I often bring my cross stitch projects with me to work on while at my kids’ events. Usually people will stop and talk to me about it, whether it’s their own experience with the medium, or just to ask what I’m making. This time the comment was from one of the dads at my kid’s Pinewood Derby who said, “That’s an interesting combination.” This was right after he said that cross stitch was a dying practice and whistfully mentioned that his grandmother used to stitch. But he wasn’t talking about me doing a gaming pattern. Which I was. He was referring to me combining an old art, with new technology. I had my iPad in my lap, and was working off the pattern stored on it.
When I say I want my kids to learn to use technology as a tool, this is the kind of thing I’m referring to. I want them to be able to incorporate technology into their lives to make make it easier, without letting tech run roughshod over the real world. If I didn’t have the cross stitch pattern I was using in digital form, I would have to carry sheets of pattern with me when I wanted to stitch outside of my house. Usually the patterns will fold out into large dimensions, like a road map, and are black and white. They are very cumbersome and hard to read. Technology allows me to have a digital pattern that is in color, that I can enlarge to make sure I’m getting my stitches right, and that I can take with me where ever I go.
When the guy at the Derby pointed out the combination I was using, I paused. I hadn’t seen the juxtaposition of new and old that working on my project created. I had just seamlessly taken the new form of patterns and gratefully run with it. I embraced the freedom digital patterns contained without noticing how striking it was sitting next to an ancient art. I’m glad he said it. I was then able to take the time to show the kids what he was talking about, and hopefully give them a better perspective on how technology can make crafting and art more accessible and easier to manage while preserving the nature of the medium. I hope that as more people become familiar with digital patterns and see how useful and easy they are, cross stitch will no longer be referred to as a dying art.