Cross stitching — like other old-timey hobbies such as knitting, pickling and crochet — is having a bit of a renaissance moment of late. In recent years, its aesthetic has evolved significantly from excessively sentimental hearts and flowers to robots, skulls and unexpected messages. Pinterest is overflowing with cross stitch, and it's being featured in fashion and art galleries.
Now, you can learn the lost art right in the east end. Caitlin Sailor, who is part of the tap room team at Left Field Brewery, teaches the craft to newcomers and embroidery vets alike, all while enjoying tasty beer at the bar. Caitlin's series of cross-stitching workshops at Left Field Brewery include two hours of instruction, a personal kit that includes a cute, original design of your choice, and a beer!
We chatted with Caitlin about her love of this old school pursuit and being a part of the east end community.
OLD-FASHIONED PASTIMES ARE EXPERIENCING A REVIVAL — WHY DO YOU THINK THERE'S RENEWED INTEREST IN THE LOST ART OF CROSS STITCH?
I feel like people my age are really into things that are handmade. The reason cross stitching has made such a comeback is because it looks like it would hang in your grandparents house, but these days they have fun and sassy sayings.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED?
My mom tried to teach me to cross stitch as a kid, but I didn’t really have the patience to sit down and actually finish a project. When I got older, I wanted to find a craft that would be easy and relaxing for me to do. I found a pattern online that I wanted to make, so I immediately went to the store, bought all the materials, sat down, and retaught myself to do it. Not long after, I decide I wanted to start making my own patterns, so I sat down and taught myself to do that!
WHAT INSPIRATIONS DO YOU DRAW FROM FOR YOUR CREATIONS?
I get inspiration from the things in my life that I really enjoy. I only make projects that I would want to hang in my own home. So my patterns often feature cats, coffee, beer, quotes from my favorite TV shows, lyrics, and pizza. If something in my life makes me laugh really hard, I want to forever immortalize it in a cross stitch.
DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF CREATING A FINISHED PIECE
Well, it all starts with an idea of something I want to stitch. First, I will need to make a pattern. I have a program that's basically just a graph, and you choose your colours and click, click, click until the design comes together. This is actually one of my favourite parts of the process. It can be time consuming, but it's where you start to see your idea come to life.
Then comes the actually stitching. You pick the colours of floss, cloth, and then follow a grid pattern that tells you where to stitch. This can take hours depending on the size, but I find it very relaxing.
HOW CREATIVE DO YOU NEED TO BE TO GET THE HANG OF IT?
I don’t think you need to be very creative to cross stitch. It’s really just following a pattern, and creating little Xs with thread. There are plenty of patterns out there for everyone’s taste. I believe that cross stitch is for everyone, its really hard to be bad at it!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CLASSES AT LEFT FIELD BREWERY — WHAT CAN NEWCOMERS EXPECT?
My classes are geared towards beginners, but I also get some seasoned stitchers. I teach everything someone would need to start and finish a project. Everyone gets a kit with all the materials needed, and a pattern of their choice. Over two hours they get to drink, socialize and learn cross stitch. Its not enough time to finish the project there, but people can take it home to finish. I make sure everyone knows they can contact me with any questions that might come up!
APART FROM CROSS STITCHING, WHAT DO YOU DO FOR LEFT FIELD?
I work in the taproom. I serve beer, and try to provide a great experience for our guests. Its fun to work in the neighbourhood and meet other eastenders.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT TORONTO'S EAST END?
My favourite thing about the east end is that it has a great neighbou'rhood feel, yet its still in the city and close to so many great things. I come from a smaller city in Michigan, and the east end just feels so much like home to me.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE THINGS TO DO IN THE 'HOOD?
A perfect day in the east would start off at my favourite coffee shop, Rooster, on Broadview. Then, maybe stopping at Von Doughnuts, or if it's the weekend, I’d go have brunch at The Wren. I also love taking lengthy walks around the east end, from Greenwood to Broadview and back. I would end my adventure with some beers, probably at Left Field!
For more information on upcoming events and to register for Cross Stitching with Caitlin!, click here.