The allure of a perfect kit

Before I learned to knit, my first love was cross-stitch. I started with bookmarks and Christmas ornament kits, and I moved on to buying little counted cross-stitch booklets and larger projects (mostly uncompleted, big surprise).

Lately, I’ve gotten back into needlework, and not surprisingly it was through the allure of some great kits. I’m not sure what it is about kits, maybe just the ease of having everything needed in the right quantities, all in one place, a whole project prepared and ready to go. But I do love a good kit. My current fixation is a cross-stitch kit I picked up in Iceland.

Man, I am obsessed. This kit is so perfect because it uses Icelandic wool yarn in place of embroidery floss, making it tremendously speedy, with a satisfying heft. The design is called Skaftafellsr├│s (if you’re not up on your Icelandic, that means “The Rose of Skaftafell”), and it has a brilliantly clever and elegant geometry to it.

I picked the kit up at a history museum gift shop, as it cost something like $12 and seemed cool. Now I wish I had bought dozens of these kits because I am fanatically in love with it. In this one project, I have a connection with my personal history, remembering the windy and cold winter days I spent stitching as a little girl, as well as a connection with centuries of Icelandic crafting and needlework in general. I can’t even begin to express how deeply, immensely satisfying it is, but I’m sure this material nostalgia contributes to my utter delight.

The stitching is meant to be a uniquely Icelandic form, long arm cross-stitch. It gives a lovely texture and directionality to the stitches, but I gave up on it after a few sections – it just wasn’t enjoyable for me. Instead, I am doing regular counted cross-stich. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll frame this project or sew it as the face of a pillow, though I am leaning toward the latter.

Meanwhile, my kit and I will be bonding, huddled up with a wool blanket and a gray kitty.

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