Stitching: Solitary or Solitude?

After reading years of books, magazines, and web content about stitchers and their stitching, I have noticed one prominent theme. We typically stitch alone.

id_rather_be_crossstitchingAre we all loners? Not at all! I don’t think so. There are many who like to stitch with friends, as a group, maybe even belong to a guild. But most of my reading indicates that we all like a QSnap/Lapstand/Floorstand, a comfy chair, and DVDs playing in the background while we pluck away at our projects.

I was re-reading all the Blog Hops of late, and I found them very revealing. It seemed as though almost everyone who contributed was a solo stitcher. Personally, my reason is somewhat of an escape – the one part of the days or weeks of chaos that I can take just for myself. What is your reason?

I know it is unusual for women to find a mate or partner who is a stitcher, or someone who is interested in stitching. I know that there seems to be a wave of knitters and crocheters of late, The craft stores seem to carry less and less needlework accessories and supplies and more and more of scented candles and scrap booking items. [Not that scrap booking is a bad past time, I have been known to scrap a few pages in my time], but the emphasis on needle work is just not available.

All of the 4 specialized needlework shops in my city have shut down in the last 3 years. Maybe these brick and mortar stores don’t survive due to the range of things available. Maybe it is the product available in kits. Maybe they are too complicated or ugly (according to the younger masses) to lower the barrier of entry into stitching. Who knows? So finding product becomes a solo internet sourcing escapade.

I am personally a very extroverted individual. I am the person in the elevator who strikes up a conversation with anyone. I organize parties regularly. I love taking my little girl to the zoo and talking to the other moms there. At work I am on the social committee and I love family gatherings because you get to see tons of people. I would love to be part of an in-person guild but my work and home life just don’t permit that kind of scheduling commitment.

When it comes to my stitching though, I want it to be relatively sedate with background noise I don’t really have to focus on but can hear. Sometimes even completely quiet. I want to be alone to think the design through – create the pattern or put some devotion into my work. Its my art and I want the result of all my devotion to come through with the end result. Does that mean I am sentencing myself to a solitary hobby? Perhaps.

Because we do this alone, does that mean there are less and less of us participating in stitching? Probably.

Do we get our social fix on the internet? Absolutely. Are we in the type of people who need absolute control of one detailed thing in our lives that no one else can scatter or take apart? Most likely.

We are all detailed individuals with a lot of proverbial “balls in the air”? No doubt about it.

We want to be part of a community at times, but is this something we would truly do as a group all of the time? I have heard in Britain and other parts of the world there is a type of group stitching called a “Round Robin” in which one stitcher does the bottom left corner and then mails the project to another stitcher and they complete the top right corner and so on and so on.

Would any of you participate or have you participated in a Round Robin? Do you value your projects so completely that you couldn’t bear to see it go on to someone else? We look at our work as a very personal thing that we may keep or give to another person but it always someone you know that will appreciate your effort. We are in essence giving something of ourselves. Is that why it is so individual and personal?

The question I pose to all of my fellow stitchers out there: What is the reason we generally stitch alone?

About Rachel

I have been studying and working with various forms of needlework for the past ten or more years. I look to the stitching community for insights and expansion on my lifelong studies. My favorites are blackwork designs or projects with minimal needle changes that focus on the pattern, not necessarily the color. My completed portfolio is available publicly on Flickr. You can also find me on Twitter, Pinterest, Etsy, and of course on Facebook


  1. I guess I have a couple of reasons why I stitch alone. One, no one else here in my family is interested in the hobby. Two, I am a guy and there is an automatic exclusion just from that. I know NO other men in my world who do this hobby. I know a couple online, but that doesn’t count for doing it with someone else. Three, I guess it is mainly a way for me to de-stress and relax. So, doing it alone works. 🙂

  2. I’m an introvert by nature but circumstances have prevented me from staying set in my introverted ways. When I got married, I immediately inherited 3 stepchildren. By my second wedding anniversary, I had added 2 children to the family (my girls are 14 months apart). My house is noisy and chaotic. I USED to stitch alone in my bedroom/dorm room/apartment. I now stitch in the living room with the family while the toddlers try to grab the floss/scissors/pattern/fabric/q snap/needle. Fortunately, I’m a “minimalist stitcher” so I don’t have a ton of accessories. In fact, I really don’t use my Ks creation stand much anymore. My husband doesn’t stitch but enjoys reading next to me while I stitch (he calls it “playing with string”). I figure when the girls are a bit older, I might be able to stitch more as they’ll be more independent.

  3. Angela Cruz-Garcia says:

    I tend to stitch alone because when I was working it was a way of relaxing and de-stressing. I also did not know anyone near me who was interested in the art. I would like to get together with a group every now and then to stitch and socialize, but I fear that I would not get much done in the setting. I have not participated in a Round Robin but I think I might like to try. I enjoy sharing my stitching. I do put a piece of myself in each stitch and when it goes out to others I feel as if I am able to stay connected with them.

  4. I stitch alone because it’s primary reason is to control the chaos in my life and give me some peace and calming. I have never understood cross-stitching’s calming effect, but I thoroughly enjoy it and crave it. I’m very extroverted! I will stitch with my family around me, but I’m the only one doing it – I cannot seem to get my girls interested in the hobby thus far. I will answer anyone’s questions about what it is I’m doing especially if I’m stitching in public (waiting rooms usually find me with a small project). I love finding other stitchers throughout the world via social networking, but the fact remains that there is no one really local to me, and the few that are have just as hectic lives as I do making it tough to get together.

  5. I don’t mind if people are around while I stitch, but I do enjoy stitching alone too. Usually I’ll stitch either at night after the kids have gone to bed, or in the morning after everyone has left for the day. I work from home so I can usually squeeze in some stitch time before I get started or in the middle of the day when I need a break from working.

    I used to just stitch in the middle of everything, but that was when we had more space. Now we’re in a pretty small house and there just isn’t space for my project to be out all the time.

  6. I usually stitch in the evening while watching a movie. My husband sits next to me rolling cigarettes and he sometimes reads. I think it is a solitude thing not solitary. I take mine with me wherever I can. I have even worked on it in the car while on a road trip. My daughter asked me to teach her how to embroider at the age of 21. She will draw her own designs on the fabric and then stitch it.
    I either do something that I like or I do something that I will give away as gifts. People tell me I should sell them but I say I would never get the amount of money for it that it is worth.

  7. We have a biweekly game night at my house. Sometimes we have an odd number for a game and I will bow out so I can stitch. They will be sitting around the table and I’ll be just a few feet away on the couch and I stay involved with the conversation. Other nights, if Hubby isn’t in the office playing video games, then he’ll be in the living room with me and we’ll watch tv while I stitch.
    I had a day off last week. The quiet house was nice, and I did get the ornament I was working on finished, but I found myself getting easily distracted. I guess I need something going on to keep that one part of my brain busy while I stitch.

  8. I stitch alone as I don’t know a single soul who does cross stitch or any other craft. When I stitch I forget the world, and I don’t think I could stitch with others because I’d get to talking and make mistakes!

  9. I don’t go out of my way to stitch alone…you can often find me watching a football, movie, or a Law & Order marathon with my family. But I do enjoy the solitude. As a working mom, it is tough to get alone time for anything – including stitching. It also is no fun if you are constantly interrupted so as long as i can stay in my spot for at least an hour at a time, I am good. So the time I get alone is well spent…stitching as much as I can as fast as I can!

  10. I stitch alone because there are no other stitchers nearby. There are other people within an hour or so from my house but trying to get everyone’s schedule coordinated was crazy. I usually stitch in the living room with the family all around me while we watch TV or a movie – so while I am technically stitching alone, I am not alone which is how I like it!

  11. My significant other supports my hobby and has no problem with me doing it while we spend time together watching movies. I’d much rather stitch with real life friends, but there are no groups in my area so I’m relegated to spending time along stitching.

  12. I am an owl, who stitches late in the night due to my work schedule. This is the way for me to un-wind after the day’s work. Also, the few friends who do stitch stay quite far from where I stay and it’s quite difficult to gather for a stitching party, though we’d love to do that. So, I am at peace watching the soaps that are played at that time while I stitch away

  13. Lori Winslow says:

    I fall into the category of being the only stitcher that I know in my area, but I usually stitch in the same room while the rest of the family watches TV. My sister-in-law tried cross stitching, but found it a bit difficult, so she knits, but she does that solo also, so maybe its not just us cross stitchers that stitch alone.

  14. I usa to stitch alone, but lately seem to be joining other stitchers for a couple of hours once or twice a month.

    I do say however, I think I got more done when I stitched alone. I feel I can’t seem to focus as well with a group. Oh well, nice to have the company and to be able oo and ah over everyone’s fine works of art.

    Bye for now

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