project: stitched sign



Sometimes, projects end in tears, and I'm coming to think that the lesson is sometimes, that's okay.

To explain:
It all started with the inspiration to combine cross-stitch and crochet. While I'm a knitter by trade (lie alert: I'm a writer by trade, a knitter by... I don't know... by the fact that I dedicate 90% of my free time to it?) I do love to dabble in crochet, and am inspired by all sorts of fibre arts.

I've been seeing lots of great examples of cross-stitched crochet in homewares, clothing, art, and something in my head clicked. I knew EXACTLY how I wanted to try the technique, but that meant, starting from scratch.

When it comes to designing patterns, I'm still very amateur. I've made a few successful designs that work for me, but have never officially published or recorded them yet; I get too caught up in creating! So to come up with my own cross-stitched crochet design was going to be an interesting challenge. Particularly since I had never dome the technique before. But I just KNEW the results would be perfect.

You see, I live in a flat, and each floor is supposed to have a "No Smoking" sign outside the door. Someone had stolen the sign from our floor, and I was faced with this ugly planted block, with glue squiggles, every time I'd step out of the lift. So inspiration struck: why not make my own sign?

I excitedly started from scratch; taking my measuring tape out to the hallway, and writing down the size of the sign, making up a gauge swatch in single crochet, and then translating those measurements into a graph paper chart. Then came the fun part: Sketching out the sign design to cross stitch.

I love all of the subversive and cheeky stitch signs I see on Etsy and Pinterest and took inspiration from there. No normal "No Smoking" sign would I create. I would infuse it with a bit of humour, bringing a smile to my face every time I got home.



Thus, the plan for 'No Way Jose' was born. It was a great project to work on. It had the perfect blend of fun and challenging elements, and I could really watch it progress as I worked on it.


With a feeling of definite pride and a little badassery, I hung up the sign in the corridor at 11:30 pm when no one was around. It looked amazing. I managed to get a few sneaky shots, and off I went to bed, hoping my neighbours wouldn't object too badly.



I needn't have worried. It was a hit. One of our neighbours took a picture and sent it in to his work. His only colleague who smoked was named Jose. Another just thanked me for putting up a sign. One couple laughed and said, 'we thought it must have been you who made it'.

Here's where tragedy struck.

It had only been up for about three days, when I came home from work, and noticed it gone. We have unfortunately been suffering from a problem with homeless people infiltrating our building. Homelessness is a serious issue, and I do feel very empathetic to those put in that position. However, the particular individuals in our building took a shine to pooping in the mail room, peeing in the hallways, and graffiti-ing the stairwell. The lack of respect for my home was sad, and even sadder, the fact that they took my sign (and many other no smoking signs from throughout the building).

No Way Jose was no more.

It's pretty depressing when someone takes something you spent real time, planning, and effort on. For quite a while (can you tell from the posting schedule?) I felt pretty despondent. This was something I took from inspiration, to finished designed project, and it was taken away from me.

I don't want to call it the moral of the story, but I've comforted myself somewhat. I've worked with the local homeless charity to bring these issues to light. They knew the particular individuals, and there hasn't been a mailroom poop to date (yippee!). I took one of my few crappy photos of the sign, printed it out, and stuck it to the wall, so at least a version of the sign lives on. It's not perfect, but as any maker knows, hardly anything is.

And the effort wasn't wasted, really. It brought me joy. It made my neighbours laugh. I still have the pattern chart. Maybe I'll make it again. Maybe someone else will for their home.

Sure, it ended in tears, but I think I've got something good out of the experience in the end.
What do you think?

Happy stitching,
Molly x

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