as the Mean Girls quote, “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool Mom”) and even Pokémon.

I fell in love with these designs so much that I saved the image of a funny cat quote, copied the pattern onto graphing paper and bought what I needed to make the design. Since then, I’ve created several cute cross stitches and all of my social media friends LOVE them.

Here’s one of my latest projects, Catcus, found on Pinterest by Ringcat.

However, Pinterest definitely has its downsides. Usually you pay a fee for the PDF of the pattern and sometimes you’re stuck with broken links. There are definitely some cute projects I find that are worth crossing my eyes to copy the design, but this isn’t a good way to get started with cross stitch.

So, I want you to learn from my mistakes. That’s where your lovely library comes in!

In our Arts and Crafts neighborhood, we have a good selection of cross stitch books and an even better selection of embroidery books. These books feature traditional and contemporary styles for crafters ranging from beginner to experienced levels. Check out this list of my favorite library titles that follow the trend of contemporary cross stitch and embroidery. My personal favorite is Cross Stitch to Calm by Leah Lintz.


View complete list

Here are the reasons these books can be even better than the internet:

  1. Easy instructions with detailed pictures of different stitches
  2. Easy to read pattern grids
  3. The numbers and names of the thread used are always provided, but feel free to tweak the colors (or design)
  4. Optional instructions for crafters who want to go above and beyond (like adding your design to a smock!)

From traditional to contemporary, we have needlework books for you!

Also, don’t forget about our arts and crafts kits. Our cross stitch kit includes alphabet patterns so you can design your own cute or snarky sayings.

Now that you know about beautiful world of needlework, what designs will you create?

Anna Frantz is a library associate who works with the arts and crafts neighborhood and the 2Book Topeka community read.