When you thinking of hobbies that college students have, cross-stitching probably isn’t one of the first ones that comes to mind. Yet, in my opinion cross-stitching is one of the greatest hobbies that all students should explore. Not only is it a great means of relaxing but can also lead to you making awesome things and maybe learning a thing or two (after all there are educational cross-stitches)!

Image from

In a neuroscience? If so, cross-stitch a neuron! Image from myself (Samantha Linder)

Cross-stitching is a relatively easy skill to gain, that being said you will probably want to start with a simple pattern. Once you become comfortable changing colors and doing simple designs you will be ready to explore the entire world of cross-stitching! Here are two examples of cross-stitched. The one on the top is fairly simple and a good choice for beginners, the one below it is much more complicated.

Picking a Pattern

Once you have decided to pursue cross-stitching the first step is to pick a design/pattern. You can find lots of free patterns on sites like Cross-Stitching and DMC, you can also buy books of patterns and individual patterns online on websites like Etsy. After you have picked your pattern you will need to get supplies, which brings me to my next section.

Buying Supplies

Some patterns will indicated specific colors by numbers used by brands to indicate what colors use should use. You can choose to follow the suggested colors or pick your own. Regardless of if a pattern indicates colors or not, feel free to pick different shades or different colors altogether. Cross-stitching supplies can be a little bit costly at first but once you have some basic supplies, future projects will be much less expensive (I spend less than $1 per a piece at this point). Here is a list of the basic supplies you will want to buy. I just want to take a moment to point out that there are a lot of options for what I list, you should pick colors and sizes that you want to work with. You can buy everything on this list online and at most craft stores.

  • An embroidery hoop (you will use the hoop to keep your fabric firm so that it is easy to make the actual stitches)
  • Cross-stitching fabric (it is a special fabric with gridded holes so that all of your stitches are the same size)
  • Embroidery thread (whatever colors you need for your pattern)
  • Needle/s (pick whatever size you are comfortable with)

Getting Started

Finally it is time to actually start cross-stitching. The truth is that online tutorials will explain the process better than I ever could. So here are links to some of my favorite tutorials.

It is always a good time to embroider a unicorn. Image from myself (Samantha Linder).

It is always a good time to embroider a unicorn. Image from myself (Samantha Linder).

Now that I have taken the time to introduce how to actually cross-stitch, I want to take a moment to advocate for pursuing the hobby. No matter your age, gender, interests, or really anything else for that matter, cross-stitching is a hobby that should be explored. Once you get comfortable following a pattern you don’t have to focus too much while embroidering. This means you can do other things ranging from watching TV to listening to a podcast while working. Further more, cross-stitching can be extremely relaxing. It is a way to take a break from the stress of studying for exams, writing paper after paper, and just constantly being busy.

So next time you feel the need to try something new, consider cross-stitching. Maybe you are a whovian who wants to show-off their love for Doctor Who or maybe you are really interested in germs. No matter what, don’t be afraid to try cross-stitching!

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the author

Samantha Linder is a sophomore at Smith College where she is double majoring in neuroscience and art history. Samantha's favorite words include hippocampus, logorrhea, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

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