My next stitch

Finding solace in moments of control


Lucia Rivera

Cross stitching has become a new passion for senior Lucia Rivera. Designs are made with different colored threads on a cross stitch fabric patterned with small squares.

Up, pull through. Down, pull through. Up, pull through. Down, pull through. Snip. 

“Another one done,” I thought to myself. I looked down at the finished piece, where all the little diagonal crosses seemed to smile back at me. 

Beside my desk there are now three finished cross stitch patterns, with seven more distributed among family members. From animals to plants to self-made designs, I genuinely cannot get enough of the repetitive yet fulfilling act of stitching. 

As with many of the hobbies I appreciate in life, I was introduced to cross stitching through a mix of family members and the internet. I did not predict however, that with a quick Google search I would have vaulted myself into a true passion in which I spend hours each day.

Recently, I was explaining my late sleeping patterns over winter break to a friend, placing a part of the blame on my new pastime. 

“Wait. So you just sit there and cross stitch?” my friend asked a bit incredulously over Zoom. 

“Well, sometimes I play music,” I reasoned with her. A year ago, I would have been surprised too.

But my cross stitching doesn’t stop when I set it down for the night. After signing into my 9 a.m. class the following morning, the needle and thread keep my hands busy, while my mind focuses on new content. 

Just as my brain is left with ruminating thoughts at the end of a school day, my hands and wrists end up strained and in braces from the repetitive motions. Up, pull through. Down, pull through. My fingers don’t forget, but they still draw me back for more. 

It pleases my perfectionist mind that I am the only one to blame for each and every mistake and miscount.”

— Lucia Rivera

The discomfort clashes with my earnest desire to keep stitching. For with every careful stitch my fingers make, an ounce of tension and stress from life dissipates, leaving me only with the pattern in my hands.

In a time so devoid of individual control, I have found a way to channel my, at times, demanding personality. Without even leaving my seat, I carefully consider thread combinations and count the miniature squares forming swaths of cross stitch fabric. 

Like any great puzzle, the final piece of satisfaction comes with the completion of a piece. After a series of days, I get another burst of contentment from a final knotting of string. 

I choose every color from my array of gifted thread, along with choosing to stitch every square that I do. It pleases my perfectionist mind that I am the only one to blame for each and every mistake and miscount. Because when that is true, every success is also mine to enjoy. 

Unlike a board game or playing a musical instrument, cross stitching is a simple concept, as some might view doodling. While it is a creative outlet and a way to give gifts to others, it’s unique that I value every part of the process. 

I begin with choosing a design and then complete the stitching itself before finally framing the fabric on a piece of cardstock. While I don’t get to decide how or when the pandemic impacts my life, I can always pick up my needle, forever guiding my next stitch with an unmistakable point.