When asked why she first started cross stitching, Debi Hartwig explained she first tried the craft and hasn’t wanted to stop since.
Hartwig grew up with needlework all around her and first picked up the hobby while in grade school. Thirty years later she is still working on a project daily and loves the craft just as much.
“It was all around me, my father and mother stitched and my grandparents stitched. My father taught me and once I tried it I really enjoyed it,” stated Hartwig. “I have never wanted to stop.”
Since she first began, Hartwig has created hundreds of projects and has become a master of the craft. In high school, Hartwig had already perfected her cross stitch talent and was looking for a way to combine her passion and make an income. She reached out to a cross stitch company asking if there was a job where she could earn money and cross stitch. They explained companies will contract a stitcher to complete a new project to determine amount of thread used, supplies used and the finished piece will then be photographed for the pattern.
“Once I knew I could work for companies, I reached out to other companies seeing if I could work for them,” stated Hartwig. “It never hurts to ask if you are looking for a job.”
An average piece takes Hartwig 100 hours to complete; however, if she is working on an afghan it will take months to stitch by stitch the design. She explained she cannot sit still and watch TV but is always working on another project while the TV is on.
Hartwig’s favorite piece is on display in her store, Lottie Keep’s, an image of an Indian model. The cross-stitch canvas took her 213 hours to complete and is an item that she will not give away.
A sampling of the items Hartwig has completed are on display in the store and she is willing to sell most or will replicate for a customer.
Hartwig continues to contract her cross-stitch work and completes the preliminary projects for companies.
“I enjoy seeing the design before the release,” stated Hartwig. “I get to complete a project without [financially] investing in the project. I only invest my time and I enjoy the time.”
When it comes to completing a cross stitch project, Hartwig enjoys the creative process behind each piece. While she is not creative in creating the pattern or color scheme, she starts with a canvas and brings a colorful result to the original design.
“Cross stitch is all from a pattern but you feel like you are creating. There is something calming in producing something from nothing,” explained Hartwig. “I believe everyone should have a hobby as a creative outlet to put out stress.”
Hartwig is in the process of designing her own cross stitch patterns. For the last six months, off and on she has been designing three patterns. One is for adoption and another dear to her heart is a castle. When Hartwig first opened Lottie’s Keep, a friend drew her a sketch of a castle. That sketch serves as her store logo.
“The castle represents my store and the feel of my world,” stated Hartwig.
She explained the process to design her own pattern has been hard from the initial sketch. Hartwig has to choose colors and then shading and explained a cross stich is similar to a TV picture as it is all pixels.
“The more pixels and colors you have the clearer the picture is,” she explained. “It is hard to know when to stop and say it is done. An artist never thinks their piece is done and is always wanting to make changes.”
Hartwig hopes to sell her patterns to cross stitch companies and is hopeful the connections she first formed in high school will create a bridge for her patterns. No matter what happens with the sale of her patterns, once she is happy enough to call the end result done, Hartwig will sell her patterns in Lottie’s Keep.
Cross stich can be done on more than pieces of framed fabric, explained Hartwig. Today, companies sell pre-punched metal, wood and cork as well as household items to infuse a colorful design into.
Lottie’s Keep is located in the Caron Ridge shopping center.