Getting back into Cross-stitch

Are you coming back to cross-stitch after some time away? Did you get burned out during the pandemic? You’re not alone!

Getting back into something—be it crafts, cooking, or even your favorite TV show—can be daunting. Maybe you feel shame about leaving it in the first place, or you tell yourself that you’ve changed and wouldn’t like it anymore. Or you feel like you wouldn’t even know where to start.

We tell ourselves lots of stories—but that doesn’t mean we have to believe those stories 😉

To help ease your re-entry into cross-stitch, here are 3 tips to get you going (again)!

1. Start small

If the barrier to jumping back in feels insurmountable, try simplifying your expectations. You don’t need to tackle a huge, full-coverage piece, or a 15-person family portrait with realistic hair for your return project.

Whenever I’m trying to get back into my preferred gym habits, I start with just going to the gym. And I don’t mean going to the gym and doing a full workout—I mean just physically going to the gym. Sometimes I’ll just drive to the gym parking lot, then immediately turn around and go back home.

Sounds crazy, I know. But the hardest part about gym habits isn’t lifting heavy weights or getting on the stair master—it’s getting to the gym in the first place. Getting that small win makes me feel great about myself, and makes me want to do it again.

How does this translate to cross-stitch? Lower your barrier to re-entry by just pulling out your supplies. Thread a needle with any color floss if you’re feeling ambitious, but don’t stitch anything. Just re-familiarize yourself with what you have, and get used to opening up that floss container and threading the needle again. Once you’ve done that, you’ll get the accompanying dopamine hit and will be more motivated to do it again next time!

2. Get Organized

This tip comes from one of my favorite concepts that I learned from Essentialism by Greg McKeownmake execution effortless. If you can find ways to make it easier to do whatever you’re trying to do, you’ll be more likely to actually do it.

To make execution effortless for gym habits, I like to keep my gym bag close to the front door. Then when I’m inclined to go to the gym, I don’t lose momentum by searching for my bag—I just grab it on the way out the door.

How can you make execution effortless for cross-stitch? Try organizing your supplies. That way, when you’re inclined to stitch, you’re not digging through your stash trying to find things—your needles and fabric will be where you expect them to be, and your floss container will be organized in whatever way makes sense to your brain.

And when I say “organize”, I don’t mean “organize and make a list of all the things I want to add to my stash” 😉 Doing that just adds another reason for you not to cross-stitch, with thoughts like: “I don’t have everything I need, so I can’t start at all.”

3. Trust Yourself

You may feel a bit rusty jumping back in to something that once felt like second nature, or you may be discouraged that you’ve lost some skill. This is normal. Trust yourself and the muscle memory you’ve developed, and just stick with it.

When I’m getting back into gym habits after a break, I can’t lift as much weight as I once did. I start with lower difficulties on the stair master, and get winded sooner than I’d like. But as soon as my body starts going through the motions again, it remembers what it feels like to lift heavier weights and work harder and longer on the stair master. With enough time (and trust), my body and muscles will rise to meet the challenge.

When getting back into cross-stitch, maybe you find it’s taking you twice as long to thread your needle, or maybe it’s difficult to keep track of where you are as you go from pattern to project and back to pattern. Don’t worry! Again, this is normal. Just trust that your body and brain will recall, remember, and continue to refine those skills—they just need to be dusted off a bit first. It really is like riding a bike!

If it’s overwhelming to think about getting back into cross-stitch, give these tips a try and let me know how it goes! And if there’s something else you discover that lowers that barrier to re-entry, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below for future readers to see!

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