Outside of the immersive realm of cosplay, “arts and crafts” may not readily come to mind when you think “video games”, least of all embroidery. Yet if you run a Google images search for “cross stitch”, there’s no escape; iconic sprites from titles such as Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. are mixed right in there with the flower motifs and folk art borders. As an important part of pop culture, gaming has seeped into everything, including cross stitch.
Cross stitch is the oldest form of embroidery: it’s been a part of history in almost every country. The execution is simple; thread (embroidery floss) is used to make X-shaped stitches on a grid formed by evenly woven fabric. The patterns, on the other hand, can range from itty-bitty beginner projects to 115,200 stitch masterpieces.
Postmodern patterns have been rising in popularity for years now, especially amongst younger demographics. The notion that embroidery is just for old ladies is outdated anyway – craft is for everyone! Plus, when was the last time you saw your gran on reddit?
You got a grid, you got a cross stitch
There’s no mystery why geek culture lends itself so readily to embroidery; cross stitch is basically the original pixel art. The blocky graphics on retro video game consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Gameboy and Sega Genesis are easily adapted into grid patterns, and indie games like Shovel Knight have brought pixelated graphics back to modern platforms. Minecraft boasts a world of nothing but blocks on a grid. If it’s ever beeped or booped, odds are someone has recreated it in thread.
Getting on board
If you’re looking for the perfect hobby to pick up for the winter months (one which I can personally recommend to pair with Netflix) then cross stitch is for you. To get started, you can pick up a pattern or a complete kit on Etsy, or check out these websites for some inspiration and maybe even score a free pattern or two:
Trust me when I say you should have a pattern in mind before you head to your local Lincraft/Spotlight, otherwise you will want to buy every colour of thread there is (in multiple shades). Have a plan before you purchase.
Apart from your embroidery floss, you’ll also need these essentials:
Then all you have to do is start stitching! If you have some friends who are interested you could start your own sewing circle, or just hop into the online community with some “cross stitch” and “needlework” hashtags attached to your posts. Sharing photos of your finished work is part of the fun.
Do you have an interesting hobby that incorporates art & craft with tech? Let us know in the comments below.
The amazing pacman cross stitch you see pictured in this article was made by Gina Thompson. If you want to make one yourself, you can grab the pattern by clicking this link.