Cross-stitching with boys.

Recently, I discovered that the world retains many sexist boundaries which discriminate against men. Being a woman in a college town makes it hard to avoid the sexism encountered by females- but men and boys run into their own unfair brick walls. Because somewhere somene decided that cross-stitching is a female sport.

Even my mom, who became a female physician at a time when women only dared become nurses, almost rolled her eyes when I told her that Max was learning how to cross-stitch. “That’s not something boys do, Alina,” she declared. Max’s face turned a little red as he replied, “Actually, it IS something boys do because I’m a boy and I’m doing it.”

Since Max has trouble dealing with frustration and tends to get lost in worlds of his own making which he hasn’t yet learned how to share with others, he often complains about a sense of misplaced malaise. I can’t fix the world for him (I’ve certainly tried), but I can show him ways to cope with the things he can’t control. I can help him use his hands to create things which outlast his anger or annoyance. I can open the door to the secrets of crafting and creating- how it soothes the ruffled soul.

I also thought that our early explorations of geometry would dovetail nicely with a little cross-stitchery. Here’s how:

  • Creating design requires finding mean and median of squares
  • Addition and subtraction skills required to calculate symmetrical designs
  • Spatial awareness of a plane
  • How squares make up other geometric shapes
  • Familiarity and comfort with geometry and design

The other benefit is the patience and perserverance to set a goal and complete it- to find something you can do right when it feels like everything else you do goes wrong. We all need that “something”. It seems that Max loves cross-stitching (“it’s like the pixels in the old video games”) enough to crave it every evening and in the mornings as well. He is working on stitching designs for Christmas gifts- I will add them to ornaments or bookmarks or even frame the larger ones.

YOU WILL NEED

several strands of embroidery floss
large needle (we used a tapestry needle)
embroidery hoop
the free Anchor 1st KitPDF download
graph paper
pencil and erase
colored pencils

After Max drew a few hearts on graph paper and counted the squares, noting the distance between them vertically, he seemed ready to start stitching. I explained that he was going to work on a “sampler” with counted cross stitch, meaning that he would count the stitches on the graph and transfer that pattern to the fabric.

The steps from here are an indivual process- I outlined it in the free printable A Not-Big Person’s Guide to Cross-Stitching below.

A Not-Big Person’s Guide to Cross Stitching (PDF)

You can also print a lovely freebie from Yarn Tree that promises to teach cross-stitching in less than five minutes. I found the graph and pattern to be helpful in reinforcing Max’s burgeoning stitching skills. Other spaces with cross-stitchspiration for not-big stitchers include DLTK, Mochi Mochi Land, Vermillion Stitchery, and The Caron Collection. Now I’m off to see what to stitch from Max’s cross-stitch creations.