Interview: Cross Stitching, a Childhood Memory

When I first launched this website, my goal was to help others learn about cross stitching and how to do it. To a lot of people, cross stitching is only childhood memories of nanna or older women in the community sitting and sewing.

Now it’s becoming popular again, it’s the perfect time to share not only tutorials and information but also some fun facts and stories.

I got an interesting email from someone brought up in a family where cross stitching was passed on from mother to daughter. I decided to contact her to find out more.

Mina, a 29 year old woman from Serbia, agreed to do an interview and share her story.

For you, cross-stitching is more than a hobby. Can you tell us more about your first memories and relationship with cross stitching? Who taught you how to cross stitch?

First of all, thank you for inviting me for the interview. I was very pleased to bump into your website since I didn’t imagine people outside the Balkans were familiar with all the ‘rural’ things we practice. I am glad it’s not the case! In my family, and in my country, young girls learn cross stitching, knitting, sewing and all the other arts and crafts that a young proper girl should know. So, my grandmother was raised in a very traditional family, where all the girls – she had two sisters – learned arts and crafts. It was more like work than a hobby at times. When my mother was a girl, my grandmother taught her how to cross stitch. When I was a girl, she taught me. And so the tradition lived on.

I know my family is rather the rule than the exception. A lot of families in North Serbia (Vojvodina) still keep this tradition alive. You can see their work at fairs and art & crafts events. There are always nice cross stitched tablecloths, shirts, skirts, aprons, handkerchiefs rugs, wall ornaments, etc…

So it’s definitely more than just a pastime. I’m assuming women sell their work? Is it something people make money from? How is it valued in Serbia?

Yes I would say so. In the old days, girls had to be familiar with all the house chores since they didn’t work or provide for the family. That was the men’s job back in the days. Because of that, girls learned how to cross stitch in order to keep themselves busy, so they could be ‘valued’ for their knowledge and get a better marital opportunity! I am sure many will disagree with me, I’m not really an expert in traditions and old customs in Serbia. But I believe cross stitching had a really important role in the identity of girls and young women in my country until very recently. Nowadays, it’s more of a hobby for most of the population, but there are still places, especially in rural areas, where cross stitching still is a part of the tradition.

As for the money part, I noticed that women like to buy arts and crafts works. I don’t know whether it’s profitable or not but I know it’s popular. And it looks nice too, some might say it’s a touch of vintage and nostalgia. I always like to see cross stitched ornaments, clothes, tablecloths and so on. It brings really nice memories and feelings.

You are very sentimental when you talk about that or am I wrong?

Maybe a little nostalgic. It does indeed remind me of my childhood. I know I would like to get more in touch with those ‘older’ arts and crafts hobbies. I definitely need to go back and improve my cross stitching!

Would you pass on the tradition of cross stitching to your daughter like your mother and grandmother did?

I enjoyed talking to you to and I hope that your visitors and friends would enjoy it as well, not only to be familiar with cross stitching but to actually give it a try! It’s a very interesting and relaxing hobby and I believe anyone can afford to pick it up. It’s great when you do something with your own hands.

As for your last question, I think I will. Cross stitching is one of my first childhood memories and I always feel sentimental when I think of it. For that reason mainly, I would definitely teach my daughter how to cross stitch.

Mina Božanić is a 29 year old musicologist from Serbia, but decided to go with her passion – writing. She freelances in marketing, copywriting and translation. Recently, she started her own copywriting agency “Ludwig”. You can reach her at mina@agencija-ludwig.com

There you have it guys. Hope you enjoyed reading this small interview. Now get your cross stitching kits out of the closet and start practicing!

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