Cross stitch is my new panacea

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It’s been a bit of a long week, with all the election robocalls, the slow progress of the demo with the Dallas Leaning Tower, and the storage of dry goods for the pandemic. So when I was invited yesterday morning to cross stitch in Kasart’s soothing, art-filled enclosure in Preston Royal Mall, I said yes.

I was greeted by owner Mariana Tagle and a platter of yogurt parfaits, chocolate pound cake and brownie bites. I made myself a mimosa, and I could already feel my perimenopausal hormones stop their hellish fray and settle into tiny metaphorical spa loungers with cucumber eye patches.

Since I was early, I chose a seat at the table closest to the mimosa bucket. Mexican designer and dressmaker Mariana Barran Goodall, owner of Houston-based Hibiscus Linens, was in town for a trunk show in Kasart. She used to run a few cross stitch classes in the store to teach some of the age-old techniques she uses to embroider her lines of bedding, towels, hand towels and smocked children’s clothing.

Other participants began to arrive, mostly young mothers fleeing streptococcus-infested homes. Two were friends, but the others, like me, came alone. Dressed in an elegant lace blouse and hand-beaded jewelry, Goodall was all about Latin love and light-hearted, setting everyone up in stations filled with wooden hoops, wire cutters, and washable fabric pens. We each chose four linen napkins, edged in our color of choice, and embroidery floss on the rainbow-colored mound in the center of the table.

The tools of the trade.

Goodall gave us our choice of patterns to trace on the napkins, then she demonstrated the basics of seed and satin stitches. We all hunched over our hoops and she went around, giving us tips and sorting out the knots. Despite my ineptitude and regrettable lack of reading glasses, the next two hours became a calming rhythm of needle and thread: through, over, behind, split. There was a surprising lack of chatter from the ladies, who were all focused on the task at hand. A murmur of sympathy erupted when a mother received a call from her husband saying her twins had strep for the third or fourth time. The mother herself had just recovered from strep, again, having removed her tonsils, a pain she said she would trade for a drug-free Caesarean. Advice has been relayed on sorting out patient zero – maybe his son? – and it started to look a bit like Foreigner episode where the women sit around the table, swinging the wool, singing and chatting.

After trying to get my initial embroidered with a padded satin stitch, I finally gave up and got a pound cake instead. I browsed the store and picked out a set of Goodall embroidered cocktail napkins for a friend’s birthday (they will coordinate beautifully with her blue counters). Goodall offered to draw designs for anyone who wanted – she will gladly incorporate clients’ porcelain and silverware designs into custom designs.

She says she’ll be back to teach another class in May (you can check the class schedule here). In the meantime, you can buy his linen at Kasart.


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