It is summer, and that means that it's time for the Mystery Steotch-Along!
Steotch is a cross-stitch pattern company that combines old-fashioned pattern styles with pop culture references. I love the way that they take classic motifs and turn them on their heads, showing that cross-stitch doesn't have to be dainty and proper. Those with finer sensibilities might find their patterns to be . . . ribald. (One of these days, I will find the courage to enter "Return to Shady Thicket" in a State Fair.)
At this point, irreverent cross-stitch companies are a dime a dozen on Etsy. What sets Steotch apart from its imitators is the complexity of the patterns. Until now, the cross-stitch patterns I have done have all been beginner-friendly. They used only regular cross-stitches and some backstitch for definition. Steotch uses what are known as "fractional stitches," which are one-quarter or three-quarters the size of a standard cross-stitch. This requires inserting the needle in the middle of a square of aida fabric. It takes some getting used too--you want to gently wiggle the needle between the fabric warps and wefts without piercing them. These stitches result in images with finer details than ones that use only standard cross-stitches.
This is also my first time using an effect called "tweeding." Instead of stitching with two strands of one color of floss, you use one strand each of two different colors. The result is stitches with subtle color variations.
This is third time Steotch has had a mystery stitch-along. Two years ago, they began with a picture of Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction with the (fictionalized) Bible quote from the movie. It had the same level of complexity as their standard patterns, so people complained that it wasn't beginner-friendly. Last year, the pattern was one of Snoopy that you could customize with a number of Snoop Dog quotes. It was much easier for beginners . . . but people still complained about enduring weeks upon weeks of white stitches against a white background. This year, the pattern will be more like the one from the first year, but it will be spread out over a longer period of time.
Here is how my project looks after Week #1.
I'm hoping it has something to do with Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation, whose pithy statements have become a favorite in the craft world. ("Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing." Words to live by . . .)
For modern cross-stitchers who are looking for a challenge, Steotch provides the answer. I love the idea of creating a project that not only matches my sense of humor, but also helps me grow as a stitcher.